Friday, March 13, 2009

Liberals Who Read Only Liberal Media Don’t Know the Half of What’s Really Going On – Case in Point: The Obama Team’s Bungled Freeman Nomination

From time to time I’ll be speaking with a liberal friend – I have two in mind – who will seem incredulous when I mention a "hot” political story. Incredulous because they had never heard of it, and incredulous because I would give credence to a story they hadn’t seen mentioned in the New York Times or the Washington Post or on NPR or Public Television or CBS, NBC, ABC, or even in the local Chicago papers (both of which -- one worse than the other -- are oriented toward the liberal). One friend benevolently implored me to stop reading “those conservative” web sites.

Of course, the “joke” is on them. It’s their understanding of events that’s incomplete, because they rely on liberal news sources once thought to be “objective” but which now only carry stories that promote the liberal agenda and often completely ignore stories that undermine their liberal views or liberal leaders. Conservative sources, on the other hand, because their viewpoints infrequently penetrate the dominant liberal “mainstream media,” not only offer news and information one can get nowhere else but, and here’s the important point, they also take note of the liberal media and the stories they are covering and not covering. In taking note of what the dominant liberal “mainstream” media is covering, they thus give readers “both sides” of stories.

This asymmetry -- liberal sources filter and carry stories only to further liberal aims while conservative sources cover both sides -- calls to mind that old TV series Upstairs Downstairs and the more recent movie Gosford Park. In these stories the “upstairs” British aristocrats know only their world, and sometimes that not even well, while the “Downstairs” help, who live and function in not only the Upstairs world but also in the real Downstairs world, see the complete picture. The Downstairs crowd knows both worlds, while the Upstairs crowd knows only its own artifice.

The recent story of the ultimately unsuccessful nomination of former Saudi ambassador Charles Freedman to be the Obama Administration’s new Chairman of the National Intelligence Council is an excellent case in point. The aspect of the story of interest here is not how someone so Anti-Israel and so pro-Saudi could be nominated – that’s easy to figure. My point here is how the icons of the liberal “Mainstream Media” didn’t cover the mushrooming controversy over his nomination. Clearly the liberal media wished to shield Obama from yet more embarrassment and scorn. For some, like the New York Times, the first mention of this whole controversy was when the nomination was withdrawn. Liberals reading only the NYT or the Washington Post must be wondering -- what the hell just happened?

On March 10, Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair announced that Ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. has requested that his selection [by the Obama Administration] to be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council not proceed. Director Blair accepted Ambassador Freeman’s decision with regret.

Earlier, on March 5, Michael Goldfarb wrote (link) at the Weekly Standard Blog:
So far the Washington Post and the New York Times have failed to run a single news story on the controversy surrounding Freeman's appointment to a key intelligence post. The AP [Associated Press] is busy writing about Sasha and Malia's new swing set. Perhaps an official investigation, launched with bipartisan support in Congress and involving a steaming pile of political hypocrisy, will be enough to warrant a report.
Here’s Mark Steyn writing after the withdrawal of the nomination at National Review online in a post titled “Don't read all about it!” (link):
I'm glad to see the back of the Saudi shill Chas Freeman, but I wonder what Mr and Mrs America will make of it tomorrow morning, reading for the very first time how the "Outspoken Former Ambassador" (as the AP's headline has it) was scuttled by a controversy their newspaper saw fit not to utter a word about. As far as I can tell, the only papers in America to so much as mention the Freeman story were The Wall Street Journal, Investors' Business Daily, The Washington Times, The New York Post, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Augusta Chronicle, and The Press Enterprise of Riverside, California.
But if you rely for your news on The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Detroit News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Miami Herald, or The Minneapolis Star-Tribune - just to name a random selection of American dailies currently sliding off the cliff - the end of the story will be the first time you've heard of it.
The US newspaper has deluded itself that it's been killed by technology. But there are two elements to a newspaper: news and paper. The paper is certainly a problem, but so is the news - or lack of it. If you're interested in news, the somnolent US monodaily is the last place to look for it.
Finally, on March 11, only after the nomination’s withdrawal did the liberal New York Times and the Washington Post cover the story. How did they do? Did they finally reveal the details? Here’s Mark Steyn again, writing (link) at National Review online the day after the withdrawal:
Following my [earlier] remarks on American newspapers' suicidal antipathy to news, I see the Washington Post has now run its first news piece on the Chas Freeman story: “Charles W. Freeman Jr. withdrew yesterday from his appointment as chairman of the National Intelligence Council after questions about his impartiality were raised among members of Congress and with White House officials.” Actually, I don't think his best friends would claim there was ever any question about his "impartiality." And, from that textbook example of reportorial torpor, [the coverage is] notably shy on details on exactly what "questions" were raised….
Meanwhile, what excuse has the New York Times given for not covering this story, so embarrassing to Obama? Michael Calderone writes (link) at the liberal-slanting website Politico:
For nearly three weeks, the nomination of Chas Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council has been a hot-button issue among bloggers…. But one outlet that didn’t weigh in until last night was the New York Times. Dean Baquet, the [NY] Times Washington bureau chief, told Politico that there had been “a relentless effort to get coverage for Freeman and his issues," but the paper had to make choices with how to best use resources and personnel. “The main reason we haven’t covered it until something happened is that this is not high enough a job for us to cover relentlessly …” Baquet added….
Greg Sargent, [writing ironically at a website owned by the Washington Post Co.], … wrote that the Times “overall silence is even more bizarre when you consider that its hometown Senator — Chuck Schumer — played a major role in Freeman’s ouster, airing his opposition in private conversations with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.”
So, now that the New York Times and the Washington Post have discovered this important story, how is their coverage? Not so good, according to James Kirchick writing (link) at Contentions March 12:
[In today’s article,] the New York Times today essentially reprints Chas Freeman’s conspiratorial view of how his appointment as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council went down, in a story headlined “Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post.” There is no mention of Nancy Pelosi’s anger at Freeman’s support for the Tiananmen Square Massacre or the 87 Chinese dissidents and human rights activists who signed a letter in protest of his appointment. “The reality of Washington is that our political landscape finds it difficult to assimilate any criticism of any segment of the Israeli leadership,” the Times quotes Robert W. Jordan. Who’s he? Like Freeman, a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia…. Go figure. Having largely ignored this story for the past two weeks, the Times now puts this misleading piece on page 1…. A Washington Post story by Walter Pincus, meanwhile, is no better. Pincus, like the Timesmen, makes no effort to look past Freeman’s claims that he was done in by the “Israel Lobby,” ignoring the China angle….
My liberal friends would be wise to stop relying on the New York Times and the Washington Post for their news and information.

John M Greco