ITAL) be given that accolade in Newsweek. The "culture wars" are raging, and
the national media are anything but a dispassionate gaggle of observers.
They clearly see themselves as an army of "moral passion" firing bullets and
missiles from the left. One wishes they had the courage to admit it.
Anyone who doesn't believe that journalism is often politics by
other means ought to learn a little about Jerry Thacker and Sarah Pettit.
How Donald Graham's little Washington Post-Newsweek empire regarded these
people will give you a taste for why the media elite are described as
concerned about liberalism first, and professionalism maybe later.
Jerry Thacker was named to the President's Advisory Commission
on HIV and AIDS, a quiet little panel based in the Department of Health and
Human Services. On Jan. 23, the Post put this backwater on the front page.
Reporter Ceci Connolly suggested Thacker was unfit for government service
because of several words he had allegedly used. He called AIDS a "gay
plague." He described homosexuality as a "deathstyle" and asserted that
"Christ can rescue the homosexual."
Connolly didn't put these comments in context. On the Web site
of his Scepter Institute, a biography of Thacker explained that in 1986, "He
knew vaguely about the 'gay plague' known as AIDS, but it seemed a distant
threat." But then he, his wife and daughter contracted the disease through a
tainted transfusion. The Post story did not explain that the plague quote a)
did not come out of Thacker's mouth, as implied, nor that b) it was put in
quotes in this biography. By that standard, Connolly could be deprived of
future government work, given that she, too, used that quote.
So Thacker wasn't really "quoted" on "gay plague." What about
the "deathstyle"? Connolly did explain in print how she got that one: from a
Web site summary of Thacker's remarks on AIDS at his alma mater, Bob Jones
University. Once again, Connolly couldn't find Thacker saying it. So how can
she state as fact that Thacker used the term, instead of attributing it
directly -- and solely -- to the university staffer trying to summarize? She
can because she wants to. Being a Post reporter means never having to worry
about being factually sloppy.
With a war coming up and several million other issues in
government more pressing than this, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer did not
check out the Post's manipulation of these remarks before the subject
surfaced. But reporters in the briefing room wanted Thacker out before he
got in. The questions poured out: "A member of the administration's AIDS
advisory council has called AIDS 'a gay plague'... Does the president
condone that kind of language? ... What qualifications did Jerry Thatcher
have for the job, to be on this council, and why is he still on it?"
An unprepared Fleischer scrambled to placate the reporters: "No,
the president does not share that view; the president has a totally opposite
view ... That remark is far removed from what the president believes."
Thacker's resignation letter soon landed on HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson's
desk. Score one for the Post.
There's a powerful truth here. The liberal media will toss out
the window, on a moment's notice, any semblance of objectivity or balance
when it interferes with the gay left's agenda.
The press openly does the bidding of this lobby. In fact, they
openly hire gay activists to decide what is "news" to ensure their worldview
Take Sarah Pettit, cut down at age 36 by lymphoma. Newsweek
devoted a page in its Feb. 3 edition to an appreciation, headlined "Editor,
gay activist and happy warrior." Newsweek hired her as their arts and
entertainment editor in 1999 after she spent a decade in the gay-left press,
including founding and editing Out magazine.
Pettit was lauded for bringing "sophistication" to Newsweek with
her gay activism. But that hasn't meant nuance or balance on news stories on
homosexuality. It meant the opposite. It meant toeing a rigidly pro-gay
line. (The radical activists who sought to censor and then ruin Dr. Laura
Schlessinger's TV talk show, for example, were described in Pettit's section
as "antihate groups.")
But Pettit worked to drag the whole "news" magazine left. In his
appreciation, David Gates fondly remembered her political animus: "at the
morning editorial meetings, she'd be protesting any rightward deviationism
in Newsweek's political coverage." In an internal memo, editor Mark Whitaker
declared, "While she often served as the 'loyal opposition' in challenging
much of what was written in Newsweek, she had a deep commitment to the
institution. ... we'll miss the intellectual honesty and moral passion that
Sarah brought to so many discussions around the editors 'table.'" "Loyal
opposition"? Apparently, the political spectrum at Newsweek starts at
Eleanor Clift and then moves left from there.
"Moral passion"? No conservative would