Few have a better understanding of the liberal media elite than Ari Fleischer, who spent several years deflecting the daily barrage of arrogant and accusatory media questions as the first White House press secretary under President Bush. His new book, "Taking Heat," has been panned by liberals for having no Bush-trashing moments in it. One can also safely conclude they're the ones who don't want you to read his chapters exposing the liberal ways of the reporters who baited him in the briefing room for three years.
Liberals looking back on the first Bush term would like you to pretend with them that the White House press corps was -- and is -- an intimidated pack of puffballs, offering no challenge to Bush as he leads America into that disastrous quagmire presently known as the democratic wave sweeping the Middle East.
Truth is, Fleischer was impressive in the nearly impossible job of keeping the anti-Bush hounds of the press at bay. They were harsh in the first days, when they were bitter about not getting to suck up to President Gore. They were hostile in the last days, as John Kerry's chances slipped away.
They were even bitter just weeks after Sept. 11. On Nov. 29, 2001, Newsday's Ken Fireman was already comparing a new Justice Department program for getting anti-terrorist tips to "what totalitarian societies like East Germany and the Soviet Union used to do." Then there was Helen Thomas, always throwing up bitter questions from the loony left at Fleischer. Before the war, she always tried to underline Bush's thirst for blood: "You people are acting like this is a conversion to democracy by the sword! How can you, I mean, are you going to kill all these people, to get democracy [in Iraq]?" Fleischer lists a lot of these inflammatory questions in the book to frustrate those delusional oddballs who ask: "What liberal media?"
Some on the left have lamely tried to challenge his charges. In one section, Fleischer notes that the stories he was seeing on partial-birth abortion always located "social conservatives," but wouldn't define Planned Parenthood or other abortion advocates as "social liberals." At the leftist website Salon.com, writer Eric Boehlert protested that if Fleischer had searched Nexis for "U.S. media mentions" of "social liberal" during Fleischer's days on the job from 2001 to 2003, "he would have seen the 725 matches it retrieved."