In the current atmosphere, liberals and their media friends have suggested it's wrong for President Bush to pick a partisan-pleasing choice instead of a mealy-mouthed so-called moderate who offends nobody on the Left. But when the job is network anchorman, partisanship seems to be required. When Dan Rather first pushed the Bush National Guard "scandal" in early 2004, there was CBS's Roberts flailing to keep the anti-Bush narrative alive. Even after dental records showed young George W. Bush on base with the National Guard in 1973, Roberts even groused how "the dentist who treated him has no specific recollection of seeing the future president." Partisanship doesn't grease your way to the nation's highest court, but it is a path to promotion at CBS.
Liberal groups are already putting front and center the Bush nominee's decisions on court cases involving a 12-year-old French-fry-eater on the Washington subway system and the alleged endangering of an obscure variety of southwestern toad. But imagine the yuks that could be enjoyed as a confirmation committee explored CBS's Roberts worrying in 1994 about killer golf courses: "If you took all the golf courses in all the land and put them together, they would equal the size of Delaware and Rhode Island. But the chemicals needed to tend those 3,000 square miles of grass are raising fears the links may be lethal."
Journalists walk around with the knee-jerk assumption that they are the most essential forces of democracy, there to enrich the nation and its citizens. They truly see themselves as the conscience of the country, the First Amendment ideal in the flesh. Thus it is inconceivable to them that anyone would cast them as less than idealistic, less than fair and accurate, less than helpful to the nation's well being.
But venture out of the press buildings and into the street, and it's altogether a different world, where journalists are viewed with ever-increasing disdain and distrust. Why should anyone begin by assuming reporters have only noble motives, and perform only noble functions, when on a daily basis they assault the values held dear by most Americans?
CBS's Roberts should be thankful that another man with his name and not he will be on the firing line in the coming months. If his job were contingent on the blessings of John Q. Public, he might need to explore another line of work.
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