But let's introduce the idea of bias and partisanship into the media secrecy equation, because it underscores a different kind of private interest -- reporters and editors privately rooting for one party or the other to win the day. In the 1990s, when national-security reporter Bill Gertz at the Washington Times broke one story after another using anonymous sources, making the Clinton-Gore administration look weak on national defense, did the rest of the national media elite run to copy the story? Usually, the answer was no, because they did not believe Gertz and/or his anonymous sources were truthful or nonpartisan. In a word, they didn't want to further the damage these stories were inflicting on their Democratic friends in the White House.
So what makes the New York Times more trustworthy or believable?
The paper's sympathy for liberalism is clear in its news columns and its editorial pages, from executive editor Bill Keller's inane old declarations that Pope John Paul brought communism to the Catholic Church to hippie publisher Arthur Sulzberger's recent graduation speech proclaiming that liberals shouldn't still have to be protesting "a misbegotten war in a foreign land." When the New York Times is whacking at this administration with anonymous sources, why do the rest of the national media jump to publicize it, no questions asked? Please don't try the line that the New York Times is the essence of American journalistic objectivity. It is to laugh. Even (SET ITAL) Keller (END ITAL) doesn't believe that myth, insisting to CBS anchor Bob Schieffer that "we're not neutral" in the war on terrorism. And yet others at the Times continue playing the objectivity card. In a cozy appearance on National Public Radio's "The Diane Rehm Show," Times reporter Eric Lichtblau insisted that "I saw no sign that the people that I talked to were motivated by political concerns ... I think it's a mistake for your listeners to think that leakers, as people like to call them, are motivated by political smear campaigns, are out to hurt the president. I think that's an oversimplification of why people put themselves in that position." Rehm could have asked, but unsurprisingly chose not to: Did Lichtblau ask these anonymous sources if they had personal agendas? Or ask them who they voted for in the last election? Can Lichtblau tell us these anonymous leakers were all pure of heart, all unblemished patriots? And considering the biases of the Times, should anyone believe him? L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2006 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.