Journalists should be held to account for deceptive reporting of U.S. Attorney firings

Lorie Byrd
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Posted: Mar 16, 2007 12:08 AM
Journalists should be held to account for deceptive reporting of U.S. Attorney firings

Last week watching the coverage of the Libby verdict I wondered how it was possible for so many in the media to completely ignore Joe Wilson’s credibility problems in their reporting. This week, I was even more perplexed watching the media cover the story of the Bush Justice Department firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. How is it so many in the mainstream media think they can get away with deceiving their audience by ignoring the 1993 firings of 93 U.S. Attorneys by Bill Clinton?

The fact that few media reports included a reference to the Clinton firings is a much more important story, in my opinion, than the current firings themselves. The breathless reporting of the eight firings was presented in such a way to give the impression that a horrible and unprecedented crime had been committed. Most in the mainstream media actively misled their audiences by leaving out relevant information and context by refusing to reference similar activities of the previous administration

I learned back in 1993, when he took office, that it was no big deal Bill Clinton fired 93 U.S. Attorneys, including at least one working on investigations into his dealings in Arkansas. So when I heard about the recent eight firings, that was the first thing that came to mind, and I made judgments about the current case taking the previous one into consideration. I also could not help but think of the firing of the White House Travel Office by the Clintons to make room for a cousin and of the smearing of Billy Dale. (For those too young to remember Travelgate, check out the late Barbara Olson's book,

Hell to Pay.)

I would not be surprised to find that I am in the minority and that most hearing of the recent firings this week would not recall the Clinton cases. One reason is that most are not political news junkies like me, and another is that the Clinton firings were not portrayed the same sinister way in news reports as the current ones have been. I was still surprised, though, that none of the reporters currently covering the story seemed to recall the 93 Clinton firings in their reporting. Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center's "

Reality Check" reported the following:

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared on five broadcast and cable network TV morning shows to comment on the sudden media-manufactured ‘crisis’ that the Justice Department fired eight U.S. Attorneys, political appointees of the President. None of the Gonzales interviewers - at ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and FNC - ever mentioned that the Clinton administration fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys in 1993... The TV journalists asked Gonzales 42 questions this morning, and not one touched on the previous administration. Every network asked Gonzales whether he would resign – 10 times in total.”

Coverage of stories like this not only show the true bias of a liberal media determined to “get” the current administration, but also show how secure those in the media (as well as Democrats like Hillary Clinton) are that their double standards and hypocrisy will not be exposed. Thanks to people like Brent Bozell and others, they are being exposed in the new media. Now the question is whether or not they will be exposed in the mainstream media or if the facts will remain hidden from the viewers of ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN.

The success of new media like talk radio, blogs and the Fox News Channel has provided an outlet for information suppressed by the mainstream media. Thanks to new media, much information once held back by liberal editorial gates now reaches the public. In spite of the fact that new media is reaching increasing numbers, it is still difficult for some information to break into the mainstream outlets. Even facts and stories that are all over the internet and talk radio often remain ignored by the networks and the major daily newspapers.

Even though it is the buzz on the radio and all over the internet, I won’t be surprised if the mainstream media reporters continue to suppress information about the 1993 firings and how they compare to the recent ones. After all, it isn’t likely that all those liberal reporters, who certainly must realize the way information about the 1993 firings would influence public perception of the current case, are all of a sudden going to admit they withheld that information. Just how would a reporter “break” that fourteen-year old news after ignoring it for over a week?

Too often conservatives are dumbstruck by how absolutely brazen those on the left can be when manipulating public opinion. If you asked me a week ago whether or not the current story of the eight firings could be reported without mentioning the 93 firings by the previous administration, I would have said the very thought is absurd.

Conservatives/Republicans need to realize that they cannot depend on the public, which includes many who get their news from the late night comics, to remember the details of something that happened fourteen years ago which was not reported as a sinister crime, as the current case has been. They certainly cannot rely on liberal journalists to report the news accurately and in context if their alternative option is to manufacture a scandal that could hurt the Bush administration.

One thing that really bothered me about Bill Clinton, from his very first press conference as President, was that he constantly blamed his political opponents for everything. He reminded me of a child who always points a finger at someone else, too immature to take responsibility for his own actions. Many on the right side of the aisle are too reluctant to point out their opponents’ weaknesses and particularly their hypocrisy.

As much as Clinton’s propensity to blame others annoyed me, it did work for him politically. Maybe conservatives should take a page from the Clinton playbook and use every opportunity they appear on network news programs to more forcefully put forward the facts the liberal media wants to ignore -- including pointing out their opponents’ hypocrisy. If that means using every network television interview to call journalists out for their misleading reporting, and results in fewer invitations to appear, then so be it. It is way past time to hold the mainstream media to account for their deceptive and just plain shoddy reporting and time to stop assisting them in their fraud.

In the first paragraph I asked, “How is it so many in the mainstream media think they can get away with deceiving their audience by ignoring the 1993 firings of 93 U.S. Attorneys by Bill Clinton?” The answer is simple – they think they will get away with that kind of reporting because they always have.