Nor has CBS explained why it did not tell the public that the memos had been questioned by the family of the officer who had supposedly written them; that CBS got them from a erratic, wacky, anti-Bush zealot, not an "unimpeachable" source as Rather had claimed; and that the ex-lieutenant governor who confessed to Rather he had gotten Bush into the Guard had previously said the opposite under oath.
And why was CBS maniacally pursuing a National Guard story that had been knocking around for a decade, while ignoring the new dynamite charges of the Swift Boat Vets that Kerry had lied about his combat record in Vietnam and colluded with communists? In August, the whole country was talking about the Swift Boat ads.
As Kurtz reports, the nonpartisan Project for Excellence in Journalism has now documented a media bias toward Kerry and an animus toward this president.
During the two-week period around the presidential debates, 59 percent of the stories about Bush on CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS's "News Hour," CNN and Fox News, and in The Washington Post and The New York Times were negative, but only 25 percent of the stories about John Kerry. One in three stories about Kerry was positive, but only one in seven about Bush. In the print media, 68 percent of the stories were negative on Bush, but only 26 percent were negative on Kerry.
Fox News was positive on Bush, but CNN's Aaron Brown's made Fox look like the profile of an ambivalent and undecided voter. According to Kurtz, citing the Project, "not a single CNN story was both dominated by and positive for President Bush." Not one.
After Paul Bremer said we did not send enough troops to Iraq, John Roberts, possible successor to Rather, said: "The famously disciplined Bush campaign appeared to trip all over itself trying to clean up the mess. ... A day of contradictory messages is not the way the Bush campaign wanted to go into this important debate."
With folks like Fager doing the choosing, Roberts should have the inside track to the anchor's chair.
In a revealing story, Slate, the Internet magazine, had its writers publicly name the man for whom each intended to vote and tell why. Five Slate writers named Bush, 45 named Kerry, a nine-to-one ratio. A poll of the national press would likely reach the same result.
This election has indeed revealed an "alternative media" of the right. But the national press remains what it has been since the 1960s: the most reliably left-wing voting block this side of Bedford Stuyvesant.
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