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Missing in Action: American Mainstream Media

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Back when our military failed to find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, The New York Times apologized to its readers.


Before the war, the paper wrote article after article -- relying on both government and non-government sources -- that assumed the presence of stockpiles. Three of its reporters even wrote a book called "Germs," in which they discussed Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological programs.

But when the stockpiles failed to appear, the paper felt used, manipulated by the "devious" Bush administration. It promised its readers greater skepticism, more scrutiny, and no more at-face-value acceptance of assertions by the Bush administration. "The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter," wrote the Times in 2004, "but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on 'regime change' in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks. … Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations -- in particular, this one." Quoth the Times, "Nevermore"!

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But with hard-left Democratic President Barack Obama and large Democratic majorities running both the House and the Senate, the mainstream media -- the ones that felt used and manipulated by the Bush administration -- now purr like a contented kitten after a hearty meal.

During the debate over the $787 billion stimulus package and while preparing his budget, the President projected an average unemployment rate for 2009 of 8 percent. It now stands at 9.4 percent. Where's the criticism about "rosy scenarios"? The Chinese show more concern than do our media about our exploding debt, deficit and impending inflation and high interest rates -- given our unprecedented spending/borrowing/printing of money.

The President recently repeated the assertion that the stimulus package already "created or saved" 150,000 jobs and that going forward, the package expects to "create or save" 600,000 jobs by the end of summer. How does one prove a job "saved"? And how many jobs are lost by transferring money from a taxpayer to a beneficiary?

The government now puts itself in charge of everything from running large companies, such as General Motors, to determining compensation for businesses under government control. Presidents Reagan and Bush-41 each appointed one "czar" -- a "drug czar." Clinton added two more -- a "health czar" and an "AIDS czar." George W. had four -- dropping the "health czar" while adding one for national intelligence and one for cybersecurity. Obama has -- so far -- appointed some 15 "czars," including a "technology czar," a "car czar," a "pay czar" and a "Great Lakes czar." Objections or concerns about an unconstitutional seizure of power, anyone?

Where are the stories reminding us of the smashing job government does in running Amtrak or the post office?

Where are the stories contrasting Canada's move toward greater privatization of its health care system to the President's desire to move toward a Canadian model?

The President promises health insurance for the more than 40 million Americans without it. What will it cost, and who pays? The President promises a carbon tax on American businesses to reduce global warming. What's the cost, and who pays? Will it, in fact, reduce "global warming," and if it does, will the benefits outweigh the liabilities? What does it say that voters in European country after European country voted in conservatives while America voted for the most liberal president in our history?

In defending his magazine's critical coverage of the Bush administration, Newsweek editor Evan Thomas asserted that it was the media's job to "bash the President." But after Obama's election, the strident Bush-hating Chris Matthews of MSNBC evidently spoke for many in the traditional media when he said that his job as a journalist is to "make … this new presidency work."

The Pew Research Center examined the coverage of President Obama versus that of G.W. Bush and Clinton: "President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George Bush during their first months in the White House, according to a new study of press coverage. Overall, roughly four out of ten stories, editorials and op ed columns about Obama have been clearly positive in tone, compared with 22 percent for Bush and 27 percent for Clinton in the same mix of seven national media outlets during the same first two months in office."

NBC's Brian Williams, invited to tag along with the President for a day, produced a fawning, groveling, breathlessly uncritical piece. Even PBS' hyper-liberal Bill Moyers criticized the coverage, calling it "the kind of Valentine every White House press secretary yearns to hand the boss."

Despite the President's personal popularity, Americans remain sharply divided on his major economic proposals. Most oppose bailouts of financial firms and car companies. For the first time, the President's "strong disapproval" numbers equal his "strong approval" numbers.

Today we witness the greatest government intrusion into our economy in history. As these tax-and-spend, socialist, job-destroying, prosperity-restricting practices take hold, we witness another transformation.

Our traditional media switch from anti-Bush attack dog to Obama-swooning lap dog.

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