Shoe on the other foot?

Posted: Dec 04, 2002 12:00 AM
The nation's two leading Democratic politicians have had public meltdowns in the past two weeks. First, Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Senate majority leader until January, claimed that Rush Limbaugh was sending hit squads to his home. And now former Vice President Al Gore, taking a page from Hillary Clinton's playbook, has stepped forward to denounce the vast right-wing conspiracy among members of the press. The press? He's kidding, right? Apparently not. Here's what he told the New York Observer: "Something will start at the Republican National Committee, inside the building, and it will explode the next day on the right-wing talk shows network and on Fox News and in the newspapers that play this game, The Washington Times and others." Who is behind this cabal? Here's Gore again: "The Fox News network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh ... there's a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy, ultra-conservative billionaires who made political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media. ... Most of the media (have) been slow to recognize this fifth column in their ranks." It is disagreeable to be criticized, misrepresented, lampooned and otherwise insulted by members of the press. Conservatives have been enduring it for centuries (OK, decades). But the overheated reaction of liberals to a dose of their own medicine is amazing -- particularly considering the fact that liberals still overwhelmingly dominate the media. If the existence of Fox News, The Washington Times and Rush Limbaugh is so painful to Daschle, Gore and Co., let's propose a swap. If we give them those three outlets, they give us ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, PBS, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, the National Council of Churches, the American Bar Association, Hollywood ... whew, I got carried away! For those who live in the real world, the merry band at the Media Research Center has compiled its annual list of outrageous quotations from members of the fourth estate. Judge for yourself whether what is revealed here supports or undermines Al Gore's case. Writing in Time about the capture of the Washington area snipers, Karen Tumulty and Viveca Novak noted: "Gun rights advocates have been emboldened by an administration that is sympathetic to their cause. The closeness was underscored by the fact that the military-style gun used in the sniper attacks -- named, unfortunately for the White House, Bushmaster XM15 -- was manufactured by a company owned by Richard Dyke, a Bush fund-raiser." CNN's Candy Crowley waxed euphoric about Sen. Ted Kennedy's record: "He is the last of the liberal lions, roaring on behalf of the voiceless. ... The 30-year-old with nothing but a name to run on turned 70 as one of the premier legislators of the 20th century. ... He has championed civil rights, pushed for improved education and better health care. His name is on hundreds, probably thousands of bills. ... He is an undiluted, undeterrable liberal, but a closet pragmatist (who) ... prefers results over rhetoric." Barbara Walters offered this trenchant comment on a world-class killer: "For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth. The literacy rate is 96 percent." Seymour Hersh, star reporter for the New Yorker, said, "We have an attorney general that (sic) is, I don't know, how would you describe him, demented?" ABC's Terry Moran demanded to know from presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer if he could "assure the American people that this elevated threat alert is not part of the administration's effort to convince people that the danger is such that military action against Iraq is necessary?" And, of course, perennial honoree in the Media Research Center's list Peter Jennings: "Attorney General John Ashcroft today talked about the foreign nationals who have been questioned by law enforcement in many parts of the country since November. The Justice Department planned to interview 5,000 foreigners, most of them Arabs or Arab-American. Now Mr. Ashcroft says he wants another 3,000 interviews. Many of those already questioned say it was terrifying that they were, in their words, 'victims of ethnic profiling.'" Both Daschle and Gore came of age in a world with virtually no dissent from these sorts of views. They liked it that way. Now that a small, but potent, opposition is finding its voice, the liberals are screaming "conspiracy!" Good grief.