Jewish World Review Feb. 13, 2013/ 2 Adar, 5773
Drones, Double Standards and the So-Called Mainstream Media
By Bernard Goldberg
Like the president I think it's perfectly okay to aim a drone missile right between the eyes of the terrorist, American or otherwise, and blow his brains out without so much as a judge or jury first declaring him guilty.
The fact that he's a traitor fighting for al Qaeda means he's guilty on the face of it.
If President Obama ever decides to go after Americans who are not terrorists, say, while they're sipping a Frappaccino grande at a Starbucks in Cleveland, then I'll get excited. Absent that, drone away, Mr. President. No problem here.
But I am interested in how what passes for the mainstream media have been handling the drone story.
Now that NBC News broadcast a leaked memo about the president's justification for killing American terrorists with drones, the story is all over the place. It's become too tough to play down. There's even disapproval coming from bastions of liberal journalism, like the editorial page of the New York Times.
But before the secret memo made it on the air, the so-called mainstream media showed precious little outrage over the president's use of drones, which Mr. Obama is deploying in far greater numbers than President Bush ever thought about. Certainly the liberal outrage, in and out of the media, never reached the levels that the Left showed over President Bush's use of waterboarding to get information out of terrorists we had captured.
Never mind that none of the (3) terrorists who were subject to what liberals like to call "torture" ever died because of waterboarding while many terrorists have died after being blasted by a drone missile. Besides the terrorists, more than a few innocent civilians have been killed by drone strikes ordered by President Obama, some of them little children.
You'd think that liberal journalists and their civilian counterparts who were incensed over waterboarding it was a war crime and a violation of American standards and ideals, they told us might show the same outrage over drone attacks that leave all sorts of people, guilty and innocent, dead.
But they didn't. With a few exceptions, the media's moral outrage went poof? It evaporated. It simply disappeared into thin air.
For the most part, they weren't troubled all that much by the president's doubletalk on the issue. Four months after he took office, he said this:
"Now let me be clear: We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability. For reasons that I will explain, the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions, and that failed to use our values as a compass."
As Peter Wehner noted in a column for Commentary Magazine: "… it is true that there is a serious argument to be made that during wartime targeting terrorists, including Americans, with drones is justified. But that justification probably best not come from someone who has spent much of the last half-dozen years or so sermonizing against waterboarding, accusing those who approved such policies of trashing American ideals and shredding our civil liberties, and portraying himself as pure as the new-driven snow. Because any person who did so would be vulnerable to the charge of moral preening and moral hypocrisy."
And by sermonizing against interrogation by waterboarding and downplaying killing by drones, members of Mr. Obama's loyal base liberal journalists are no less guilty of moral preening and moral hypocrisy.
There are two reasons for their lack of passion on the drone story. The first has to do with controversy. The media love controversy but there was virtually none when it came to drones, except for Code Pink and the ACLU and a few other morally consistent institutions of the far Left. They detested waterboarding and they felt the same away about drone attacks.
But conservatives, by and large, had no objections to President Obama's use of drones to kill terrorists, including American terrorists. Except for Ron Paul, none of the Republicans running for president made drones an issue.
So many journalists figured, no controversy, no story.
The second reason is just as empty. And here it is in three words: They love him.
Journalists fell in love with Mr. Obama early on and when you love somebody as deeply as they love him, it's not all that hard to look the other way at the kind of behavior that would make your skin crawl if it came from somebody else.
It's too bad so many journalists don't have the capacity to be humiliated. If they did, they'd be ashamed of how hard they've fallen for this politician from Chicago. I suspect even he doesn't respect them.
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JWR contributor Bernard Goldberg, the television news reporter and author of several bestselling books, among them, Bias, a New York Times number one bestseller about how the media distort the news. He is widely seen as one of the most original writers and thinkers in broadcast journalism. Mr. Goldberg covered stories all over the world for CBS News and has won 10 Emmy awards for excellence in journalism. He now reports for the widely acclaimed HBO broadcast Real Sports.
He is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey and a member of the school's Hall of Distinguished Alumni and proprietor of BernardGoldberg.com.
© 2011, Bernard Goldberg