Jewish World Review May 1, 2003/ 29 Nissan 5763

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Consumer Reports

Why Won't the Times Come Clean?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | IT WOULD BE entirely unorthodox, but imagine if the New York Times had the guts to back up its daily sniping at President Bush by prematurely endorsing one of his Democratic challengers for the 2004 election. Such a decision would gain an enormous amount of respect among readers of every ideological persuasion. Honesty‹which executive editor Howell Raines does not exude‹counts. Say next week the Times tapped Sen. John Kerry (a matter of the head winning over the heart's choice of Howard Dean) as its choice for the next president. No longer could critics complain of an agenda that's in lockstep with the Democratic Party, because the paper's beliefs would be out in the open and not shrouded by the myth of objectivity.

This thought came to mind last Saturday while reading the Times' lead editorial, "Assessing the Weapons Search," in which the writer offered a tortured and long-winded opinion of why Bush's decision to destroy Saddam Hussein's regime will be largely discredited if the "smoking gun" of weapons of mass destruction are not found. As in immediately.

The editorial begins: "One continuing divide between those who supported the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq and those who opposed it seems to be weapons of mass destruction. Many opponents, while stunned by the swiftness with which the Iraqi government and military crumbled, harp on the failure by American troops to produce any definitive proof so far that Iraq had chemical or biological, let alone nuclear, weapons. Those who supported the war are for the most part muting whatever concern they may feel. President Bush, in an interview with Tom Brokaw on NBC News this week, expressed confidence that the weapons would be found but warned that it might take some time."

The paper concludes that it'll take the verification of "international inspectors" to make any discoveries believable. Perhaps Raines and Co. think that the CIA will plant WMD in some underground bunker outside of Baghdad and offer that as proof to the world.

It would save a lot of time and gnashing of teeth if the Times simply admitted it believes Bush is an irresponsible, trigger-happy moron, a spoiled cowboy/frat brat, and then slog on with its bashing of the president unencumbered by even a shred of ambiguity.

While it's true that the U.S. equivalent of Britain's unapologetic left-wing Guardian is more genteel than blowhards like Robert Fisk, Helen Thomas, Nancy Pelosi and 75 percent of academia, the paper is no less determined to defeat Bush in 2004, primarily because of the Florida recount an eon ago.

Certainly it will take time to discover the WMD and biological weapons, but why would the Times trust inspectors‹like lifetime bureaucrat Hans Blix‹more than the small coalition that actually liberated Iraq? Oh, I forgot: Iraq wasn't "liberated," it was conquered, which led to looting, shortages of food, water and electricity and most damaging of all, the pillaging of the country's national museum. (That the thieves were professionals, anticipating the chaos, is apparently a minor detail.)

Never mind that the Times' own John Burns wrote detailed articles about the extent of Saddam's torture chambers, routine executions and the stealing of money that was meant for his subjects. Or that the dictator paid off the families of Palestinian suicide bombers who murdered innocent Israelis. A Mesopotamian vase is still at large: Therefore the invasion was a colossal and vicious blunder, a crime against civilization.

Obviously, the Times' skewed coverage isn't limited to Bush and his administration (with the exception of Colin Powell, who'd probably be treated differently if he were white), but to most of the Republican Party as well. Sens. Lincoln Chafee, Olympia Snowe and George Voinovich, the courageous "moderates," are temporarily off the hook.

The point here is the Times' case-by-case outrage. The paper published no rebuke of Rep. James Moran (unlike the Washington Post) when he claimed those nasty Jews were behind Bush's decision to invade Iraq. That's called anti-Semitism, Mr. Raines, and your decision to let Moran slide is morally reprehensible.

As was the lack of editorial comment about Democratic Sen. Patty Murray's comments in December that Osama bin Laden was doing more for the underprivileged in the world than the United States, such as building hospitals and day care centers in the Third World. Or when Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur told the Toledo Blade last March: "One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purposes are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that cast off the British crown."

Apparently, it's just dandy that an idiot like Kaptur might compare bin Laden to Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, to mention just a few American heroes.

By the way, there was no mention in the Times' pages about Sen. Kerry's acceptance of an endorsement by Alex Sanders who last year tossed off a gay slur against Rudy Giuliani in his losing South Carolina senate race. Sanders said: "[Giuliani's] wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men... Is that South Carolina values? I don't think so." As the Boston Herald reported on April 27, Kerry didn't grasp the contradiction when he attacked Santorum and Bush, saying, "The White House speaks the rhetoric of compassionate conservatism, but they're silent while their chief lieutenants make divisive and hurtful comments that have no place in our politics."

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JWR contributor "Mugger" -- aka Russ Smith -- is the editor-in-chief and CEO of New York Press (www.nypress.com). Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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