Jewish World Review July 27, 2001/7 Menachem-Av, 5761


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'The Times' is a five-letter word -- NEED more evidence that The Washington Post is the United States' legitimate liberal newspaper of record? The anti-American New York Times ceded that honorific years ago, and its plummet into the company of fringe publications like The Nation and The Progressive has accelerated remarkably since George W. Bush won the presidency last year.

Compare the front-page leads in both dailies from last Saturday about the violent demonstrations in Genoa.

The Times: "A 23-year-old Italian protester was shot and killed today by a police officer during a riot less than two miles from a gathering of leaders of the world's largest industrialized nations, who were protected by a 13-foot fence that anti-globalization demonstrators had vowed to breach.

"The killing in Genoa, a medieval seaport converted into a 21st-century citadel, is the first death during an anti-globalization demonstration since the movement tempestuously surfaced at a World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999. Today's grim milestone deepened an already widespread feeling that these kinds of international conferences and the vast and often violent protests they inspire cannot go on unchanged any longer."

True to form, the first head of state quoted in Alessandra Stanley and David E. Sanger's article was France's President Jacques Chirac, who said, "One hundred thousand people don't get upset unless there is a problem in their hearts and spirits." President Bush's reaction wasn't noted until the 13th paragraph, after considerable space was given to the opinions of Vittorio Agnoletti, "head of the Genoa Social Forum, an umbrella association of more than 700 anti-globalization groups," who called for an immediate suspension of the summit.

The Post: "For hours, shock troops of the two sides pelted each other. Demonstrators threw rocks and firebombs, police in full-body armor fired tear gas and swung clubs. But then on a street of this city's Piazza Tommaseo, the melee suddenly took a life.

"Demonstrators in black ski masks set upon a stopped police vehicle, they jumped on the roof and smashed the windows with crowbars. The young officers inside were screaming, in pain, terror and fury, witnesses said.

"One protester hoisted a fire extinguisher above his head with both hands, and aimed at the open rear window of the vehicle. An officer aimed with a pistol and shot, witnesses said. The protester fell. The jeep then ran over him, according to a Reuters photographer who watched the shooting.

"The scene marked a new level of violence in the protests that for the past 18 months have erupted almost every time leaders of the major industrial countries, global corporations or banks gather. For leaders of the Group of Eight, or G-8, industrial nations, starting a summit inside a 13th-century palace here, talk turned to how to get together in the future without having to impose what amounts to martial law on their host city.

"Nearly 100 demonstrators and security officials were injured during the day, as a crowd that police estimated in the tens of thousands gathered in Genoa after months of organizing, largely via the Internet. They represented a range of causes, from socialism to vegetarianism, but most shared an opposition to the increasingly worldwide reach of major corporations, which opponents contend are enriching executives at the expense of the poor and the environment."

Post reporters Mike Allen and Sarah Delaney, cognizant their article was printed in the United States, ignored France's ethics-challenged Chirac and gave Bush's comments the most play. The President, anticipating the throng of anarchists, vegetarians, thrill-seekers and committed leftists, said before he flew to Genoa: "To those folks, I say, instead of addressing policies that represent the poor, you embrace policies that lock poor people into poverty, and that's unacceptable to the United States. Trade has been the best avenue for economic growth for all countries and I reject the isolationism and protectionism that dominates those who will try to disrupt the meetings in Genoa."

Quite a contrast from Bill Clinton in Seattle two years ago, when he openly sympathized with the creeps who later trashed that city.

Another split between the Times and Post came on July 22, when both papers ran pieces about the GOP's moderate House members. The Times, in its lead editorial, "The G.O.P.'s Unsung Centrists," reached the absurd conclusion that Bush's agenda will ultimately be held hostage by this small group of Republicans who've become more important to the White House since the Democrats took control of the Senate. Read this stunner: "The moderates' discontent has already been amply ventilated on issues relating to the environment and energy. Mr. Bush and his key advisers [translated: Karl Rove] do not seem to grasp that many Republican suburbanites and affluent party contributors are also ardent environmentalists who give their time and money to conservation organizations."

Funny, if you've been a diligent Times student in the past year, until now all of Bush's financial support has come via millionaires from the oil and banking industries. Ever since the administration made a huge early mistake by temporarily jettisoning President Clinton's 11:59 p.m. reduction of arsenic levels in water-not that the Times criticized Clinton for failing to enact that legislation during his eight-year White House tenure-everyone's become a Robert Redford-like environmentalist. That's not accurate, but it suits Howell Raines' agenda of anti-Bush propaganda. The Post article-headlined "For GOP House Moderates, a Season of Discontent: Legislators Struggle to Effect Change Within Their Party While Remaining Loyal to Their Leadership"-was more balanced. Reporter Juliet Eilperin acknowledged the growing political influence of mostly Northeastern moderate Republicans, but refused to pretend, as did the Times, that the group was following the example of legacy-driven Sen. John McCain. True, Eilperin's piece wasn't an editorial, but that's also a key difference between the competing newspapers: At the Times, every political story, whether it's a front-page news or analysis piece, editorial or op-ed column, is indistinguishable in its point of view. The Times' reporter Richard Berke might as well be writing for Raines' section; ditto for Adam Clymer or David Sanger.

The Post, while not "objective" in the mythical First Rule of Journalism sense that some still hypocritically espouse, is at least far more restrained in its reporting. An example from Eilperin's story on the moderates: "'It's a struggle. You want to serve as a reminder to the conference that these are issues we feel very deeply about,' said Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who led the unsuccessful fight last week to ensure Bush's faith-based initiative did not exempt religious groups from state and local nondiscrimination laws. 'At the same time, we're loath to participate with the Democrats because we know they're using us for a tactical advantage.'"

On the Other Hand... Richard Mellon Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is a far right-wing newspaper that, along with lunatic, is about as reliable as its socialist counterparts In These Times and The Tribune-Review's July 18 obit-largely inaccurate-of The Washington Post's Katharine Graham was a disgraceful exercise in bad taste.

Whether you agreed with Graham's politics or not-politics that, in fact_were increasingly middle-of-the-road-the woman was an admirable publishing _executive. Woodward and Bernstein's Watergate triumph was one of the most significant stories of the 20th century: the only downside was that it encouraged far too many snotty college students, enticed by the sudden glamour of the profession, to become journalists when they'd be better suited for insurance agencies, or fetching coffee for Alan Dershowitz. But that wasn't Graham's fault.

The Tribune-Review wrote, in part: "[Graham] married Felix Frankfurter's brilliant law clerk, Philip Graham, who took over running The Post, which her father purchased at a bankruptcy sale. Graham built the paper but became estranged from Kay. She had him committed to a mental hospital, and he was clearly intending divorce when she signed him out and took him for a weekend outing during which he was found shot. His death was ruled a suicide. Within 48 hours, she declared herself the publisher... She truly was one of a kind."

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

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© 2001, Russ Smith