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Jewish World Review Nov. 3, 1999/22 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Keyes vs.
media lapdogs -- THERE IS SIMPLY no escaping the conclusion that the mainstream media forfeited their role as government watchdogs long ago and became big-government lapdogs.

Dr. Alan Keyes illustrated this point in his remarks during and after last week's GOP presidential debate at Dartmouth. The media confirmed it by their various reactions.

In the debate, Keyes sharply declared that the U.S. is justified in withholding its $1 billion membership dues to the United Nations and that he was unashamed of helping to devise that policy while serving in the Reagan administration.

Hard-earned U.S. taxpayer funds he said, instead of being used to assist developing nations, are diverted into the pockets of their elitist leaders who oppose the free market approaches that would enable their countries to work their way out of poverty. He closed with, "Sorry about that."

The next day, the media misinterpreted that closing as an apology for his tone in answering the question. To the contrary, he wasn't apologizing at all.

But for their obtuseness, the media would have grasped that Keyes was saying, "Like it or not, I'm not going to roll over and provide the mindless, politically correct answer you expect."

Keyes also said that he favors eliminating the income tax entirely. He reminded us that Marx and Lenin advocated an income tax because in principle, it cedes to the government control of every last dollar that is made or earned in the economy. Precisely.

Viewed in that context, it's not difficult to understand why the president, and many in Congress, harbor the offensive notion that our money is their money -- that tax cuts are not refunds, but government gifts. But this point was also doubtlessly lost on the redistributionist media, who suffer from a learning disability concerning the concept of private property.

Though available for media questions following the debate, Keyes was virtually ignored by the approximately 300 reporters present. He mildly rebuked them, suggesting they may be having difficulty looking past his race and to his merit.

He contrasted the media's apathetic reaction to that of the audiences around the country, which always respond to him with enthusiasm. Then, he excoriated them for shirking their responsibility "not to let vice take place in darkness and not to let virtue languish unnoticed."

If they were doing their job of informing the public, candidates wouldn't have to spend so much money, and their pet cause of campaign finance reform would be largely unnecessary.

Don't just dismiss these as the comments of a frustrated candidate. Keyes may really be on to something here. Just think about how much favorable free coverage the media has given Senator McCain for carrying their campaign finance reform water.

If the mainstream media would spend just a fraction of the energy in trying to inform the public that they exert in trying to influence it, we would have a more sophisticated and less manipulable electorate. There would be less incentive for exorbitant campaign expenditures and less "need" for reform.

But that isn't likely to happen. The media are too busy basking in self-glorification to police or reform themselves. They are too intoxicated with a messianic complex to engage in the critical introspection necessary to resume their function as news providers. Plus, they aren't motivated to inform the people, but to indoctrinate them to the liberal worldview.

The media are too involved in helping make the news to report it objectively. Compare their dogged pursuit of Richard Nixon with their enablement of Bill Clinton. With the former, they were chief prosecutor and with the latter, the get-away driver.

Why would they take any action that might relieve the pressure for campaign finance reform when doing so would work against their influence oligopoly?

Regardless of their motivations, the elite media are undeniably guilty of turning a deaf ear to Keyes' idea of America recapturing its founding principles. Indeed, because they see the world through their monolithic liberal prism, they are incapable of fully appreciating the themes of freedom he so eloquently articulates -- which is ironic considering they see themselves as the sacred stewards of our nation's liberties.

There was a time when the mainstream press provided an indispensable check against the ever-present possibility of corruption in government. Those days are gone.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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09/29/99: Reagan: Big-tent conservatism
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