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Mo' Better Liberal Media

Exclusive commentary by Greg Lewis /
July 8, 2003

It's not just the Jason Blair nastiness that has besmirched the New York Times' reputation. Times reporters have been telling lies and presenting opinion as fact — often in the service of a Leftist, anti-American agenda — at least since the paper's world-renowned fact-checkers allowed Walter Duranty's blatant (and readily refutable) untruths about the famine in the Soviet Union to see the light of day in the early 1930s.

So bad, indeed, has the situation become that the New York Times' rating has recently been downgraded by the Partie Internationale Socialiste (PIS) from "Useful Idiots" to just plain "Idiots." PIS complains, in its explanation of the ratings degradation, that, with her recent loss of credibility, the Great Red Lady — as The New York Times is referred to by Communist insiders (You didn't know that?) — is no longer an effective tool for the promulgation of Leftist/Communist/socialist agitprop.

"Too many people no longer believe the lies the Times prints," complained Alexei Kulakov, spokesman for the organization issuing the rating. "When your cover is blown, you might as well wave the white flag. It's over. Time to find another mouthpiece. It's too bad, really . . . the Times has been so effective . . . " Here Kulakov's voice trailed off wistfully, signalling the end of the interview.

Such a dramatic event as the downgrading of the Times' usefulness rating by a simpatico organization suggests that an exploration of the role of Leftist media and spokespeople in the perpetuation of a Marxist agenda is in order.

Let it be said from the outset that the current crop of Left/liberals pales in comparison to their counterparts of the 1930s. Most people understand that, visible and vocal as many of them are, leftists in the entertainment industry — from Michael Moore to Susan Sarandon to Martin Sheen to Ed Asner — are never even remotely qualified to speak on issues such as national security and military policy. They can weigh in with opinions, as can other Americans, but their opinions must be aggressively discounted, if they're considered at all. Even taking them with the proverbial grain of salt is giving them more credit than they could possibly be due.

Compare this to the case of Walter Duranty. Back in the 1930s, New York Times reporter Duranty was actually awarded a Nobel Prize in Journalism for perpetuating the same order of untruth that today must typically be advanced by mere celebrities . . . and Maureen Dowd. Duranty consistently denied that Russians, particularly Ukrainians, were dying in criminal numbers of starvation as a result of Soviet "agrarian reform" policy. Duranty repeatedly asserted that "there is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation" as a result of Soviet policies. In fact, more than six million people died in the great famine of 1932-33 in the Soviet Union as a direct result of Stalin's collectivization of Soviet agriculture. (A committee has recently been appointed to explore the possibility that — duh! — Duranty's Pulitzer Prize should be rescinded.)

Even on the left, no one expects that Sean Penn is likely to be a Nobel Peace Prize nominee in the near future. (Although, I guess if you factor in that Palestinian terrorist Yasser Arafat — who, as the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported, is currently funding Hamas terror attacks on Israel with millions of dollars channeled through Libya in a direct effort to undermine his Prime Minister and the Middle East peace process — has actually been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, anything is possible.)

The point is that, although they might appear to have impeccable qualifications, those espousing a Leftist ideology are not to be taken seriously today. Leftism has become an attitude and not a philosophy. It's no longer a worldview, it's simply a point-of-view. It's a chip on the shoulder typically delivered by a chip off the old Commie block. It's petulant tantrums where emotional balance is needed. It's in-your-face when let's-face-it is required.

Imagine being someone like, say, Janeane Garofolo, an appealing, fairly attractive, moderately intelligent woman who's found success in a niche from which, if her political convictions had been opposite what they are, she would have been rudely and summarily dismissed before she wangled her first audition. Could Janeane have broken in to the Hollywood scene if she had espoused conservative political views? Of course not. The modicum of talent she possesses could not possibly have been enough to overcome unacceptable politics.

Even Dennis Miller, bless his heart, would never have become the star he is today had he not arrived late at his political convictions. A conservative Dennis Miller, ca. the late 1980s, would have sunk like a stone, and we would have been deprived of one of the most incisive political humorists of our generation. Thank God for the truth of the axiom, "If you're not a liberal when you're 20, you don't have a heart; if you're not a conservative by the time you're 40, you don't have a brain."

The same must be said about many print and broadcast journalists. I don't recall that having a degree in journalism qualifies one as being an expert on economic policy or the law any more than having starred in movies or TV specials does. That's why it is so troubling to see so-called "reporters" presenting as factual stories whose every leftist-code-word-rich sentence betrays their biases.

This is not to say that there aren't what the British revere as "amateur experts" among journalists, and it's not to say that many journalists haven't earned the right to the reading public's respect. It is to say, however, that when journalism turns to printing opinion as reportage, when it resorts to labels and namecalling rather than respectful disagreement, we need to be very careful of the credence we give to journalists.

Most of us recognize the dangers inherent in taking much contemporary journalistic output too seriously. To those journalists responsible for producing such output I would only offer this caution: "Don't believe everything you write."

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