Friday, July 01, 2005

Minding the "Minders"

If you want evidence of the groupthink that is the Bush Administration, you might want to look at this report from National Public Radio about how the President of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting paid a "consultant" to monitor 4 newsprograms on NPR and PBS for bias, namely, liberal bias. Guest on the programs were deemed as either liberal or conservative based on their support or lack thereof of Bush policies. Here's a sample:

Mann labeled many reporters as "liberal," such as Robin Wright of The Washington Post. She appeared on The Diane Rehm show in June 2004. On what grounds did Mann make his assessment? He wrote: "Ms. Wright's viewpoint was that U.S. intelligence was geared to fight the Cold War and did not adapt to the new threat of terrorism."

Chuck Hagel was also judged to be a liberal. That's Nebraska's Republican Senator. Last year, Hagel earned a 100 percent voting record from two conservative organizations -- the Christian Coalition and the Eagle Forum.

But Hagel has disagreed with President Bush on some issues. And the senator acknowledged misgivings about the administration's handling of Iraq on The Tavis Smiley Show in June 2004.

"I think we are still on the edge in Iraq. It will depend on whether are able to bring the United Nations, our allies, other Arab countries into this soon enough, and if we are able to define this in a way that the Iraqi people will trust our leadership, have confidence in our leadership, trust our purpose," Hagel told Smiley. "If we do that, we'll win. If we don't, we will not win."

A journalist is deemed as a liberal because she criticizes an intelligence community built for the wrong war. Since this spy setup was in place long before Bush 43 got in, it seems a bit silly to day this person is liberal.

And Chuck Hagel is a liberal? First time I heard that. This is a man that gets perfect ratings from the Christian Coalition and Eagle Forum, who are not granola by a long shot, and just because he has some misgivings about the President's handling of the war in Iraq, he is made into Jane Fonda circa 1971.

What's even more distrubing is that this "consultant" was hardly unbiased himself:

Mann himself remains something of an enigma. NPR could not reach him for comment. His past address, telephone number and even e-mail address no longer work. Efforts to find him through past colleagues were not successful.

For years, Mann was an official at the National Journalism Center in Virginia, which has trained many aspiring journalists. He handled the job bank until last year. The center is an offshoot of the Young America's Foundation, which describes itself on its Web site as "the principal outreach organization of the Conservative Movement."

So, instead of hiring a fair-minded consultant who would cast a critical eye, the CPB chair hired a partisan hack.

What's disturbing about all this is the belief that any criticism of the President is somehow "liberal." If people can't be free to criticize the President or the Administration, then we no longer have a vigrous media, but nothing better than some state-owned media that passes for news in third rate nations.

To me, this has serious implications for the freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Shame on Ken Tomlinson.


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