If Only It Was That Simple

April 29th, 2013 · No Comments · Fact Check, journalism

By Arthur Alpert

Back in the 1990s, when I co-owned and edited Prime Time, a monthly for New Mexican seniors, I regularly spoke to civic and senior organizations on “How the News Get Shaped.”

Having worked in print and broadcast news (network, local and cable) I saw how the journalism differed depending on technology, how we earned a profit and our legal status.

At one lunch, though, an elderly fellow rose with repressed anger to ask, “Why can’t they just stick to the facts?”
I was nonplussed.

No doubt I was thinking “Sir, if only it was that simple.”

The Charles Krauthammer column Journal editors published Saturday, April 27 under the rubric, “Bush legacy will help us to prevail”, awakened that memory.

Krauthammer informs us that the second President Bush kept us safe and, “He created the entire anti-terror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe.”

Krauthammer is no dolt. He didn’t perpetrate the “Bush kept us safe” inanity because he’s unintelligent. No, he did it by choosing to begin his evaluation of Bush Sept. 12, 2001.
Sept. 12, not Sept. 11.

Thus did he absolve President Bush of all responsibility for not preventing the attack on the World Trade Center. That Bush was President and ignored warnings (plural) of bin Laden’s ambitions becomes irrelevant.

The logic is impeccable if “the facts” do not include what transpired before 9/11.

I should have told the angry gentleman facts don’t inhabit a celestial plane, perfect and untouchable. We humans decide which “facts” pertain and which do not.

The remainder of the Krauthammer column maintains the high standard he sets at the outset, but I’ve no desire to argue with it.

After all, he encouraged the Bush White House to launch the war on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with results that include much death, a Shiite-led Iraq and newly empowered Iran, so he’s defending himself, too.

Which, given my facts, is a heckuva challenge. And if he doesn’t do it, who will?

No, though I certainly disagree with Krauthammer (as did George Will after the fact), my purpose here is to make another point.

Consider, please, that Krauthammer is arguably the Journal’s go-to columnist on national and international issues. They use him on domestic politics, too.

Secondly, note that he, Will, Thomas, Goldberg, Samuelson, Navarette, Victor Davis Hanson and Cepeda dominate the editorial page.

The One Percent team fields eight players against the Liberals’ four (Robinson, Pitts, Dionne, Goodman) and the numbers get worse.

The editors publish several (eight, nine?) rightist columns to each dissent. (Student alert – there’s a thesis in tracking, with cool graphs, the Journal’s antipathy toward fairness.)

And there’s no left-of-liberal opinion except for Amy Goodman, who gets to pummel President Obama.

In sum, Krauthammer is integral to the Journal’s strategy – using syndicated columnists to bolster its narrative.

Focused on how the Journal skews the news to further its editorial agenda, I’ve not written enough on the Journal’s use of syndicated columnists.

My bad. They’re essential.

I mean, without Dr. Krauthammer, how would we know that George W. Bush kept us safe?

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