Friday, February 04, 2005

Bush Cheats, Liberal Media buries Story

Still sick here.

In the meantime, check out this story from FAIR. One would think that when the President cheats in a debate, it would be news.

One would be wrong.

In the weeks leading up to the November 2 election, the New York Times was abuzz with excitement. Besides the election itself, the papers reporters were hard at work on two hot investigative projects, each of which could have a major impact on the outcome of the tight presidential race.

One week before Election Day, the Times (10/25/04) ran a hard-hitting and controversial exposé of the Al-Qaqaa ammunition dump identified by U.N. inspectors before the war as containing 400 tons of special high-density explosives useful for aircraft bombings and as triggers for nuclear devices, but left unguarded and available to insurgents by U.S. forces after the invasion.

On Thursday, just three days after that first exposé, the paper was set to run a second, perhaps more explosive piece, exposing how George W. Bush had worn an electronic cueing device in his ear and probably cheated during the presidential debates.

The so-called Bulgegate story had been getting tremendous attention on the Internet. Stories about it had also run in many mainstream papers, including the New York Times (10/9/04, 10/18/04) and Washington Post (10/9/04), but most of these had been light-hearted. Indeed, the issue had even made it into the comedy circuit, including the monologues of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jon Stewart and a set of strips by cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

That the story hadn't gotten more serious treatment in the mainstream press was largely thanks to a well-organized media effort by the Bush White House and the Bush/Cheney campaign to label those who attempted to investigate the bulge as "conspiracy buffs" (Washington Post, 10/9/04). In an era of pinched budgets and an equally pinched notion of the role of the Fourth Estate, the fact that the Kerry camp was offering no comment on the matter perhaps for fear of earning a "conspiracy buff" label for the candidate himself may also have made reporters skittish. Jeffrey Klein, a founding editor of Mother Jones magazine, told Mother Jones (online edition, 10/30/04) he had called a number of contacts at leading news organizations across the country, and was told that unless the Kerry campaign raised the issue, they couldn't pursue it.

Link via Oliver Willis.