Extra! Update April 2003
The Disarmament Nightmare
Subheads over a March 4 New York Times article: “More Missiles Destroyed; Washington Is Concerned Over Possible Complications for Effort to Disarm Iraq.” Nothing like disarming to complicate disarmament. NBC Nightly News (2/27/03) was even more alarmed about the missile destruction, with Andrea Mitchell reporting: “For the U.S., it’s a nightmare scenario. If Iraq destroys the missiles, it will be much harder to get support for military action.”
“Both sides of the debate are saying God is on their side. Those who favor peace point to the Pope calling the war immoral, and those who favor the removal of an evil man, Saddam, say they’re protecting lives by that action. In this case, I think both sides are wrong. Nobody knows for sure what the absolute right thing to do is. We can only have opinions. Thus, it’s intellectually dishonest to be claiming God is on your side when only God knows for sure what the right thing to do is.”
—Bill O’Reilly, The O’Reilly Factor (3/11/03)
“I’m telling you, I’m telling you that President Bush is doing just what Jesus would have done.”
—Bill O’Reilly, The O’Reilly Factor (12/4/02)
So Why All the Radio Stations?
“If anyone said we were in the radio business, it wouldn’t be someone from our company….We’re not in the business of providing news and information. We’re not in the business of providing well-researched music. We’re simply in the business of selling our customers products.”
—Clear Channel founder and CEO Lowry Mays (Fortune, 3/3/03)
Gee, That Doesn’t Sound Right
British Member of Parliament Boris Johnson complained (in a March 22 London Spectator piece, summarized by the March 25 New York Post) that an op-ed piece he was asked to write for the New York Times defending Tony Blair and George W. Bush on Iraq was turned by the Times into (in the Post’s words) “a smarmy piece of politically correct garbage.” Johnson, the Post reported, was irate because he “couldn’t say anything ‘deprecatory’ about a black African country.” Furthermore, he said he was told by an editor that he couldn’t use the expression “gee, thanks” because “gee is an abbreviation for Jesus, [and] for a century this has been a Jewish-owned newspaper and we have to be very careful about anything that might offend Christian sensibilities.” One problem with this story: The expression “gee” has been used hundreds of times in the New York Times, including in the edition that came out the day before the Post item ran.
First Amendment Semi-Absolutist
“Now I am a man who believes in the First Amendment just about absolutely, except when it comes to promoting violence. However, there is a Sedition Act on the books, and I will read you a portion of it, if you don’t mind: ‘When at war, to willfully utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous or abusive language about the form of government of the United States, or the Constitution of the U.S., or the military or the naval force of the U.S., whoever by word or act, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 20 years or both.’ Now that was from 1918. It says ‘when we are at war.’ We are not at war. And that is why, truthfully, I believe Mr. Bush should go before Congress to ask for a vote: an act of war being declared. Then we have the Sedition Act in place. Then we can stop some of these maniacs who are encouraging our enemies, weakening our troops’ resolve and confusing the American people.”
–Michael Savage, MSNBC‘s Savage Nation (3/8/03)
“How Honest Is Too Honest?”
On the day the invasion of Iraq began (3/19/03), MSNBC.com posted an article about “discussing the issue of war with your children.” Under the heading “How Honest Is Too Honest?,” the piece advised: “It depends on the age of the child. For younger kids, you can start off by telling them, ‘There’s someone who is angry with us, and our president is making sure that we stay safe.’ Tell small children it is happening far, far away from us. . . . For school-age kids (older kids) you can mention the person who is threatening us: Tell them the name Saddam Hussein. They probably will have heard the name anyway. You can tell them that Saddam has weapons and could use them against us and hurt people, but our president was elected to make decisions to protect us and he’s met with people from all over the world and he will do everything he can to keep us safe.” It sounds like some people in the media have been using this article as a guide for how to cover the war.