Being a terrorism expert means never having to say you're sorry. After the World Trade Center bombing, Steven Emerson of CNN's Special Assignment Unit filed an "exclusive report" (3/2/93) announcing that unnamed "law enforcement officials...suspect the bomber or bombers may be from one of the former Yugoslav republics." Three days later, after Mohammed Salameh was arrested in connection with the bombing, Emerson was writing for the Wall Street Journal op-ed page (3/5/93) as an expert on the radical Islamic fundamentalist threat. The disappearance of the Serbian menace was not explained.
'Collision of Causes'?
On March 6, the New York Times' Felicity Barringer published a report that implied abortion rights groups were overhyping the threat of violence to abortion clinics: "Like a conclave of unreconstructed Cold Warriors, they appeared intent on fighting new battles, to avoid becoming victims of their own success." Four days later, Dr. David Gunn, a Florida physician who performed abortions, was shot to death by an anti-abortion activist. At least Barringer had the excuse that she was writing before the killing, unlike the Washington Post's William Booth (3/12/93), who seemed to draw some kind of moral equivalence between Gunn and alleged killer Michael Griffin, both of whom are described as "consumed by abortion." "Abortion rights activists have seized on Gunn as a martyr," Booth wrote, "while abortion opponents condemned the killing, yet supported Griffin, donating money to his legal defense." The Post's headline: "At Abortion Clinic, a Collision of Causes."
A February 16 front-page Christian Science Monitor article by Marshall Ingwerson bluntly summed up the first week's of Clinton's term: "The agenda Clinton has pursued so far has a more left-leaning character than his campaign had forecast." There are only three sources cited in the entire article to back up this analysis: Stephen Hess, an assistant to presidents Eisenhower and Nixon; Jeffrey Bell, described as "a political theorist who has supported Bush cabinet official Jack Kemp"; and William Brock, who's called a "former high-ranking Republican official." How could Clinton not seem left leaning to sources like this?
Them, Not Us
There seem to be some things that establishment media can say about other countries, but never about our own. In the March 9 New York Times, book reviewer Michiko Kakutani scolded Edward Said for his "angry, paranoid digressions about the Gulf War and America's imperial ambitions." But on the front page of the same paper, the Times' Thomas Friedman writes of Henry Kissinger's warning that aid to Russia could revive "the resurgent imperialist-minded Russia of old." Calling the world's most powerful nation "imperialist" is "paranoid," while warning against a bankrupt country's imperialism is apparently statecraft.
Dissent? Don't Bet on It
Pediatrician and social activist Benjamin Spock was scheduled to be interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America on February 4 to discuss his recent trip to Cuba to deliver medical supplies. But a funny thing happened after the producers heard Spock's criticism of U.S. policy toward Cuba: The segment was canceled and never rescheduled. The official explanation was lack of time--though there was time in that broadcast to spend the last several minutes discussing weatherman Spenser Christian's upcoming appearance on the gameshow You Bet Your Life.
A common media complaint has been how much power Hillary Rodham Clinton holds in the Clinton administration. One of the most confusing examples of Hillary-bashing came in Mickey Kaus' February 15 New Republic column. Kaus attacked Ms. Clinton for being a "false feminist," but also complained that she doesn't wait for permission from her husband before speaking. Later, Kaus accused her of being too left-wing (without citing a single one of her allegedly "paleoliberal" views), then criticized her because "her views are largely unknown in any detail." Kaus did indicate a way out for Bill Clinton--a more conservative wife: "I admit I would be less upset at the prospect of spousal disagreements in the White House if Bill Clinton were married to, say, Elaine Kamarck of the Democratic Leadership Council."