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Update: Rather Hypocritical

The ConWeb's double standard on news anchors. Plus: UPI's right-wing tilt, and more post-mortem on Jesse Dirkhising.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/9/2001

As could be expected, the ConWeb pounced on the revelation that CBS anchorman Dan Rather spoke at a Democratic fund-raiser in Texas hosted by his daughter.

One of the lead pouncers, of course, is the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell. "Sounding an awful like Al Gore tumbling out of a Buddhist temple, Rather claimed he hadn't realized beforehand that the event was a fundraiser," Bozell tut-tuts in his April 5 column.

NewsMax's Neil Boortz, in his April 5 column, joins in by helpfully advising Rather: "One needs only to look at your storied career to see that you're a bedwetting liberal."

(Boortz makes a mistake in his column, saying Rather "stopped short of calling his appearance a mistake." He didn't bother to read NewsMax's own story on the incident, in which Rather is quoted as saying, "No one believes more strongly in CBS News standards than I do, and I have let those standards down. ... It was a serious mistake, which I acknowledge.")

But -- as could be expected -- neither Bozell nor Boortz have a thing to say about a similar transgression on the conservative side.

Fox News Channel anchor Tony Snow wrote columns for a Republican-operated web site and gave an address from the podium of the Republican National Convention. Heck, even NewsMax reported on it. (They didn't exactly disapprove, mind you, but it's more than Bozell's MRC has done.)

"An anchor who cares one iota about the appearance of impartiality ... couldn't do much worse for his image than this," Bozell writes. This, apparently, does not apply to Snow -- perhaps because nobody considers Fox News impartial?

Then again, Bozell has a history of turning a blind eye to actions by conservatives that he denounced when liberals did it. One recent example: While jumping all over late-night host Craig Kilborn for his Bush "snipers wanted" "joke," not a peep was heard from the MRC or about writer John Derbyshire's "joke" suggesting that the entire Clinton family should be killed.

* * *

New evidence has surfaced of UPI's tilt to the right under its new owners, and NewsMax isn't even involved.

It was called an "analysis," but the April 1 article by Michael Kirkland, who according to his byline is UPI's legal affairs correspondent, is little more than a whitewash of the involvement of Theodore Olson's involvement in the "Arkansas Project," the Richard Mellon Scaife-funded operation of the American Spectator magazine to dig up dirt on the Clintons. The article seemed impeccably timed to appear just before Olson's confirmation hearing for his appointment as solicitor general.

Not only does Kirkland's article try to clear Olson, it tries to deny there even was an "Arkansas Project." According to R. Emmett Tyrell, the Spectator's founder and editor, "... in essence, what is called the 'Arkansas Project' was a jocose misnomer. It didn't exist, but the stories that we reported were so good and so solid that we applied for more money from the foundation for ongoing investigations." He also denies even knowing Olson before 1995.

The problem? There was indeed an "Arkansas Project," and Olson did play some role in it. Joe Conason, responding to the UPI article in Salon, reports that the Spectator's own articles describe the project in some detail.

Olson, Conason says, attended a meeting in November 1993 with two conservative activists that he says "who would soon become the Spectator's main contractors for the Arkansas Project," and a February 1994 Specator attack on Clinton was co-written by Olson, meaning that Tyrell is apparently lying about his relationship with Olson. Conason also notes that this is the first denial of the Arkansas Project since he helped break the accusations three years ago.

There is a NewsMax connection worth mentioning, though. NewsMax provided an off-site link to a straightforward Associated Press story on Olson's confirmation hearing. The headline NewsMax put on the link? "Democrats Smear Theodore Olson." They do protect their own.

* * *

We were wrong. Jesse Dirkhising hasn't outlived his usefulness to conservatives.

The sentencing of Joshua Brown, one of two gay men accused in Dirkhising's death, brought in a few more complaints of liberal media bias.

Accuracy in Media's Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid reveal the real reason they want the Dirkhising story publicized: "The Dirkhising case shows that sadism and child abuse is an important part of the gay lifestyle. That is the dirty secret homosexuals refuse to publicize."

Over at the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell has his own reasons. He tries to claim he doesn't want to "match vicious canard for vicious canard" (odd for a guy who's quite fond of vicious canards), but the whole tone of his March 29 article is of being pissed off because the religious right was made to look bad during the Shepard coverage, and his apparent, if not explicitly stated, goal is to avenge that.

And Tim Graham, late of the MRC, writes at National Review Online that the Dirkhising story apparently deserved national coverage for sheer luridness alone. (Read Tim Graham's letter to ConWebWatch here.)

What's missing from all of these folks? Any explanation of why Jesse Dirkhising equals Matthew Shepard. The only connection between them is the homosexual angle, and that in and of itself has not been demonstrated to be compelling enough to warrant national coverage.

Also, we add to the list one last story on Brown's trial, which the ConWeb mostly ignored: did a article on Brown's sentencing, bring its grand total output on the trial to two stories. (4/30/2001 Update: NewsMax posted an article under its own byline March 23 on Brown's conviction.)

(And, as long as we're updating, ABC News ran a summary of the case on on its April 10 "World News Tonight." A web version has been posted, which lacks ABC's defense for not covering the story that is contained in the video of the original broadcast linked to on the page.)

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