My MRC colleague Brad Wilmouth discovered that, on the August 30 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace seemed to pick up on a recent Times Watch item pointing out the blatant double standard between the Times' obituary for conservative Republican former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina and that of liberal Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.
Wallace read from the first paragraph from each obituary, with the Kennedy version tagging the liberal Senator as "a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew acclaim and tragedy in near equal measure, and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate."
By contrast, Wilmouth noticed, the Helms obit omitted the late senator's legislative fight against communist tyranny, and instead portrayed his Senate career in a negative light, referring to him as the "Senator with the courtly manner and mossy drawl, who turned his hard-edged conservatism against civil rights, gay rights, foreign aid and modern art."
Below, courtesy of Wilmouth, is a transcript of the relevant portion of the August 30 Fox News Sunday:
CHRIS WALLACE: I also want to talk about the media coverage of Ted Kennedy since his death this week - not only the amount of it, which was extraordinary, but also the tone of it. And I want to put up the first paragraph of the New York Times story on Ted Kennedy's death. This was the first paragraph this week. "Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew acclaim and tragedy in near equal measure, and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night."
Now, here's the first paragraph of the Times story on the passing of Jesse Helms last year. "Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator with the courtly manner and mossy drawl, who turned his hard-edged conservatism against civil rights, gay rights, foreign aid and modern art, died early Friday."
Bill Sammon, I'm sure some people will be offended that I'm even making the comparison between these two men, but that is a striking difference.
BILL SAMMON: It is, and there's two ways to rectify that obvious double standard. One would have been for the New York Times to find something nice to say about Jesse Helms substantively other than his mossy drawl. The other, if you're going to go the - and I think that's the preferable way to do it, because you want to - when someone dies, you want to find something nice to say. The other way, if they wanted to be fair, would - they would have had to put something in the Ted Kennedy lead about Chappaquiddick, about his demagoguery of Robert Bork being, you know,lunch counter America and back alley abortions and all that kind of thing. But they didn't. So either way you do it, it's unfair, and that was a striking example.