Anyone who doesn't believe that journalism is often politics by other means ought to learn a little about Jerry Thacker and Sarah Pettit. How Donald Graham's little Washington Post-Newsweek empire regarded these people will give you a taste for why the media elite are described as concerned about liberalism first, and professionalism maybe later.
Jerry Thacker was named to the President's Advisory Commission on HIV and AIDS, a quiet little panel based in the Department of Health and Human Services. On January 23, the Post put this backwater on the front page. Reporter Ceci Connolly suggested Thacker was unfit for government service because of several words he had allegedly used. He called AIDS a "gay plague." He described homosexuality as a "deathstyle" and asserted that "Christ can rescue the homosexual."
Connolly didn't put these comments in context. On the Web site of his Scepter Institute, a biography of Thacker explained that in 1986, "He knew vaguely about the 'gay plague' known as AIDS, but it seemed a distant threat." But then he, his wife, and daughter contracted the disease through a tainted transfusion. The Post story did not explain that the plague quote a) did not come out of Thacker's mouth, as implied, nor that b) it was put in quotes in this biography. By that standard, Connolly could be deprived of future government work, given that she, too, used that quote.
So Thacker wasn't really "quoted" on "gay plague." What about the "deathstyle"? Connolly did explain in print how she got that one: from a Web site summary of Thacker's remarks on AIDS at his alma mater, Bob Jones University. Once again, Connolly couldn't find Thacker saying it. So how can she state as fact that Thacker used the term, instead of attributing it directly - and solely - to the university staffer trying to summarize? She can because she wants to. Being a Post reporter means never having to worry about being factually sloppy.
With a war coming up and several million other issues in government more pressing than this, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer did not check out the Post's manipulation of these remarks before the subject surfaced. But reporters in the briefing room wanted Thacker out before he got in. The questions poured out: "A member of the administration's AIDS advisory council has called AIDS 'a gay plague'... Does the President condone that kind of language?...What qualifications did Jerry Thatcher have for the job, to be on this council, and why is he still on it?"
An unprepared Fleischer scrambled to placate the reporters: "No, the President does not share that view; the President has a totally opposite view...That remark is far removed from what the president believes." Thacker's resignation letter soon landed on HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson's desk. Score one for the Post.
There's a powerful truth here. The liberal media will toss out the window, on a moment's notice, any semblance of objectivity or balance when it interferes with the gay left's agenda.
The press openly does the bidding of this lobby. In fact, they openly hire gay activists to decide what is "news" to ensure their worldview succeeds.
Take Sarah Pettit, cut down at age 36 by lymphoma. Newsweek devoted a page in its February 3 edition to an appreciation, headlined "Editor, gay activist, and happy warrior." Newsweek hired her as their arts and entertainment editor in 1999 after she spent a decade in the gay-left press, including founding and editing Out magazine.
Pettit was lauded for bringing "sophistication" to Newsweek with her gay activism. But that hasn't meant nuance or balance on news stories on homosexuality. It meant the opposite It meant toeing a rigidly pro-gay line. (The radical activists who sought to censor and then ruin Dr. Laura Schlessinger's TV talk show, for example, were described in Pettit's section as "antihate groups.")
But Pettit worked to drag the whole "news" magazine left. In his appreciation, David Gates fondly remembered her political animus: "at the morning editorial meetings, she'd be protesting any rightward deviationism in Newsweek's political coverage." In an internal memo, Whitaker declared "While she often served as the 'loyal opposition' in challenging much of what was written in Newsweek, she had a deep commitment to the institution....we'll miss the intellectual honesty and moral passion that Sarah brought to so many discussions around the editors 'table.'" "Loyal opposition"? Apparently, the political spectrum at Newsweek starts at Eleanor Clift and then moves left from there.
"Moral passion"? No conservative would ever be given that accolade in Newsweek. The "culture wars" are raging, and the national media are anything but a dispassionate gaggle of observers. They clearly see themselves as an army of "moral passion" firing bullets and missiles from the left. One wishes they had the courage to admit it.