It began as a ripple, then a rumble, and now it’s beginning to really roll. Who would have thought that a few simple, conservative conventional wisdom-type comments by First Lady Laura Bush about media bias would cause such a stir?
If you’ll recall, last week the First Lady told MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell that “I do know that there are a lot of good things that are happening [in Iraq] that aren’t covered. And I think that the drum beat in the country from the media … is discouraging.”
We called her out on this last week, and thought that was that. But over the weekend and through this week, something odd began happening — conservatives started to backtrack on their traditional complaints that the media is purposefully making things sound worse in Iraq than they really are. But before you get too excited, it’s important to note that in several instances, there’s still quite a bit of media bashing going on, though you might miss it the first time around.
On Meet the Press on Sunday, the New York Times’ David Brooks shot back that the First Lady, and presumably other conservative critics of the reporting coming out of Iraq, should “Get off of it.” In keeping with the angry performance that both he and fellow Times scribe Tom Friedman turned in on MTP, he continued, “I mean, we’ve got a hero in our newspaper, John Burns, [the Times’ Baghdad bureau chief], another hero, Dexter Filkins, a whole series of heroes over there. They’re not biased about this … Listen to what they’re reporting. They’re reporting chaos … So the idea that this is some media concoction, you — I said that a year ago or two years ago. But at some point, face reality.”
On Tuesday’s edition of Tucker Carlson’s show on MSNBC, the Washington Times’ editorial page editor Tony Blankley — no friend to the liberal media — said that “I’ve talked with enough people who are pro-war who have been there to agree that the general perception that things are going very badly is accurate … to say that that’s no longer correct reporting — whatever the media did badly in the past, I don’t think is valid.”
And finally there’s the one that’s been getting all the attention, as the National Review’s Rich Lowry knocked the burgeoning meme out of the park with his latest column, entitled “When the Media’s Right”:
Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right …
The “good news” that conservatives have accused the media of not reporting has generally been pretty weak. The Iraqi elections were indeed major accomplishments. But the opening of schools and hospitals is not particularly newsworthy, at least not compared with American casualties and with sectarian attacks meant to bring Iraq down around everyone’s heads in a full-scale civil war …
Conservatives need to realize that something is not dubious just because it’s reported by the New York Times …
Well, we didn’t see that coming. But before you get too excited about a little sobriety creeping into the debate, don’t overlook that Lowry also subtly blames the media for the president’s mishandling of the war.
He writes that “Partly because he felt it necessary to counteract the pessimism of the media, President Bush accentuated the positive for far too long. Bush allowed himself to be cornered by his media critics. They wanted him to admit mistakes, so for the longest time, he would admit none. They wanted him to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, so for too long he kept him on. They wanted him to abandon ‘stay the course,’ so he stuck to it. In so doing, he eroded his own credibility and delayed making the major strategic readjustment he needed to try to check the downward slide in Iraq.”
So you see, because the media was tough on him, the president was forced to act irresponsibly, thereby wasting lives, money and national prestige on a project that was obviously failing. The liberal media strikes again!