Left wing think tank hatchet reporting
The Establishment Media's Weapon of ChoiceAnd you thought only the New York Times was engaged in not-for-profit journalism.
Behold the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), who on Wednesday made headlines across the nation with their report -- co-authored with the Fund for Independence in Journalism (FIJ) -- entitled "Iraq - The War Card: Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War".
The Establishment Media hailed the study's lead "finding" -- 935 false statements by Bush Administration officials in the two-year period leading up to the launch of the War. The Associated Press, CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and -- of course -- the New York Times were all exhilarated to once again climb aboard the "Bush Lied - People Died" Express.
Most of these news outlets referred to the report's author organizations simply as "non-profit groups." The New York Times described CPI as a "research group that focuses on ethics in government and public policy".
MSNBC's Dan Abrams went one step further, referring to CPI as a "non-profit, non-partisan investigative journalism group". Dan Froomkin in his WashingtonPost.com blog hailed the "non-profit group pursuing old-fashioned accountability journalism".
When we at the Media Research Center are referenced by the Legacy Press, the descriptions run like this: in 2006, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann referred to us as a "rabid right-wing spin group." On Wednesday night, however, Olbermann referred to CPI and FIJ merely as "two non-profit groups."
Why all of this analysis of the media's ideological-free descriptions of CPI and FIJ? Because they are both anything but ideology-free.
"They," in fact, are really much closer to being an "It". William Buzenberg is the Executive Director of the CPI -- he is also on the Board of Directors of FIJ. Bevis Longstreth is Chairman of the Board of Directors of FIJ -- and on the Board of Directors of CPI.
But where the lines on the graph really come together is on one Charles Lewis. From 1977 through 1988, Lewis was an investigative reporter at ABC News, after which he moved on to CBS News to serve as a producer for senior correspondent Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes.
Lewis then founded CPI in 1989, and served as its Executive Director until December of 2004. FIJ was founded in 2003 by -- Charles Lewis, while he was still serving as CPI's Executive Director.
We are sure Lewis and the media felt that two organizations working in tandem would give the report the appearance of greater intellectual heft than just one toiling alone. Which would be true, were the entities in question not joined at the hip.
This bit of disingenuousness on the part of Lewis and his twin spinners is only the beginning of what you were not told by the media.
Recall if you will the myriad nondescript adjectives used to describe CPI and FIJ in print and by the Talking Heads on television. But if you look at the donor page and see who kicks in for this "non-partisan" pursuit of "old-fashioned accountability journalism", it is difficult to reach their nondescript conclusion.
A prominent contributor to CPI is a foundation you may not know -- the Open Society Institute. Its founder, and funder, you most certainly do know -- left-wing mega-mogul George Soros, the godfather of a great many liberal institutions, most notably Media Matters for America and MoveOn.org. Soros may be most famous for spending roughly $40 million in his attempt to get Senator John Kerry elected President in 2004.
Speaking of Kerry, another CPI donor is the Heinz Endowments, a philanthropy run by Teresa Heinz Kerry, the formerly-prospective First Lady. Also in the money mix is the Streisand Foundation, run by the fabulously liberal Barbra Streisand.
In fact, their Supporters Page is a veritable Socialist, Anti-Bush, Anti-War What's What and Who's Who.
Now that we have established the bias of the organization(s), and the media reporting their (it's) efforts, let us look at what this bias produced.
President Bush said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq immediately prior to our invading Mesopotamia. Saddam Hussein indeed at one point had them -- we know this because he had used them, twice, on the Iranians and the Kurds. His every move right up to the moment we went in was calculated to foster the appearance that he had them still, lest his neighbors think him weak and vulnerable.
But in we went, and we found nothing. We had the wrong information. This is not a lie -- this is an error of fact.
But the media has never made this distinction. On Wednesday night, MSNBC's Olbermann bannered "935 LIES" on screen atop a picture of Bush, Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, with "BUSH LIES BY THE NUMBERS: IRAQ UNTRUTHS TALLIED UP" beneath. To which he added his own drivel:
"So much for the theory of the administration's countless lies about Iraq: Two non-profit groups have done the algebra and show their math: 935 between 2001 and 2003, 935 false statements to the American people about the threat from Iraq."
According to the CPI-FIJ study itself, at least 532 of the "false statements" cited -- more than half the grand total -- had to do with assertions that Iraq indeed had these weapons.
So let us trip down memory lane and revisit some other "false statements" on the subject made at the very same time as those made by the Bush Administration, by non-Bush Administration individuals.
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
-- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002.
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction. "[W]ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he has continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real ..."
-- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003.
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."-- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002."We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
-- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002.
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
-- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002.
Could it be that the media has a double standard in place and in play here? It seems neither they nor their non-profit sources are non-partisan these days.