MoveOn.org, The New York Post and Media’s Double Standard

As MoveOn.org endures a media lynching in response to two ad contest entries that featured comparisons of President Bush to Adolph Hitler, there is as yet little outcry against a New York Post column by Ralph Peters comparing Howard Dean supporters to Hitler’s Brownshirts and Dean himself to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

2003.01.08

Witness a media double-standard in action:

Compare mainstream media responses to a January 5 Ralph Peters’ New York Post column — likening Howard Dean to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels and Dean followers to Nazi Brownshirts and the Gestapo — against the responses to MoveOn.org’s “Bush in 30 Seconds” ad campaign, which featured two submissions that likened President Bush to Adolph Hitler.

While there continues to be widespread and negative media attention — orchestrated in large part by the Republican National Committee and Anti-Defamation League — in response to the two 30-second segments on MoveOn, there as yet exists no response to, or coverage of, The New York Post’s decision to publish Peters’ hate-filled invective.

In case you’ve missed it, here’s a sample:

“Howard Dean and his Deanie-weenies do all they can to restrict the free speech of others. I can predict with certainty that Dean’s Internet Gestapo will pounce on this column, twisting the facts and vilifying the writer, just as they do when anyone challenges Howard the Coward.”

“. . . These are the techniques employed by Hitler’s Brownshirts. Had Goebbels enjoyed access to the internet, he would have used the same swarm tactics as Dean’s Flannelshirts . . .”

“In Dean’s alternate reality, everything the Bush administration has done and might do is a failure, no matter the facts. The president’s even responsible for Mad Cow Disease. It’s Goebbels again: Just keep repeating the lies until the lies assume the force of truth . . .”

Three days after publication of this column, the media outrage is nowhere to be found.

Here’s the evidence: As of 5:00pm EST Thursday, a Google News search returned more than 100 stories on the MoveOn.org fiasco, with the bulk of coverage casting a negative light on MoveOn.org. A similar search on Peters’ Dean-Nazi comparison returns only one story — The New York Post column itself.

Perhaps the press is busy thumbing through their encyclopedias to recall who Goebbels and his henchmen were.

There was no such hesitation in their castigation of MoveOn.org. Taking their cue from RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, who falsely accused the activist website of “sponsoring” the two ads in question, The Wall Street Journal joined Bill O’Reilly, Matt Drudge and many others to demand apologies from MoveOn. In a piece that was subsequently carried by dozens of news outlets, the Associated Press picked up on the story, quoting Gillespie’s characterization of the MoveOn project as “the worst and most vile form of political hate speech.” Gillespie, has since been welcomed by nearly every TV talk show in Washington to rail further against the group.

MoveOn.org did not “sponsor,” edit, or willingly publish the Hitler-Bush ad segments. The group has since removed the ads, which weren’t among the 15 finalists chosen as part of their political advertising competition. MoveOn.org founder Wes Boyd released a statement in which MoveOn members admitted their mistake, agreed that the two ads in question were in poor taste and regretted that they slipped through the organization’s screening process.

The New York Post, on the other hand, did commission, edit and willfully publish Peters’ diatribe, and in doing so they condoned Peters’ slanderous tactics. And yet the Murdoch-owned daily newspaper remains immune to the type of media lynching that has been lowered upon MoveOn.org.

There is still no admission of regret or error from the editors of the right-leaning daily. Worse, no other news organization, including those that so eagerly reported on the MoveOn.org misstep, have cared to cover this serious transgression at the hands of The New York Post.

Who said there is a liberal bias in mainstream media? It appears that the only bias mainstream media have is towards protecting their own.

Ask your favorite news outlet to explain the double standard. And contact the editors at The New York Post (letters@nypost.com) to demand a higher standard of journalism in 2004.

Author: Timothy Karr

News Service: MediaChannel

URL: http://www.mediachannel.org/views/dissector/affalert128.shtml