Backlash on the Left

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 15, 2005; 8:15 AM

It's official: The Democrats are fed up with the press.

From the day George W. Bush won the Florida recount, resentment toward the MSM [main stream media] has been building on the left, to the point where it may well match the intensity on the right. Liberal bias? Ha! These journalists roll over for conservatives and beg to have their tummies scratched.

Nation editor Katrina van den Heuvel told me that the failure to adequately cover the Downing Street Memo "epitomizes the timidity, the cowardice of a media that has been manipulated, intimidated, bullied by an administration that has taken it to a high level." Frank Rich says the episode lays bare the problems of the "lapdog news media."

Hillary Clinton, who wasn't terribly happy with the way she and her husband were covered in the last administration, joined the press-bashers last week: "I mean, it's shocking when you see how easily they fold in the media today. They don't stand their ground. You know, if they are criticized by the White House, they just fall apart. I mean, come on, toughen up, guys. It's only our Constitution and our country at stake. Let's get some spine going here."

Rep. John Conyers has held a hearing on the media's shortcomings in covering the administration and has been on a tear about the Downing Street Memo.

"In all of my years in Congress," he writes on Huffingtonpost.com, "I have never seen a phenomenon develop and grow like the controversy over these now infamous minutes, and the related corroboration. Just over the weekend, we finally made the front page of the Washington Post. The London Times also covered the disclosure of new British Memos confirming the pre-war deal and highlighting the lack of a post-war plan. Is it any wonder the public is finally saying we never should have gotten in to begin with? I have also scheduled a hearing for this Thursday, and I am getting scores of press calls a day on this issue every day.

"Most amazingly, more than 540,000 Americans have joined with me in signing a letter to the President demanding answers and accountability."

And Nancy Pelosi spoke to the liberal blog Raw Story:

"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) lauded blogs for their role in raising the profile of the Downing Street memo, and extolled their ability to present unvarnished facts in an age where media focuses on sound bites.

"While also raising what she herself described as a 'litany' of core Democratic issues -- such as education, healthcare and the environment -- the House Democratic leader made striking comments about the mainstream media, even asserting that reporters had told her journalists couldn't tell the Democrats' story because they feared losing access.

" 'I've had reporters say to me, I have orthodontia, I have tuition, I have mortgage, I need access, I'm not writing your story,' Pelosi remarked. . . .

" 'If you depend on the print press, they will either leave you out of the story, or mischaracterize what you are saying, or you get two sentences in a twenty-five paragraph story which doesn't give weight to the argument that you have.' "


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