No Bias When You Need It?

Let me see if I have Howard Kurtz's position vis-a-vis the Trent Lott hoo-ha clear. Even though, he says, Gwen Ifill played the incriminating clip on PBS and James Carville attacked Lott on "Crossfire," somehow the news just didn't get out ["A Hundred-Candle Story and How to Blow It," Style, Dec. 16]. Why? Because the Democrats didn't provide a "hook" for reporters, says Kurtz. And because liberals don't have a lock on talk radio to rival Rush Limbaugh and the other conservative bloviaters.

And here I thought reporters were supposed to be able to recognize the important, the irrational, the racist and the honorable all on their own. Well, that day is long gone, as Kurtz has shown us over and over again. But it really takes the cake that someone like Kurtz, in the timorous paper that yours has become, should be taking liberals to task for failing to produce the reality to back up that favorite phantom of the Dittoheads, liberal bias.

-- Deb Schultz

Singling Out Israeli Settlers

Once again, with its publication of Tom Toles's offensive cartoon showing a link between Saudi "Extremism Studies" and Israeli settlements [Dec. 15], your paper demonstrates its moral relativism and blind spot as it applies to the settlements. The Israelis in those settlements do not blow up people on buses, in pizzerias, at religious assemblies, in embassies, in Marine barracks, on ships, in high-rise office buildings or in nightclubs. Followers of Saudi extremism do perpetrate that line of terrorism and include Osama bin Laden, the 9/11 attackers, the attackers of the USS Cole, the attackers of the U.S. barracks in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, the Bali terrorists, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and too many more to mention. The Israeli settlers' crime is living where Arabs and your paper don't want them to live.

Your paper would be assailed by Islamists as bigoted if Toles drew a cartoon showing the Koran with lines connecting it to each of the above-mentioned attacks, with the caption "A religion of peace and tolerance."

-- Melvin Farber

Independent Imposter

To support his claims of liberal media bias, Michael Kelly cites the work of S. Robert Lichter, president of the "independent" Center for Media and Public Affairs. Some quick Internet research reveals that Lichter's organization has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Sarah Scaife Foundation. (Gee, that name seems awfully familiar.) The Scaife Foundation has funded many other "independent" groups, including the American Enterprise Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society and Judicial Watch. I don't know which is more depressing: that groups like Lichter's can masquerade as "nonpartisan" or that Kelly is so easily snookered.

-- Pete Nelson

As American as Jazz

As a lover of jazz for the past 40 years, I greatly enjoyed Terry Teachout's Dec. 15 Arts article "Jazz 101 and Beyond," including his 30 album suggestions for novices. But why repeat the oft-heard description of jazz as "America's only indigenous art form"? What about the blues, rock-and-roll, gospel, bluegrass and perhaps many others?

-- Bob Jacobson

Reality Check

At times reading your paper I feel like I inhabit the Twilight Zone: Several weeks ago, in an explanation about currency transactions in KidsPost [Nov. 22], the reporter stated that the U.S. dollar and the French franc "don't have the same value." Lucky for us, of course, because the franc no longer exists.

Now, the "You Haven't Lived Here if You Haven't . . . " column describes the Octagon as being "tucked in among the uninspiring homes of the IMF and FDIC" [Style, Dec. 15]. As I was last in the neighborhood of 18th Street and Virginia Avenue on Dec. 11 in the pouring rain, I do not think my unfurled umbrella would have obscured the requisite massive removal and construction activities to replace the American Institute of Architects and the General Services Administration with those two buildings. I will leave discussion of the merits of the AIA building to the architects who inhabit it; but the GSA building has historical significance. When built in 1917, it was the second-largest office building in the United States after the Equitable Life building in New York City. Its E-shaped design and curtain wall with 70 percent windows was innovative in that it permitted all office areas to have natural light. And it was the first office building to have drinking fountains.

You really haven't lived here if you haven't learned the locations of major federal buildings and associations, and you're in trouble if you're reading KidsPost to find out how much your USD is worth in Euroland.

-- Anne France