In the news coverage of the Illinois Democratic primary, in which supporters of Lyndon LaRouche were nominated for lieutenant governor and secretary of state, almost all reports identified LaRouche as "right- wing" or "ultraconservative." This makes no sense at all, except as evidence of media bias.

The LaRouche supporters call for the repeal of Gramm-Rudman, claim that Ferdinand Marcos actually won the Philippine election and demand that farm foreclosures be prevented by having the government confiscate the property. They support government subsidies for nuclear power plants and seem to be saying that most bankers are involved in drug trafficking. They say they are fighting a worldwide conspiracy that includes Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman, the Jewish organization B'nai B'rith and the queen of England. Their nominee for secretary of state in Illinois has pledged to put Washington Post staffers "on trial for Nuremberg crimes."

The lead story on the front page of the latest issue of New Solidarity, the LaRouche newspaper, is an attack on Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), accusing Helms of trying to install a Nazi as the ruler of Panama. On page two, a story about the nation's leading conservative broadcaster is headlined, "Pat Robertson Peddling Snake Oil for the KGB." Page six has a cartoon showing a demonic version of Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) wielding an ax, and an article of page eight attacks Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.).

The anticonservative tilt of the LaRouche organization is not surprising. Lyndon LaRouche first became well-known when he was associated with the Students for a Democratic Society, the radical group founded by Tom Hayden and others. Under the name "Lyn Marcus" (taken from Lenin and Marx), LaRouche tried to take over the Socialist Workers Party; when he failed, he founded the U.S. Labor Party. LaRouche, who called himself "the American Lenin," was a Trotskyite -- that is, his complaint with the Soviets was that they weren't communist enough.

According to a 1974 FBI report, the LaRouche group know as the National Caucus for Labor Committees described itself as an "organization of revolutionary socialists." In a series of lectures published in 1976, LaRouche said his organization was "allied" with certain "communist forces" that are "work- ing overnight, constantly, to bring into being a new Marxist International throughout the capitalist sector."

And if the LaRouche followers are conservatives, why are almost all of the hundreds of them this year running in the primaries of the more liberal party, the Democratic Party?

LaRouche and his group are said by the media to have swung from the far left to the far right in recent years -- mainly, it seems, because of their anti-Soviet position. But, in our view, this is fully consistent with his background as a Trotskyite (that is, anti-Soviet) communist.

Despite the difficulty of pinning him somewhere on the political spectrum, the Chicago Tribune's stories on the Illinois election called the primary winners "right-wing extremists" and "ultraconservative." The Washington Post headline called them "far-right." One USA Today headline referred to LaRouche as a "rightist," and the story called him "hard right" and "ultra- conservative."

It's a pattern we've seen before: The New York Times recently listed a racist, anti-Semitic newspaper as one of the "organs of the conservative movement," and Newsweek described the newspaper's little-known publisher as one of the "apostles of conservatism." The characterizations are absurd, laughable, the stuff of which cocktail party conversation is made -- so why did The Times and Newsweek sink so low?

Why do the media associate LaRouche and other bizarre types with conservatism? Why do they lump together (as "conservatives," "ultraconservatives" or "the far-right") people who have nothing in common and whose philosophies are diametrically opposed? Why do they link libertarians like Milton Friedman, traditionalists like Pat Robertson, white supremacists like the Ku Klux Klan, anticommunist socialists like Salvadoran President Jose Napoleon Duarte, cruel authoritarians like South Africa's P. W. Botha, totalitarians like Adolf Hitler, crooks like Ferdinand Marcos, aggressive communists like the "hard-liners" in Moscow and weirdos like Lyndon LaRouche? All of them are referred to by the media as "conservatives," although in fact only Friedman and Rob

Why do the media refer to them all the same way? What could they all possibly have in common -- except that they are not liberals? Aha! That's the answer! Throughout hitory, many a primitive tribe has called itself by a name that means, simply, "human beings." In that view, the world is divided into two groups: 1) "us," and 2) everybody else.

That's how the national news media classify people. A liberal is a person who agrees with them. And a conservative? A conservative is anybody else.