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.

NEW YORK, January 8, 2003 — 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
‘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 . . .’

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

Here’s the evidence: As of 5:00pm EST Wednesday, 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.

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