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|On the Frontline of Media Bias||
A two-hour commercial all but endorsing John Kerry for president aired nationwide this week. It was funded, in part, by you, the American taxpayer.
When the producers for Frontline, a well-respected documentary program on PBS, contacted our office to set up an interview about President Bush, I couldn't help but be leery of their intentions. At the same time, I felt an obligation to accurately represent a man whom I've come to know and admire over the last decade. But after watching the program this week, I realize that they attempted to use me to give the impression of a "balanced" report, when, in fact, it was not.
Although I do not believe that I was personally misrepresented in what I said, the program completely left out the strongest observations that I made about President Bush -- points that I purposely impressed upon Martin Smith, the producer and co-writer of the piece, as he interviewed me. Instead, they portrayed the president as the very opposite of what I said.
For example, I stressed the fact that the most significant effect of Bush's faith was not what he left out of his life, but rather what it deposited into his life. In other words, while his faith motivated him to stop his "party" lifestyle, it is far more important to understand the depth of wisdom, understanding, and conviction imparted to him by his strengthened faith. Furthermore, he willingly abandoned his own comfort in order to serve our country during times that demand principled leadership.
For two hours the program, titled "The Choice 2004," depicted the life of Senator Kerry as a string of milestones and accomplishments. Anything short of success was deemed a "setback". The Senator appears to be intelligent, thoughtful, moderate, and the perfect man to run the country at this time. Nicholas Lemann, the reporter and co-writer, cannot hide his enthusiasm at the end when he describes how Senator Kerry "will lead as President". In fact, the last 15 minutes felt to me like a paid endorsement by the Kerry campaign.
At the other end of the spectrum, the life of President Bush is portrayed as one of continuous failure -- professionally, politically, and personally. Any success, such as his stint as investor and spokesman for the Texas Rangers baseball team, comes off as a fluke or a free ride provided by his wealthy friends. The President is painted as crafty, underhanded, and somewhat maniacal. Bob Woodward, the famous newspaper reporter, suggests that the President has defied God himself by removing Saddam Hussein from power.
I went into the interview knowing that it could be biased, but I wanted to at least make sure that someone communicated the legitimacy of the President's spiritual encounter and its effect on his life. I had hoped that amidst the negative, which I knew would come, at least something positive might be found. I have not spoken with anyone else interviewed for this piece, including the First Lady herself, but I can imagine that they feel as used as I do. Never did I expect the piece to be pro-Bush, but I certainly did not expect it to be so blatantly pro-Kerry. Sadly, it typifies the media bias that has existed in this country for so many years. When mainstream news organizations are referred to as "the media wing of the Democratic Party," it rings true in cases like this. It makes conservatives and religious leaders extremely reluctant to ever talk to most of them.
The reality is that people lacking spiritual sensitivity cannot make sense of spiritual issues. As we fight a war awash in religious undertones and debate domestic issues rooted in religious beliefs, spiritual convictions drive many voters and some candidates. But many in the media cannot comprehend it. It's like a blind man trying to report on the beauty of the Grand Canyon.
As the election grows nearer, it is critical that each voter thinks for him or herself. You cannot rely on the pundits, you cannot rely on the spin masters, and you certainly cannot rely on the media. It is time to examine the issues dear to each of us and look at the records and positions of the candidates in order to make a decision that will set this country on a course to overcome the evil at our doorstep and lead us to victory.