MONDAY’S LETTERS: Kristol’s Credibility, Free Press?

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By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, a reader wonders why people still listen to pundit Bill Kristol, and another thinks that the media is no longer “free.”

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Kristol and the Media

After reading your preview of Bill Kristol’s TIME article predicting a Republican win in the 08 elections, I honestly felt sick to my stomach. Why in God’s name is this man or any of his friends still given valuable space in print and on television? Why do media outlets continue to give people like Bill Kristol, Ann Coulter, and Tom Friedman the time of day?

Bill Kristol has made countless untrue, and in many cases, idiotic comments about political affairs, always saying whatever is necessary to support neoconservative policies. He claimed before the war that there was little evidence that Sunni and Shia Muslims don’t get along, that we will be respected around the world because of our invasion of Iraq, and he made countless other incorrect predictions about Saddam’s possession of WMD’s. We can also now fill a book with examples of how Ann Coulter is nothing more than a vitriolic, childish racist who cares more about getting attention and promoting hate than about providing anything useful to any discussion. Then we have well-respected people like NY Times writer Thomas Friedman, who is now infamous for claiming that another 6 months is needed to really gauge whether our Iraq fiasco will work. As E&P pointed out, he of course made this claim over and over again for 4 years, showing a complete lack of credibility on evaluating foreign policy. Yet these same people are the ones still writing and making headlines and spewing out more factually incorrect, biased nonsense day after day.

The biggest joke in the media world is the notion that mainstream newspapers, magazines, and TV shows try to educate and inform the public. If these news outlets actually cared about providing their readers with the truth, they would make at least some effort to track the quality of their writers, their guests, and the tendency of their readers to get the correct information from their product. Despite their ability to do so, no such regular tracking system exists. The only measurements that matter to these organizations are readership and viewers (i.e. profits), making them no different than sensationalist tabloids. It’s about time the public starts keeping stats on so called authority-figures and pundits, and then uses this info to demand that media outlets give time and space to those who have proven their worth.

The way things are now, you can be wrong 100 times, shout racist and homophobic remarks, or show a lack of even the most basic knowledge of another country, and still US media outlets will seek your input and cite you as an expert source on domestic and foreign policies. Is anybody really surprised that we can be so easily lured into a war? My God, when you look at who our shameful fourth estate is making us listen to, it’s not really a shock that our citizens are so ignorant about history and current affairs? What in the world does it take for someone in the US to lose their credibility these days?

Ian Schachner
Ithaca, N.Y.

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Media No Longer Free?

Let’s face it Mr. Outing, there is no longer a free press. The media is owned and controlled by big corporations and right-wing billionaires. Only a fool would believe what they read in the press.

The reporter turns his story in to the city editor; if it is the least bit controversial, he turns it over to the managing editor; he, in turn, contacts some right wing bigot like Rupert Murdoch and he decides what he wants us sheep to read. Democracy?

Sheridan Peterson

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Media Damned If It Does, Damned If It Doesn’t

While I share [Greg Mitchell’s] views on Iraq, I’m guessing you’re going to get a lot of hate mail over this column. I’m shocked every time I read the negative reactions to anyone suggesting there weren’t WMDs, or that Saddam was not involved in 9/11. Or the people who believe, truly believe, that we’re in Iraq to fight the terrorists so that we don’t have to fight them here.

I wish I had had a forum like yours since 9/11 to voice my opinions, but as a trade magazine editor, there is little comfort for taking on non-related political issues. After 9/11, I’m sure most of my co-workers and friends merely thought me deranged when I got angry about the invasion and the reasons for it. My predictions then have come true and my co-workers and friends, for the most part, now understand that I wasn’t really a raving lunatic. Even today, however, I have to try not to get in a discussion about Iraq, because of the anger and frustration it brings (and the words spewing forth as like now).

The biggest difficulty I have, however, is understanding how there could still be people in this country who believe the lies, and who hold the media responsible for not being more positive with Iraqi coverage. So the media is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t — based on Moyer’s report. The media was too soft then and now it’s being accused of being too negative. Moyer’s report, by the way, was a little soft. I hope he comes back with something a little stronger. Maybe he could ask some pointed questions about why bin Laden is still at large.

I lived through combat in Vietnam and came back politicized, but I really thought the country had learned a lesson. Just shows how easy is it to lead the lemmings.

Ken Anderberg
Editor, Communications News
Nokomis, Fla.

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