Bush and the Media

What an irresistible invitation, to tell the editor of a respected news magazine what the media have done to change my past high regard for the media to something only slightly above contempt ["Journalism Critics Wanted" August 18-25].

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What an irresistible invitation, to tell the editor of a respected news magazine what the media have done to change my past high regard for the media to something only slightly above contempt ["Journalism Critics Wanted" August 18-25].

You people combined have let the voting public down, you have betrayed your duty and our trust. You have let the current administration off the hook on almost every issue until their points went down without your help. You let the Republican running for office of president off the hook and stay satisfied with his talking points just as you have done with Bush. You never questioned or protested, swallowed whatever they told you, allowed yourselves to be manipulated, and now worry if you were fair to the president. I do not think the president deserves "fair" unless we, the public, get the truth. But truth takes courage, and perseverance, attributes curiously lacking in all the print media for many years. As the democracy as we once knew it fades away, it seems that nobody is looking or should I say, watching.

Lila Lang
Chicago Thank you for the invitation to write. Mr. Bush faced two terrible events in his presidency- the first being the engagement of the war and the second being the mortgage crisis. In terms of the war, he has remained stoic, and his unwavering bravery in the face of its ups and downs will serve him well in history. My brother-in-law serving in Iraq just sent me a picture of himself dancing with Iraqi civilians at a celebration of the U.S. military's success. Why is this not seen by the public through the press? We are winning the war, and Bush deserves credit for his fortitude. The mortgage crisis, while still unfolding, forced Bush into another choice—cheap dollars (equaling inflation and a surge in gas prices) or a massive collapse in the mortgage market. He chose the former, and while we may face the short term issues of cheap dollars, millions of Americans will keep their homes. We need to take a sober look at our ancestors as a reminder that life is not really lived in a microcosm at the speed of a blackberry, Google-search or IPod shuffle. The gravity and importance of W's presidency will always be debated, but he never has been given a fair shake by the press corps.

Carl Friedrich
Rye , N.Y. It takes a big person to go back and right a wrong, but in this case I believe that common sense is being overlooked. At the time of the troop surge, clerics in Iraq were telling their followers to put down arms. I am not a veteran, nor do I have a military background, but it seems to me that a situation improving would occur first if one side decided to stop fighting, and not because one group sent more people to fight. I am not saying that the troop surge is not improving the situation, but to give it full credit is inaccurate. I would chalk it up to good timing.

Manuel Cardoso
Artesia , Calif. I'm sure I represent one end of your spectrum when I state Bush 43 will eventually be recognized as one of our great presidents. It may take decades, but I truly believe history will be very kind to him. I see most journalism these days as speed of product to market coupled with enticement when possible. Regretfully, the news resources I use are mostly to have a feeling of what the masses are probably thinking. I don't believe a majority of Americans feel the President has done a poor job leading this country.

Bob Wright
Via E-mail I am certain more people in the United States would disagree with your comment about Bush than agree. How can we be better off for the billions spent (and unpaid for) plus the thousands of young lives lost, not to mention the larger death toll on the Iraqi people? Hopefully we never again enter into an ill-thought-out, preemptive war. Our country is definitely not better for it.

Carol Martin
Via E-Mail I am trilled to read your question "Were we fair to the President last Spring?" I will get right to the point. Yes, you have missed the boat when it comes to our President George Bush. Moreover, by not being fair to our President, you were also unfair to the 101 million American people who are Born Again. However, I pray and wish your were alone, but the truth be told you are not. The problem in a word is rationalization. In your article, you stated, "White House correspondent, Ken Walsh, walked readers through the immense challenges faced by the president and all the criticisms of those who questioned his judgment. Through it all Bush projected an almost eerie sense of calm." President Bush is a "Born Again" Christian. Every Born Again Christian understands the origin of his eerie sense of calm. "And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7.

Lynn Pilcher
Manhattan Beac , Calif. I read all of the national weekly and monthly news/business magazines, and I believe that U.S. News and Mort Zuckerman have overall been the fairest to the administration on a variety of issues. However, I am at a loss to remember when a member of the national media, such as U.S. News, has actually given credit where credit is due and pointed out that a President, at a moment of national crisis, made a courageous and extremely unpopular decision, in the face of enormous criticism and personal attack from virtually everywhere, which turned out to be the correct and absolutely best decision. The only similar situation that comes to mind is when President Truman fired Gen. McArthur, for just cause, thereby incurring the wrath and enmity of much of America. With the perspective of history, events tend to take on an entirely different aura. However, for you to admit today in this time that George W. Bush's unpopular decision on Iraq was the right decision is an admission of historic proportions among the national media, and I congratulate you on your literary courage.

Sanford H. Passer
Franklin , Mich. Yours is among the very few national news publications that I respect as being intellectually honest. I write as a retired journalist myself, with stints in New York, Washington and other cities, a better than average observer with a perspective of 60 years in the business. There have always been agenda-driven newspapers and magazines, many, especially in the early years of our republic, launched expressly for this purpose. But during my adult life, there has been a sea change. Agenda-driven publications and staffs have become the rule rather than the exception. Almost without exception, these journalists and publishers are in complete denial of a fact that is evident to most Americans. Are we to believe that these well-educated, sophisticated professionals are oblivious? Or is it that they just don't give a damn? The new pattern is evident even to the untutored: what constitutes a story, what's printed and what isn't, what sources, anonymous or otherwise, are selected, how they are characterized, what gaffes reveal about journalists' views, how facts are often selected to fit the narrative rather than the other way around. In my 11 years in Washington, for example, I observed (and experienced) myriad examples of leaks to friendly journalists more than glad to grind the ax of some anonymous official. All would no doubt justify their action as being in the public interest, and often it was. More, in my opinion served a political and journalistic end. I have observed more than one beer being hoisted at the National Press Club celebrating such "scoops." Furthermore, equally troubling to me as a citizen, journalists increasingly act as if they are above the law. The story trumps everything-reputations however innocent, national security-everything. The First Amendment makes the media the final arbitrator. Are these the people I want having the last say about my privacy, about national security? Now, you may be among the editors who never observed any of the things described here. You may consider me just another paranoid crank. From my perspective, I am not the one who has lost touch with reality. I too believe deeply in freedom of the press. But I also believe that if that freedom is ever lost, as you fear it might be, the fatal blow will not be delivered by any outside agency. It will be self-inflected. The threat to press freedom comes not from the sources you fear but from the profession itself.

Gene T. Kinney
Tulsa , Okla.