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Beware the "Memogate"

By Frank Salvato
web posted September 20, 2004

This may come as a shock to those of you who know me but I have to admit, I half agree with the liberal talking heads on the issue of "memogate." Ever since Dan Rather and CBS News came forward with their less than substantiated memos about President Bush's Air National Guard service we have been inundated with information about fonts and typewriters, word processing programs and superscript. But I caution all of you good people out there who are watching this political battle from the sidelines, beware the "memogate."

The issue of bias in the media has been discussed, studied and decided. Of course there are those who don't believe the results. There is a gentleman from Alabama who repeatedly writes me to challenge the results of the Pew study on bias in the media that concluded the majority of journalists – if we can call them that anymore – in this country lean decidedly to the liberal side of life. He keeps challenging me to read between the lines. That's what liberals do when evidence stands so obviously in their faces, they conclude that the facts are not what they are but rather what is "between the lines." They do it with the Constitution on issues like the alleged "separation of church and state," they do it with polls and they do it with reports. It's never what the words actually say it's what the words mean when read "between the lines." Remember, we have to define the meaning of the word "is" for these people.

Dan RatherThe fact that Dan Rather presented a story based on questionable evidence is less an indictment of the mainstream media as a whole – although it's quite the indictment – than it is a declaration of his political agenda. Where a once proud journalist used to go to great lengths to vet a story so he could present the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, we now see a man so blindly filled with animosity toward the political dynasty of a particular family that he would abandon his better judgment, his professional journalistic ethics, in an effort to break a story that would benefit his political candidate of choice over a member of said family. It's a sad day when we see someone who once embraced journalistic integrity retire from the arena of professional ethics.

But the bigger issue here, and one that no one is reporting, is that "memogate" has completely replaced the positive issue momentum the Bush campaign had at the end of the GOP convention. Where we should be talking about making tax cuts permanent and overhauling the tax system (inequitable as it is), we are talking about IBM Selectric typewriters and listening to interviews with 80-year old secretaries who may or may not be able to attest to what her boss was thinking over 30 years ago. Where we should be talking about the opportunities the Bush campaign has proposed for the next four years, opportunities like establishing personal retirement accounts, moving forward with holding the educational community accountable for the products they produce, continuing to win the War on Terror and spreading democracy and freedom around the world, we are listening to malcontents like Terry McAuliffe theorize that it was Karl Rove who instigated the memos that CBS used in an attempt to smear President Bush.

Beware the "memogate!"

Political handlers and operatives know how amazingly important it is to "stay on message." When one is playing hardball in an arena that includes the likes of James Carville, Paul Begala, Mary Beth Cahill. Karl Rove and Mary Matalin, to mention but a few from both sides, it isn't an easy thing to do. And make no mistake, if it's hard for these political spin doctors of the highest order to keep their candidates on message imagine how hard it is to keep over 200 million people listening to "the message" when the mainstream media is busy publicly feeding on itself morning, noon and night.

Memogate is a legitimate topic and quite frankly, I think it will be the beginning of the end for the elitist mainstream media's chokehold on the validity of news stories. But we cannot get it confused with anything that has to do with the most important election we will see in our lifetime.

Go ahead and crucify Dan Rather and CBS News, Lord knows they deserve it for the liberal claptrap they have been trying to feed us for over a decade. But don't be so preoccupied that the opportunity to discuss the real issues before us slips away. That's just what the Democrats would love to see happen.

As the Big Green Head from the Wizard of Oz said, "Pay no attention the that man behind the curtain."

Stay on message.

Frank Salvato is a political media consultant and the managing editor for TheRant.us. His pieces are regularly featured in Townhall.com. He has appeared as a guest on The O'Reilly Factor and numerous radio shows. His pieces have been recognized by the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention and are periodically featured in The Washington Times as well as other national and international publications. He can be contacted at oped@therant.us.

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