For relatives of victims, activism and altered views
That was the title of yesterday's USA TODAY front page story. The story contains interviews with several family members of 9/11 victims, and their opinions on President Bush as he leaves office.
Wait for it...they're by and large unhappy with 43's performance as POTUS and CinC
But, there's one major 9/11 family member that USA TODAY didn't interview: Debra Burlingame. I wonder why...
That omission is evidence of media bias against President Bush.
The article profiles the following 9/11 family members, some of whom became activists that pushed for the 9/11 commission and helped organize support activities for family members of those lost that day.
The majority of the opinions the article carries about President Bush are negative. Several family members felt that the Bush administration didn't do enough to support the 9/11 commission. Others feel it was a mistake to go into Iraq.
Some opinions were especially harsh. Brian Doyle's wife tore up a condolence letter that President Bush sent them for the loss of their son in the WTC. Doyle is unhappy that Bin Laden "is still hiding in the mountains", and he claims that Bush "didn't keep" his promise to go after the people that caused 9/11. (Neither Doyle nor USA TODAY make the connection that Bin Laden is hiding in remote Pakistani mountains BECAUSE we've come after him, but...)
The headliner of the anti-Bush family members, though, is Kristin Breitweiser. We all know her as the most prominent of the Jersey Girls. Not surprisingly, she really unloads on Bush in the article.
As for defenders of President Bush, there are two. Lee Ielpi said that, in his opinion, the president "did the best he could, under the circumstances." Lynn Faulker is the daughter of Ashley Faulkner. A widely-distributed photograph shows President Bush hugging Ashley in consolement, one he learned that her mother died on 9/11. "The greatest legacy that George Bush will leave with, and will probably serve him fairly well in ... history, is that he and all of the administration and all of the support people have kept us safe for the last 7 1/2 years," Faulkner said.
Now, here's where the USA TODAY bias really kicks in.
First, the writeup for Faulkner prominently mention disagreements that he has with President Bush. His writeup closes with Faulkner's expressing his strong dissatisfaction with 43's policies on immigration and the bailout. The result: an interview that presents a mixed review of the president.
In contrast, the interviews of Kristen Breitweiser, Mary Fetcher, Cathie Ong-Herrera, Bill Doyle and Donn Marshall read from top-to-bottom as strong, sometimes vehement, criticisms of Bush. Only one interview---Lee Ielpi's---is favorable from top-to-bottom of Bush. (It should be noted that Ielpi's picture and pro-Bush quote above were on the paper's front page).
By my non-Ivy-League math, that's five critical reviews of President Bush, one positive, and one mixed.
Is USA TODAY telling us that they couldn't find a 9/11 family member whose pro-Bush feelings were as strong as the anti-Bush feelings of the five people I've listed above? I can think of one person, who's just as prominent as Kristen Breitweiser: Debra Burlingame.
I suspect that USA TODAY wanted a mostly anti-Bush piece. Burlingame's opinions would most likely not have fit with the article's predetermined thesis. ("Bush Blew It.") So, why muddy the waters by trying to achieve balance?
Sorry, USA TODAY, but no cigar. I will concede---you did put the ONE interviewee with an unfettered pro-Bush view on the front page. And, Breitweiser's strident anti-Bushism wasn't apparent to the reader until he/she turned to page 2.
If you think that's all it takes to eliminate bias, USA TODAY, think again. 5 to 1 to 1 equals anti Bush bias, IMO. Or laziness.
Although, I must admit---most people who took the time to open the paper and read page 2 are probably well-enough informed already to realize that your story was deliberately slanted.
So, MSM, if you want an example of what we conservatives think equates to bias on your part, check out USA TODAY's front page from Wednesday, January 14th.