NYPost- Excerpts from a speech given last week to the nonprofit watchdog group Accuracy in Media by Pat Caddell, a pollster who worked for Democratic campaigns from Jimmy Carter to Joe Biden.
I think we’re at the most dangerous time in our political history in terms of the balance of power in the role that the media plays in whether or not we maintain a free democracy or not.
You know, when I first started in politics — it had been for a long time, and for many years — everyone on both sides, Democrats and Republicans, despised the press commonly, because they were SOBs to everybody, which is exactly what they should be. They were unrelenting. Whatever the biases were, they were essentially — they were equal-opportunity people.
That changed in 1980. There’s a lot of reasons for it. It began to change in the ’80s. It changed — an important point in the Michael Dukakis election, when the press literally was trying to get Dukakis elected by ignoring what was happening in Massachusetts, with a candidate who was running on the platform of “He will do for America what he did for Massachusetts” — and they were on the verge of bankruptcy.
Also, the change from evening news emphasis to morning news by the networks is another factor that’s been pointed out to me, and, most recently, what I call the nepotism that exists, where people get jobs — they’re married to people who are in the administration, or in politics, whatever.
But the overwhelming bias has become very real and very dangerous. We have a First Amendment for one reason. We have a First Amendment not because the Founding Fathers liked the press — they hated the press — but they believed, as Thomas Jefferson said, that in order to have a free country, in order to be a free people, we needed a free press.
There was an implicit bargain in the First Amendment . . . that, somehow, the press would protect the people from the government and the power by telling — somehow allowing — people to have the truth.
That is being abrogated as we speak, and has been for some time.
Gallup released their latest poll on how much you trust when it comes to reporting the news accurately, fairly, and fully, and it’s the highest in history. For the first time, 60% of the people said they had “Not very much” or “None at all.” Of course there was a partisan break: There were 40% who believed it did, Democrats, 58% believed that it was fair and accurate, Republicans were 26%, Independents were 31%.
This contempt for the media, or this belief — and there are many other polls that show it — but I want to just use a few examples, because I am I think we crossed the line the last few weeks that are terrifying:
* It’s appalling that Valerie Jarrett had a Secret Service detail — a senior aide with a full Secret Service detail, including on vacation, and nobody in the press had asked why. That has become more poignant, as I said, last week, when we discovered that we had an American ambassador, on the anniversary of 9/11, who was without adequate security — while she still has a Secret Service detail assigned to her full-time, at a massive cost, and no one in the media has gone to ask why.
* The question of David Plouffe. Plouffe, who is the White House’s senior advisor . . . an Iranian front group in Nigeria gave him $100,000 to give two speeches in Nigeria. Now, let me tell you: There’s no stranger gives you $100,000 and doesn’t expect something in return, unless you live in a world that I don’t. No one has raised this in the mainstream media. He was on with George Stephanopoulos, on ABC, a couple of weeks ago, and they were going through all these questions. No one asked him whatsoever about that.
* Then there’s of course National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, who I know very well from years back, who I would cause a little bit of a stir a few months ago when I said he was the “leaker-in-chief.” They could have called Tom Donilon and other people down to the Congress, put them under oath, and asked them if they had leaked. Instead you have Eric Holder, who runs the most political Justice Department since John Mitchell, and he . . . gave two people to do a study on the leaks, sometime in the next century will come out, and one of them is a, was a contributor to Barack Obama when he was a state senator. That’s a really unbiased source! And the press, of course, won’t look into this. It will not ask the question.
I want to talk about this Libyan thing, because we crossed some lines here. It’s not about politics. First of all we’ve had nine day of lies over what happened, because they can’t dare say it’s a terrorist attack, and the press won’t push this. If a President of either party — I don’t care whether it was Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or George Bush or Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush — had a terrorist incident, and got on an airplane after saying something, and flown off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas, they would have been crucified! But nothing was said at all, and nothing will be said.
It is one thing to bias the news, or have a biased view. It is another thing to specifically decide that you will not tell the American people information they have a right to know.
The press’s job is to stand in the ramparts and protect the liberty and freedom of all of us from a government and from organized governmental power.
When they desert those ramparts and go to serve — to decide that they will now become an active participants — when they decide that their job is not simply to tell you who you may vote for, and who you may not, but, worse — and this is the danger of the last two weeks — what truth that you may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people.