In his Monday "Media Notes" column in the Style section of the Washington Post, media reporter Howard Kurtz highlights the success of anti-war/anti-Bush books by liberal reporters -- with those Kos-cuddling titles from "Fiasco" to "Hubris" to "State of Denial" -- but he doesn't use any of those ideological labels. He doesn't even use the L-word for the media outlets that have generated "enormous news coverage" for the liberal books, or the hard-left activists that think that every anti-Bush morsel that gets delayed for a book is a betrayal of the country:
With striking swiftness, a series of books about the Iraq war has exposed deep flaws in its planning and execution, made the Bush administration appear dysfunctional at times and generated enormous news coverage. All are by journalists with access to daily or weekly outlets...
The Iraq mess is a large and tempting target. And despite a huge volume of coverage over the last several years, a considerable amount of material remained beneath the surface, awaiting excavation by authors.
Some critics grumble that the journalists should have gone public with their information sooner, rather than saving it for books. But it takes time to build a case and to coax information from people who may have little interest in joining the daily political sniping.
Perhaps the best reason for Kurtz to write this up is to give yet more publicity to the Bush-bashing books being written by the Post staff, and Kurtz certainly isn't about to suggest that his colleagues are a bunch of conservative-bashing activists:
A striking number of these efforts have come from journalists at The Post, which has a lenient policy toward allowing staffers time off to write books. The Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran, in his best-selling "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," reported that the Coalition Provisional Authority had hired a number of people who had conservative credentials but lacked vital skills and experience. Former secretary of state Colin Powell gave six lengthy interviews to The Post's Karen DeYoung for her biography "Soldier."
When Kurtz compares these books of "intellectual heft" to anti-Clinton books, he doesn't call them anti-Bush books or place them on the left, although he is saying they are the opposite of the conservative books:
Once books become fodder for the media machine, the carefully constructed 300-page arguments get boiled down to a handful of scooplets and anecdotes. But it is their accumulated detail and intellectual heft that embosses the books with credibility.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, starting with a slew of anti-Clinton books (against both Bill and Hillary), many of the publishing success stories seemed to be on the right. Ann Coulter's "Slander," Bernard Goldberg's "Bias" and volumes by Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage often topped the charts.
But now, with Bush struggling in Iraq and mired in low poll numbers, the books packing the greatest political punch seem to be those charging the administration with incompetence. And while they are mostly written by working reporters and editors, not commentators, liberal readers are surely fueling the surge in sales.
Only the readers are liberal? I don't believe these books are only charging the administration with incompetence. They're charging the administration with waging a war that should not have been waged. That's about ideology, not just competence.
But it's not all pretending about how the liberal media isn't really liberal in the Media Notes column today. Kurtz reports that the Center for Investigative Reporting, a regular leftist collective of muckrakers, funded by left-wing foundations, were paid by an "objective" newspaper to go after Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell:
Kentucky's Lexington Herald-Leader yesterday launched an investigative series on Sen. Mitch McConnell pushing legislation for his affluent donors -- an effort originally paid for by a foundation that has financed several liberal groups that oppose the Republican lawmaker.
The paper's parent firm, McClatchy Co., decided last week to repay the $35,000 grant, which underwrote six months of salary and expenses for a Herald-Leader reporter on leave. The grant came from the respected Center for Investigative Reporting, which was passing on money provided by the St. Louis-based Deer Creek Foundation.
Deer Creek has funded a variety of liberal groups, including New York University law school's Brennan Center for Justice, which represented opponents of McConnell in a campaign-finance lawsuit that reached the Supreme Court.
"It's like the NRA funding a report about Sarah Brady," the gun-control advocate, says McConnell spokesman Don Stewart. "You've got to be somewhat leery about the objectivity."
McClatchy Vice President Howard Weaver says his company, which inherited the situation after buying the Herald-Leader, does not believe in such grants. "As a matter of practice, if we want some journalism done in our newsrooms, we pay for it," Weaver says. "But I've heard enough politicians explain why they gave back a campaign contribution to know it's not a perfect remedy."
Dan Noyes, acting director of the reporting center, says he paid for the series because the money went to the reporter, not the newspaper. Noyes sees no conflict because his group has an "arm's length relationship" with Deer Creek, and he says its $300,000 grant will fund campaign finance probes of both Democrats and Republicans.
What that does not explain is that socialist groups like CIR -- just like PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers -- claim to go after both Democrats and Republicans, but from the left, that both parties are ruining the country by accepting private contributions, instead of having our elections publicly financed by....taxpayers.