Uninformed or a liar?

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on January 29, 2006

I watched "Fox News Watch" last night. The program is the Fox News Channel's media watchdog program and is unfortunately only 30 minutes long. If it were longer, I'd probably have even more ammunition proving media critic Neal Gabler, an Eric Alterman acolyte, to be at the very least hopelessly misinformed and at worse a liar.

On yesterday's show, Gabler claimed that there was no doubt that President Bush's NSA terrorist surveillance program was illegal. Let's call that ignorance. Next Gabler claimed -- as evidence of the New York Times' conservative bias -- that an article in the Times buried the fact that "every constitutional scholar" had determined the program was illegal. Gabler argued that that should've been the story's lede.

Indeed it should have. But a cursory search of the Times archives (I don't have accesss to TimesSelect and so can't access complete articles) doesn't turn up the phrase "every constitutional scholar" and in fact doesn't appear to reference "constitutional scholar" either.

But let's assume that Gabler's memory is accurate and there is such a Times news story that indeed does make such a claim.

In that case, Gabler has also indicted the Times for false and inaccurate reporting.

You see, it's pretty easy to find a constitutional scholar who believes the NSA program is probably legal. In fact, if you're looking for it, it's pretty easy, even if all you're looking for is liberals. I give to you University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein. The guy wrote a law book on constitutional law, so that must qualify him as a scholar.

Gabler is at best dishonest and at worst a fool.

If you haven't read this over at Powerline, I encourage you to take a look. It exposes the Times reporting on this issue not as a balanced and thoughtful look at the program, but as propaganada and advocacy.

Then there is the New York Times, which rarely lets a day go by without front-page Bush bashing. Today, Eric Lichtblau and Adam Liptak led the charge with an article headlined "Bush Presses On in Legal Defense for Wiretapping." The article purports to be an even-handed treatment of the debate over the legality of the NSA international surveillance program, but it conveys no hint of the strength of the administration's legal arguments, or the extent to which they are accepted within the legal community.

Is it any wonder that Gabler would get the wrong idea about the legality of the surveillance program? His source is the New York Times.


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January 2006



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