Disappearing Column Seen as Media Slant Toward Democrats

By Cheryl K. Chumley | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The disappearance of an erroneous editorial written by CBS anchor Dan Rather from his Internet site is indicative, once again, of the media's favorable slant toward Democrats, one think tank executive said.

Rather's August 17 column dealt with anonymously sourced news reports that surfaced just hours before Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore was due to accept his party's nomination at the convention in Los Angeles. Those reports revealed the plans of Independent Counsel Robert Ray to empanel a new grand jury to investigate whether President Bill Clinton's false testimony during the Paula Jones lawsuit - when he claimed no sexual relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky - merited indictment.

"You don't have to be a cynic to note that this has all the earmarks of a carefully orchestrated, politically motivated leak," Rather wrote. "Any reporter who's spent time on the police beat learns to look for motive. So you ask yourself - what group has the motive to see that such a leak would occur at this time...?

"None of which is to say that George W. Bush is behind the leak, directly or indirectly," he continued. "We certainly have no information that he is. But candidates themselves hardly ever are, as their hands must remain clean and their deniability plausible."

Rather also pointed out that the Republican Party supported Ray and two of the three judges on a panel charged with deciding whether any investigations into the Clinton affair should continue.

The column was posted for a short time - until it was learned that an Appellate Court Judge appointed by a Democratic president in 1979 was the source of the "leak."

Rather never issued an apology, either to the public or Ray, whose spokespeople reportedly criticized Rather's "unbalanced" written statements. The column itself later disappeared from Rather's Internet site.

A CBS spokesperson did not return a telephone call seeking comment on whether any apology - or clarification - was forthcoming.

Mike Warder, vice president of the Claremont Institute in California, said Rather, in order to restore credibility with the public, should at the very least, admit his error.

"The odd thing about [his written] statement is that it's utterly speculative," Warder said. "He has no basis in fact. If you take Journalism One, you know that what people in the [journalism] business are trained to do is make sure you are accurate and fair, and he had no basis of that."

Rather's published view, and then the disappearance of the erroneous column from his website, are just two more examples in the long line of instances of media bias, Warder said.

"I think there is unquestionable documentation that the media is left wing and liberal," he said, referencing a book called 'The Media Elite" that reportedly shows 90 percent of the "prestigious media elite" vote for Democrats during presidential election years.

"I know there's always this question where the media says, 'well yes, that's true, but we're reporters and we report objectively.' Well, that just flies in the face of common sense," Warder said. "If you look at this [Rather piece], that would be one instance" of media bias in favor of Democrats.

The press, Warder said, is much more forgiving of Gore gaffes than of Bush mistakes, as evidenced by the wide-spread coverage of the vulgar remark Bush made recently while referring to New York Times reporter Adam Clymer.

"The statement made about Adam Clymer - those statements are made all the time," Warder said. "I can't defend [Bush], I think he used poor judgment making the statement near an open mike. But, the way the media covers [the two presidential candidates], you find out all the stupid things about George Bush. You read Al Gore is smart, George Bush is stupid ... and that's just not so."

Bush for example, Warder said, earned degrees at both Yale and Harvard, whereas Gore graduated Harvard, but withdrew from theology and law courses at Vanderbilt without completing his advanced degree requirements.

"His grades were worse than Bush's," he added. "So he didn't get very good grades and he didn't get" his degrees from Vanderbilt.

"So I don't know where they [the media] get the idea Bush is not smart and Gore is," Warder said.

Gore 2000 campaign officials did not return a telephone call seeking their reaction to Rather's column or the overall coverage of the presidential race.