Three cheers for my old pal Harry Evans. Over the weekend Sir Harry, the esteemed former editor of the London Times and the London Sunday Times, handed out some rare truth through the Guardian, one of Britain’s most liberal newspapers. In an oped piece, Evans, the husband of media queen Tina Brown, was surprisingly fair and balanced about the unfair and unbalanced press coverage of the campaign.
He complains that the American media “long ago elected the star graduate of Chicago’s Democratic machine, Barack Obama.” The coverage, he writes, should be troubling to anyone old-fashioned enough to care about standards in journalism. “Forget the old notions of objectivity, fairness, thoroughness, and so on . . . the coverage has been slavishly on the side of ‘the one.’”
He believes the bias is not anti-Republican so much as pro-Obama, pointing to the primaries as evidence. He writes, “The press let the Obama campaign get away with continuous insinuations below the radar that the Clintons were race-baiters. Instead of exposing that absurd defamation for what it was — a nasty smear — the media sedulously propagated it.”
Evans, a crusading journalist in his time, is best known in Britain for exposing the dangers of the drug thalidomide to the unborn. He also led the investigation that exposed Kim Philby as a Soviet spy. Like a tough-minded editor, he enumerates the many stories the press underreported, or didn’t report at all — including Obama’s relationships with Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko. He also notes there has been no full investigation of Obama’s pledge to get rid of the secret ballot in union affairs. He complains, “After years of inveighing against ‘money in politics,’ they’ve tolerated his breach of the pledge to restrict himself to public financing as McCain has done (to his cost). Now the LA Times refuses to release a possibly compromising video, which shows Obama praising Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi at a 2003 banquet, saying its promises to its source prevent it from doing so.”
All this is old news now, but it is interesting to have pointed out by an astute outside observer how little the mainstream media has investigated Obama. And how often they have concluded that unfavorable reports were either racist or the manipulations of right-wing extremists.
Evans notes that the British press also has “political distortions.” But in Britain, newspapers’ party loyalties are well-known and tend to balance out. The American press, he concludes, while regarding itself “superior and detached,” does not even try to achieve the same balance, at least not this time around. He says he only hopes that “the consequences of electing ‘the one’ will be as wondrous as the press has led the voters to believe.”
I think it is fairly gutsy for Evans, whom. I assume may be voting for Obama and certainly will be partying with Obama supporters on Election Night, to give this analysis and to a pro-Obama newspaper. His wife’s website has posted several enthusiastic pieces about Obama’s impending success and even has one up from The Guardian entitlted “The Fall of the House of Reagan.” Evans’s piece is there, too, but it takes considerable effort to find her husband’s honest criticism.
— Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness — and Liberalism — to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.