By Arthur Alpert
Last time out, I copped to my masochism in reading the Albuquerque Journal closely for five years, shared my initial shock and eventual acceptance of the fact that management deliberately and routinely substitutes political decisions for what are, at respectable newspapers, news decisions, and wrote:
“I can no longer extend the benefit of the doubt to Journal editors. Yes, I keep an eye out for the innocent mistake, one wants to forgive, but my operative question as I unfurl the paper at breakfast is, how low will they go today?
“Which brings us to Hillary Clinton and Benghazi and, lately, her emails.”
Sorry for the cliffhanger, but today, finally, we’ll look at the daily’s treatment of those stories. After this brief digression on partisanship, that is.
Because we’re dealing with Journal coverage of a partisan story, you could take my adverse criticism of it as evidence of my partisanship. Please don’t. Partisan? I don’t even accept the horizontal paradigm that places Democrats and Republicans in mortal combat. From my hierarchical perspective, the parties seem to have lots in common, including subservience to Corporate America.
My job here, in any case, is to advance good journalism and its core value, fairness, and make a fuss when they’re missing.
OK, let’s look at how the Journal has covered Benghazi, Hillary and her private email server.
You know the background. After the death of four American diplomats in Benghazi, seven Republican-led House committees investigated. The current inquiry led by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R., SC, is number eight. (Two bipartisan Senate committees did likewise.)
For a probe-by-probe recap, however, please read Clayton Youngman’s excellent work for politifact.com under the rubric “Clinton: 7 Benghazi probes so far” dated Oct. 12, 2015.
You certainly are aware, too, that when John Boehner said he doesn’t want to be Speaker anymore, his second-in-command, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, (R., Ca.) said he’d like the job. But in a friendly interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity Sept. 29, McCarthy boasted:
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee, what are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping, why? Because she’s untrustable [sic]. But no one would have known any of that had happened.”
Furor. Outrage. Dismay. Gnashing of teeth. To gauge the Right’s unhappiness, read conservative Kathleen Parker’s Oct. 2 column in the Washington Post, headlined “The New McCarthyism is dead on arrival”. The Journal chose not to reprint it.
Journal columnist Charles Krauthammer also was very upset on TV (Fox) and in a column the Journal published Saturday, Oct. 17, where he called McCarthy’s frankness the “gaffe of the decade.”
This widespread anguish was not because Rep. McCarthy speaks a poor approximation of English. Nor was it because he lied; there’s almost 100 percent agreement he spoke truth. His mistake was saying out loud what anybody with s scintilla of skepticism understood – this Benghazi committee’s purpose was to cut candidate Clinton down to size.
What a fantastic political story! Naturally, it blew up in print and broadcast and digital mediums, wherever juicy political gossip is savored.
Except in the Albuquerque Journal. What I’m about to write is hard to believe but true. Our local daily didn’t mention McCarthy’s truth telling for 12 days! Not a word, even as it kept tabs on the House GOP’s effort to get as new Speaker as conservatives and Tea party extremists feuded.
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