What will today’s media elites regret when they grow up?

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Miss Campbell was a sweet old lady. She was among the last of a large cohort of American women.

The Miss Campbells of the mid-20th century had three things in common. They never married. They unapologetically retained the title ‘Miss’. And they taught school.

These women once constituted a sizable plurality of American school teachers. By the late 1960s, they were nearing the end of their careers and were being replaced by younger, married, fertile women and by a growing percentage of men.

So when I arrived in Miss Campbell’s Texas History class in the eighth grade, she was getting old. Her hearing was a bit impaired and her eyes were beginning to dim. She was slightly addled and she no longer had the energy she once had for dealing with high-voltage adolescence.

And thus, in a classroom filled with testosterone-laden boys, she was fair game.

Oh, how we tortured that poor woman. While no real harm was done, we played every sort of prank on her. We did things to her that we would never have attempted in our other classes because the teachers in those classes had the mustard to stand up to us. But poor Miss Campbell was nearly out of gas and we took advantage.

By the time I met Miss Campbell she was teaching school for one of two reasons. Either she did it as an answer to a calling, for which we should have been grateful. Or she did it because she needed the work, for which we should have been respectful.

I like to tell myself that my participation in the petty unkindnesses to Miss Campbell was more the product of immaturity than a lack of character. But by the time I acquired the maturity, the opportunity to apologize to Miss Campbell had long passed.

The analogy that I am about to draw is not exact. The person who has been treated badly is not an addled, diminished old spinster but is instead a capable, intelligent and highly principled man. And the maltreatment that this man suffered does not consist of inconsequential pranks. This man suffered from a dedicated effort to bring about his failure.

What I’m about to ask draws from my late recognition that Miss Campbell deserved better than she got from me. So I use her as a setup for this question:

Will the mainstream media ever be ashamed of the way they have treated George W. Bush?

I ask this question in light of the coverage Barack Obama is receiving as he prepares to take office. You read and hear things like, ‘Obama faces the very real problem of a nuclearizing Iran,’ or; ‘al-Qaeda continues to plot against the U.S.,’ or; ‘Obama must deal with a resurgent threat from Russia.’

But aren’t these the same problems that President Bush has been dealing with for the past eight years? You wouldn’t think so to read a clipping archive. To read the coverage Bush has received you would think the threats were along the lines of, ‘Bush infringing civil liberties,’ or; ‘Bush helping cronies at Halliburton,’ or; ‘Bush policies accelerating global warming.’

Sometime between 2001 and 2008, many in the elite media gave up all prior pretense of objectivity and began practicing advocacy journalism. And some, such as the New York Times, pursued the deliberate undermining of the Bush administration as a matter of editorial policy.

Blaming the press for a bad outcome in politics is like blaming the referees in football. It generally rings hollow.

But Dallas Cowboys fans remember Super Bowl XIII in 1979. They remember that a blown pass interference call in the fourth quarter against Benny Barnes set up a Pittsburgh Steelers touchdown in a game that Pittsburgh won by only four points. Sometimes the referees can be the decisive factor.

With respect to the mistakes that Bush made — failing to use the veto pen in his first term, allowing spending to explode, failing to provide adult supervision of the Republican Congress — he boils in his own pudding.  So I don’t think that you can say that an openly hostile media constituted the decisive difference between George Bush leaving office on a high note or leaving office on this decidedly low note.

But you can say for sure that if the elite media don’t bear sole responsibility for the president’s low standing, they certainly bear a large percentage of it.  The business of journalism in America is the only enterprise specifically singled out for constitutional protection. That protection was given by the founding fathers because of their belief that a free press (now called “media”) serves a vital and irreplaceable role in a free society. But with freedom comes responsibility.

The treatment given George W. Bush by the mainstream media has been shameful. But unlike my adolescent treatment of poor old Miss Campbell, the potential consequence of that shame is anything but harmless. Our enemies took heart from every ill-considered hit piece written on George W. Bush.

So I wonder if someone from the elite media, late in his or her career with the benefit of age, wisdom and maturity, will ever have a “Miss Campbell” coming of age with its attendant regret.

I’d like to think so.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Paul Gleiser

Paul L. Gleiser is president of Gleiser Communications, LLC, licensee of radio stations KTBB 97.5 FM/AM600, 92.1 The Team FM & KYZS in Tyler-Longview, Texas.

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4 Responses

  1. Judy Drewry says:

    I agree wholeheartedly! Elite media today is nothing like that with which I grew up & held in high regard…when news was delivered in print, & on radio & television by principled, professional journalists who didn’t feel compelled to give news a slant or their own personal opinion, but simply delivered news & left opinion to readers/hearers. God bless Pres.Bush for all his efforts which have resulted in keeping our nation safe from more attacks by radical Muslim extremists. Thanks.

  2. Antony says:

    You have got to be kidding me. I voted for W in both of his bids for the Whitehouse. It really bugs me that you can not face the fact that Bush has made as many mistakes as the rest of us. He is not perfect and your insinuation that he is and should not be critizied is unbelievable. You lost the election, now get over it and stop bashing the legally elected new president. Why do you expect others to give a “fair shake” to the out going president but feel it is your duty to bash Obama freely. The three talk show host you have during the day continue your efforts and you do not have a problem with they are unfairly bashing Obama before he has even taken office. What really blows my mind about it is that you come from the Veitnam generation and think that the unprovoked invation of another county is justified. Bush 1 was turning back a country that had invaded its nieghbor, Bush 2 and the U.S.(you and I)was the invaders in the 2nd Gulf “war”. It is sad that with your public responsibilties can not be honest in that clear fact. It is indisptable that we invaded another country and then have stayed and that goes againist everything that we are suppose to stand for in the US of A (freedom from oppression). We have killed an uncountable number of Iraqis not because they are harming us or might harm us. Bush has made mistakes stop whining about it, if you really believe he is blame free he should be able to take his medicine without your whining.

  3. Chester says:

    AFTER LISTENING TO YOUR RHETORIC ABOUT BLACKS BEING THE REASON THE ECONOMY IS SUCH A DISASTER IS LUDICROUS,COMING FROM SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO BE LIKE “RUSH THE PILL MAN”, WHO IN HIS OWN MIND IS THE REAL MESSIAH SHOULD BE IN JAIL FOR ALL THOSE PILLS AND FOR DOCTOR SHOPPING,IF THAT WAS A MINORITY IT’S JAIL TIME.MR. GLEISER, HANNITY, BECK AND OTHERS MUST BE DIPPING IN RUSHS PILL BOX.YOU KNOW THE IDEA OF BUSH KEEPING AMERICA SAFE, WELL, WHY WOULD THE ENEMY COME HERE TO KILL AMERICANS WHEN BUSH IS SENDING OUR TROOPS TO THEM.BUSH AS FAILED IN EVERY BUSINESS HE EVER VENTURE IN,HIS FATHER HAD TO BAIL HIM OUT.OH, MR. GLEISER YOU DOWN GRADE BLACKS THIS MORNING, HOW MANY WORK FOR YOU AT THE RADIO STATION? THEIR ARE BAD PEOPLE IN ALL RACES SIR,AS FAR AS WHITE GUILT, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU SHOULD FEEL GUILTY ABOUT OR DO YOU HAVE THE MORAL OF GEORGE BUSH. MAY GOD LEAD MR. OBAMA AND PROTECT HIM FROM PEOPLE LIKE YOU RUSH, HANNITY, BECK, AND OTHERS WHO WISHS HIM ILL.

  4. Matt McCauley says:

    HELEN (NO ‘DOUBTING’ WHAT A LOON SHE IS) THOMAS

    Poor Helen Thomas. The Grande Dame of the White House press corps demonstrated for the world to see how her self importance and immersion in liberalism has finally addled her brain to the point of, hopefully, retirement…..and good riddance. The agency that has represented her has, wisely, dropped her as their client. That Helen could say….sober and with a straight face that Jewish people should return to Poland and Germany is racist, ignorant, spiteful and wrong on an abundance of levels.

    Ms. Thomas, why would you tell the Jewish people to return ‘home’ to where 6 million of their ancestors died? Why would you tell them to return ‘home’ when they have been given the land since the God of the Bible promised it to Abraham? And how, oh HOW, could you say that the Jewish people are ‘occupying Palestinian land’ that is legally and historically Israels??

    The undeniable fact is that by any traditional definition there is no such thing as a Palestinian culture. Ms. Thomas would have done well to recall the testimony of a renowned ARAB scholar, Phillip Hitti (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Khuri_Hitti)from wikipedia we see that ‘In 1945 he served as an adviser to the Arab delegation at the San Francisco Conference which established the United Nations.’ During his testimony he stated that the ‘Palestinians are all of ARAB descent’ (by the way, Ms. Thomas Yassir Arafat was NOT a Palestinian, he was born in Egypt!) Hitti testified that there is no art, music, food, dance or other defining cultural aspects peculiar to the people claiming to be Palestinians. The truth is that the Palestinian people are a political entity used by enemies of Israel to weaken Israel and amp up sympathy for these so-called refugees. Arab nations have a land mass 600 TIMES the size of tiny Israel….and yet…this ally of the US does it’s best to accomodate them and still serve the interest of it’s own at the same time. Come on Saudi Arabia? Egypt? Syria? Step up and take in these poor refugees!!

    Good Riddance Ms. Thomas. I hope others of your ilk will soon follow……..and by the way, where will you be returning to? Or can America offer one of the Aleution Islands as a retreat? If the critters there will have you that is.

    From Matt McCauley in Bullard

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