1/15/2005

Poor conservatives...they had such high hopes for exposing liberal media bias once and for all...

Joe Conason writes in Salon:
Republicans had every reason to consider Dick Thornburgh an utterly reliable political ally who would fulfill their dream of exposing the "liberal media" as head of the investigation into "Memogate" at CBS. When his selection was announced, Rather fumed and the conservative critics gloated. "The beauty of the entire thing," cackled Cal Thomas, the syndicated columnist who appears as a media analyst on Fox News Channel, "is here's Dan Rather, one of Richard Nixon's major antagonists, and now he's got his own version of an independent counsel going to look into this, and it's Dick Thornburgh and he doesn't like Thornburgh." Weekly Standard editor and Fox News contributor Fred Barnes, who regularly rants about "liberal media bias," likewise anticipated great revelations from Thornburgh. "What's in the works is the report by Dick Thornburgh, the former attorney general," said Barnes when Rather announced his impending retirement last fall. "Whenever it comes out we, I think we know now, it will be tough and scathing." Barnes said he hoped Thornburgh would prove that the CBS anchor had aired the Guard story "because he wanted to nail Bush before the election and affect the outcome of the election. He doesn't like George Bush."
Thornburgh's admirers cherished high hopes for the CBS investigation: They wanted him to reveal that the whole Bush National Guard controversy was just a Democratic dirty trick. (It wasn't.) They wanted him to assert that the president fulfilled his military obligations without receiving any preferential treatment. (Bush didn't.) They wanted him to prove that the questioned Guard documents were forgeries. (He couldn't.)
Worst of all, after four months of investigation, Thornburgh couldn't even sustain the moldy cliché about liberal bias. Among conservatives who cannot question their own outdated assumptions, that outcome stimulates the darkest paranoia: Good old Dick Thornburgh must have joined the liberal media conspiracy, too.

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