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The Media and the Memo By: Hugh Hewitt
Weekly Standard | Thursday, November 13, 2003


SEAN HANNITY'S big scoop is not generating the headlines it ought to. The memo Hannity obtained and made public that details the plans by Democratic staff on the Senate Intelligence Committee to politicize the committee's investigations in the service of partisan politics far overshadows in importance Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld's memo pushing the Pentagon to think about the hard problems ahead in the war on terrorism, but it has received significantly less attention than the Rumsfeld memo did.

Why?

Three reasons could account for the disparity in treatment:

The most obvious explanation is that elite media is populated by left-leaning reporters and editors not inclined to throw spotlights on a memo the contents of which Democratic senator Zell Miller has called the "first cousin of treason."

A second explanation focuses on the fact that Hannity--a radio and television guy, not a print fellow--got the scoop, and newspapers hate being upstaged by talking heads.

The third theory is the most plausible: The Democratic memo reveals that much of what the media has been focusing on for the past six months has been a set-up job. The staff and Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have been selling story after story (think the Niger yellowcake and "imminent" threat controversies). Out of whole cloth, they have contrived an ambiguous but ominous speculation about the Bush administration's sinister motives for invading Iraq. Now, through this one memo, they have been revealed as nothing short of cynical political operatives. And the reporters who ran with their hints are revealed as breathless and easily manipulated amateurs.

The media has to ignore the memo because to focus on it would be to focus on their own gullibility.

There is no escaping the hard fact that the Democratic staff embraced the "verdict first, trial later" approach to oversight. They were on a mission to undermine the president and his administration, no matter what the intelligence showed or will show, and the senators did nothing to reign in their out-of-control staff.

The committee's Democratic members are discredited, as are their previous and future attacks on the president. When it comes to the national security, the statements of Democratic senators simply cannot be trusted. The proof is in the memo.


Hugh Hewitt is the host of The Hugh Hewitt Show, a nationally syndicated radio talkshow, and a contributing writer for The Weekly Standard.


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