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The Top 10 Stories and Non-Stories of 2008 By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 02, 2009

In the election cycle of 2008, more has been made of media bias than at any time in recent memory. Numerous publications belatedly admitted fawning coverage of our president-elect. Another, more concealed form of bias takes place as the elite media shape public debate by selecting which stories to cover or ignore. Below are my observations of some of the most egregious examples the past year offered.         


10. “That One.”
In the second presidential debate, held on October 7, Senator John McCain tried to defend himself from charges that he had done nothing to advance energy independence by contrasting his vote on an energy bill with that of Barack Obama. “You know who voted for it?” he asked. “You might never know. That one. You know who voted against it? Me.” This innocuous comment became a feeding frenzy for the rest of the campaign. Mike Allen of Politico.com rightly observed, “The puzzling reference to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as ‘that one’ by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has become the most-discussed moment of a bland, forgettable presidential ‘debate.’” Bill Burton of the Obama campaign immediately e-mailed reporters: “Did John McCain just refer to Obama as ‘that one’?” His campaign, with the exception of Joe Biden, stoked the fires by branding the comment “angry,” “erratic,” or disrespectful.

The media quickly recycled the campaign’s talking points. The next morning, Associated Press reporter Philip Elliott opened his story on the debate thus: “John McCain dismissively called rival Barack Obama ‘that one’ while Obama mocked McCain’s ‘Straight Talk Express.’”  Nia-Malika Henderson of Newsday went further. “So was it simply an offhand way of referring to an opponent, as some argued?” she asked. “Or was it a more dismissive, curmudgeonly and perhaps racially coded comment, akin to saying ‘you people,’ as others said?” 

It was a demonstrative pronoun intended to juxtapose Senator Obama with himself, but it gave the press another opportunity to advance the Obama campaign’s narrative and accuse Republicans of racism. As if they needed one.
9. Bristol Palin’s Phantom Pregnancy.
Advocates of the Sexual Revolution have a lot of explaining to do. Those staunch hedonists who instructed Americans to “Move On” from Bill Clinton’s sex scandals a decade ago, insisting it was none of the nation’s business what a political figure did in the privacy of the Oval Office hallway, displayed apoplectic prudishness over Bristol Palin’s pregnancy. Their response had been honed over their false allegations that it was not Bristol’s first pregnancy, but that she had given birth to Trig Paxson Van Palin, and the vice presidential nominee of the Republican Party faked her own pregnancy to cover it up. (It’s never the crime; it’s always the cover-up.)       

The DailyKos commenced the sexual inquisition with a post entitled “Sarah Palin is NOT the Mother,” complete with pictures of Bristol Palin’s midsection. Michael Moore (whose midsection no one wants to examine) taunted Alaska’s governor, “Show Us the DNA!” (Both the Kos and Moore posts have since been pulled.)                         

The story had all the factual and logical consistency of any conspiracy theory, e.g., that we faked the moon landing, yet it was not long confined to the leftist fringe. Andrew Sullivan produced roughly a score of blog posts, hosted by The Atlantic, debating Trig’s parentage. Legitimate press outlets began covering the controversy.

The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz scoffed at the McCain campaign’s dismissals of the bloggers’ lunacy: “Is this a case of the McCain folks trying to marginalize a critic, as in Monday's blast at the New York Times as being in the tank for Obama?...Why not release the hospital records and put this matter to rest?”

The phony controversy forced the Palin family to announce Bristol’s actual pregnancy, making her delivery of Trig a biological impossibility. The entire affair gives the unseemly impression that the media enjoyed crucifying a 17-year-old because of her mother’s political orientation.
8. The Death of Rush Limbaugh’s Influence.
The death of Limbaugh has been proclaimed numerous times: with the ascent of the Democratic Congress in 2006, the nomination of moderate John McCain, and finally the election of Barack Obama. This is the same media that criticized Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos for tampering with the Democratic primary results, possibly providing Hillary Clinton’s narrow win in the Indiana primary this May. Why criticize the irrelevant?

Irrelevant people do not sign $400 million contracts and do not have the ear of 20 million listeners. What Rush calls the drive-by media can whistle past the graveyard all they like; the new media are rapidly displacing the elites.

7. John McCain and Sarah Palin’s “Pastor Problems.”
As Jeremiah Wright began to rival “Chocolate Rain” for total accumulated YouTube hits, the media sprang into full damage control mode. They soon found John McCain and Sarah Palin had a “pastor problem” of their own. Sure, Rev. Wright hated Amerikkka and kibbutzed with Muammar Qaddafi in Libya alongside Louis Farrakhan, but McCain and Palin had ties to Christians – and they might even be Christians themselves!

McCain’s “problem” was two-fold. First, he had received the endorsement of Rev. John Hagee, pastor of the 19,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee, a political and social conservative, shared a widespread evangelical view of prophecy and the “end times” that takes a harsh view of the Roman Catholic Church. He has said things Roman Catholics rightly find offensive. However, Hagee, an indefatigable supporter of Israel and a hardcore Christian Zionist, was accused of virulent anti-Semitism in a column written for Nation magazine by Max Blumenthal and reproduced on the CBS News website. (The American Jewish community repudiated the charge.) Nonetheless, McCain concluded, “I feel I must reject his endorsement,” and Hagee withdrew it.

Worse, McCain had appeared on a stage in February with Rod Parley, pastor of 12,000-member World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio. Facing a primary challenge from former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, McCain accepted Parsley’s support, calling him “a moral compass, a spiritual guide.” Parsley dared to deny Islam was a religion of peace, and the Left’s distortion chamber morphed his “Onward Christian Soldiers” rhetoric about overcoming Islam through Christ into a physical call-to-arms. Otherwise, Parsley’s Center for Moral Clarity led the charge against predatory payday lenders and casino gambling in the Buckeye State. Ultimately, McCain rejected Parsley’s endorsement, too.           

None of this is the same as selecting a radical hatemonger as your personal spiritual adviser for 20 years, naming one of your books after one of his sermons, defending his hate-filled remarks for weeks by claiming they were “taken out of context” (In what context is “God d-mn America!” appropriate, Mr. President-elect?), and likening him to your grandmother. Yet the media responded to the Wright controversy by equating it with McCain’s internationally beloved supporters.

Whatever their logical and substantive deficits, at least the McCain allegations possessed specificity; the media’ inquest about Sarah Palin’s faith could be summed up: “Are you now or have you ever been a Pentecostal?” Sarah Palin and her family attended an Assembly of God church before switching to the Wasilla Bible Church six years ago for its children’s ministry. At the AG church, she learned such radical notions as “God creates the world and it’s very good and that we’re supposed to be caretakers in terms of not destroying the environment.” She even dared to pray for American troops in Iraq, uttering a paraphrase of Abraham Lincoln’s dictum: “My concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God’s side.” (Her snobbish critics do not know this quotation.) According to Newsweek, unlike Rev. Wright, “The sermons of [Wasilla Bible Church’s] ministers steer clear of politics and hot-button social issues and dwell instead on scripture.” They even believe  the Bible is the “inspired, inerrant word of God.” 

This is the best the media could turn up after interviewing the entire town of Wasilla and rummaging through the church’s trash cans. Though no wrongdoing ever turned up, the media made constant intimations that there was something unsavory about these backwoods people who spoke in tongues, an “evangelical experience on steroids”  (although, they acknowledged, Palin never did). The media simply cannot resist the opportunity to state there is something strange about those people who go to church, who get greater satisfaction from prayer than vodka.

The fact that nothing subversive occurred in either Wasilla church did not keep a deranged radical from setting fire to Palin’s current worship facility.  Why ever would someone come to hate her church?

6. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg’s Gravitas.
Before she, you know, campaigned for appointment to Hillary Clinton's open U.S. Senate seat from New York – that is, you know, she is  trying to become a Democratic senator, um, I mean, there are issues along the way – Caroline Schlossberg (her real name) was considered the soul of erudition and wit. Her backing was said to pass the torch of Camelot from one generation to another.

Her January endorsement of Barack Obama in the pages of the New York Times (“A President Like My Father”) supposedly endowed Obama with an historical aura. “Caroline Kennedy's endorsement is a key one for Obama,” wrote Monifa Thomas in the Chicago Sun-Times. Her op-ed, followed by the strong support of Uncle Ted, boosted Barack.. (When else in history has Ted Kennedy’s endorsement been considered a positive good?) The message: both Obama and John Kennedy gave a great speech, but both had substance to back it up. Of course, members of the Kennedy clan have endorsed presidential candidates for decades, and every Democratic presidential hopeful since 1968 has attempted to liken himself to the hero of the PT 109. His daughter’s support hardly cements the similarity, particularly if it is seen as a quid pro quo for a U.S. senate seat. (Not that Illinois pols require such things in return for open U.S. Senate appointments.)

In a sense, Schlossberg’s endorsement did put Obama on par with her father. The phrase “Camelot” was Jacqueline Kennedy’s myth-making about JFK’s presidency, adopted in the grief of his assassination, the first since President McKinley and one with history-changing implications. Both New York Democrats, who refuse to extend the storytelling to a second generation, and Caroline’s condescending treatment of the media have lifted the veil. It’s a cliche, but she is no Jack Kennedy.

5. Global Warming Deniers
The media continue to demonize those who question the human contribution to global warming – and the necessary, socialist policies the Left offers to correct it. This year saw an increase in mainstream media use of the term “Global Warming Deniers,” a phrase intended to chill rational discourse and place those on the other side on equal par with neo-Nazis.

However, the cast of “deniers” hardly reads like a roster of George Lincoln Rockwell enthusiasts. Czech Republic President Vaclev Klaus has written curtly, “Global Warming is a Myth.” The late Michael Crichton voiced healthy skepticism. Sammy Wilson, the Irish Environment Minister, has become the most recent social leper. He recently told the European press, “I think in 20 years’ time we will look back at this whole climate change debate and ask ourselves how on earth were we ever conned into spending the billions of pounds which are going into this without any kind of rigorous examination of the background, the science, the implications of it all.”

The fact that 2008 was the coldest year in the decade, possibly longer,  should throw cold water on their hot air – but as with any religious faith, it is merely explained away and its blasphemers burnt at the stake.   

4. Sarah Palin: Ineducable Idiot Who Opposes Fruit-Fly Research for Autistic Children.
Since her entrance to the public stage, Sarah Palin has had to endure a pronounced baptism by fire. While the dominant media smear most conservatives as uneducated (witness their treatment of Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle, and George W. Bush), Palin came in for more intense fire than most.

It began with a stylistic problem. True, her performance in the Katie Couric CBS interview was an embarrassment. Despite assertions that it came from being overcoached or underprepared, her performance stemmed from being insufficiently devious. She had, indeed, been coached to correct one inordinate character flaw: when asked a direct question, Sarah Palin had the habit of giving a simple and direct answer – and this is something no politician could ever countenance. Interviews she conducted before being tapped for the veepstakes bear this out. In 2006 gubernatorial debates, she had to be drawn out for her crisp answers.(Compare her answers to the politispeak of former Democratic governor Tony Knowles) She sometimes answered complex policy issues in one minute; Joe Biden can’t clear his throat in that time.

GOP handlers undoubtedly coached her that one does not simply answer questions on the national stage. One has to work in talking points, take the question wherever you want. Use a question on, say, the bailout to slam Obama for trying to renegotiate NAFTA and raise taxes - and tell them we favor health care reform, too. Trying to channel the Beltway talking heads, Palin spewed this word-vomit:

Ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health care reform that is needed to help shore up the economy – Oh, it’s got to be about job creation, too. Shoring up our economy, and getting it back on the right track. So, health care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade – we have got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing, but one in five jobs created in the trade sector today. We've got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation. 

Palin made a tacit admission, as though ashamed of skirting the question, in one of her responses in the vice presidential debate: “I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people.” Like Quayle, she is not articulate, and this is highlighted in running against an articulate candidate (Obama) and a slick windbag (Biden). But she is not stupid.

There were two allegations that challenged this: that she did not know Africa was a continent, and that she was so stupid, she opposed research that might help her own child. The widely reported Africa story turned out to be a hoax. MSNBC’s David Shuster explained a producer heard the item and passed it on to him – and, as a crack journalist, he immediately blurted it out. And Palin opposed, not fruit fly research, but an earmark requested by a California Congressman designed to aid the olive oil industry.

Still, in much of the public mind, the dye has been cast. Reagan Secretary of Labor Ray Donovan once asked, “Where do I go to get my reputation back?” If there is an answer for a conservative politician, it is not the prestige media.

3. Sarah Palin Lost the Election.
Take one unpopular Republican senator who shared a mutual loathing with whole swaths of his party’s base. Give him the presidential nomination at the end of a bad cycle for said party. Put him up against a young, attractive, tabula rosa, part chameleon and part teflon, laden with oratorical prowess and messianic pretensions. Give this opponent a cult-like following. Simmer under media adulation. Stir in two lackluster Republican performances in three debates and mix with the natural limitations of advanced age. Then drop a 2,000-ton anvil labeled “International Economic Collapse” on top of the whole thing.

That was John McCain’s presidential campaign.

Despite all these, and many other, limitations, some have decided Obama amassed a minor electoral landslide for one simple reason: Sarah Palin. The facts, however, do not bear out this thesis. Once both parties’ nominees had been settled, McCain’s poll numbers topped Obama’s only once: the nine days between the time he chose Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee and the onset of the economic crisis (September 7-16). From that time forward, Obama opened up a lead and never looked back. Finger-pointing began before the election, with McCain aides looking to deflect blame, and as usual, blaming conservatives.
Perhaps thousands of reasons could be cited for McCain’s loss: media assistance of (not merely bias toward) Obama; a damaged Republican brand; McCain’s own legislative record, his long history of tweaking conservatives, his reticence to attack “my friends” in the Democratic Party, and his decision to allow Obama to position himself as a centrist without counterattack during the presidential debates. Without Palin’s appeal to secure his own base, McCain would have suffered a loss of humiliating proportions. She did not win the election, but she was no hindrance.
2. The Bradley Effect.
The knee-jerk media noticed something during the presidential campaign: Barack Obama is black. Since they suffer from white liberal guilt, they determined to make him president. However, since they believe their own country is a den of racists, they had to, err, shade their reporting accordingly.

Thus, the nation got an endless string of stories on The Bradley Effect during the election. Named for former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, the Bradley Effect first occurred in 1982 during his run for governor of California. A week before the election, polls showed Bradley well ahead of Republican George Deukmejian. However, on election day he lost by one point, and Deukmejian went on to become the state’s greatest governor since Reagan. The media blamed white racists, who told reporters they would vote for Bradley but backed out because of his skin color.

“Some analysts say the Bradley effect can account for 6 percentage points against an African-American candidate,” warned CNN’s Jason Carroll in 2008.

However, the Bradley Effect was a myth 26 years ago and is a myth today: Bradley lost because he took victory for granted, Deukmejian rebounded, and polling data were in error. (Despite all this, the final poll had The Duke within one point of Bradley shortly before the election.)

After the Obama victory, the Bradley Effect was quitely retired. In fact, election result closely mirrored the polls. The Real Clear Politics average of national polls shows all the final results either accurately predicting the vote percentage or adding perhaps one point to Obama, well within the margin of error. Let us rejoice; racism is dead. The United States has elected a black president. Can the racial scapegoating end now?

1. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s Report on “Torture” by Bush.
The newly Democrat-controlled Senate Armed Services Committee made headlines this winter with a report claiming the torture of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay was not the work of “a few bad apples” but resulted from Bush-Cheney-Rumesfeld policies on enemy detention. Carl Levin, D-MI, with the help of John McCain, produced the report. They simply failed to include any evidence of their incendiary charges or to adequately dismiss the numerous investigations before theirs that dismissed this spurious charge.

For instance, former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger led an investigation that concluded “there is no evidence of a policy of abuse.” As Jacob Laksin reported, a “2005 Army Regulation report...‘found no evidence of torture or inhumane treatment’” at Guantanamo Bay.  Moreover, Lt. Gen. Randall “Mark” Schmidt and Brig. Gen. John Furlow told the Senate Armed Services Committee in July 2005, “No torture occurred” at Guantanamo Bay. Schmidt and Furlow’s study – the twelfth probe in a 15 month period – uncovered four unpunished abuses out of 24,000 interviews at Gitmo, or 0.000167 percent of all interrogations. 

Familiar with these and many other such studies, six Republican senators deemed the Levin-McCain report “false and without merit,” adding, “It is counter-productive and potentially dangerous to our men and women in uniform to insinuate that illegal treatment of detainees resulted from official U.S. government policies.” 

Its authors inadvertently admitted this. In his appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, McCain quoted an al-Qaeda leader as saying, “The greatest recruiting tool we had – we were able to recruit thousands of young men – was Abu Ghraib.” Yet somehow those who continually endlessly draw attention to Abu Ghraib and repeat the false allegation that abuse there was a part of U.S. government policy cannot grasp their role in furthering that recruitment.

Honorable Mention: Bob Barr, Spoiler for John McCain. Conservatives had no trouble curbing their enthusiasm for a third party candidate; for details, please reference the penultimate sentence in, “Sarah Palin Lost the Election” above.


10. The Deaths of William F. Buckley Jr. and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
The conservative world lost two monumental figures in 2008. WFB was no less than the intellectual founder and prime representative of conservatism for five decades. His intellect, wit, grace, and warmth gave the Right a more attractive countenance than, say, Gerald L.K. Smith. However, his impact went far beyond his utility as totemic representative of non-liberals. He founded National Review, in the process pulling together disparate intellectual representatives of the disparate factions that would one day unite into the Reagan Coalition: traditionalists, libertarians, social conservatives, Cold Warriors, neoconservatives, and economic realists. He also repulsed those who did not belong in its ranks: anti-Semites, segregationists, conspiracy theorists, and theocrats. His boundless energy resulted in more than 35 nonfiction books, 20 novels, more than 5,600 newspaper columns, and 33 years of political discussion on Firing Line. His zeal led to the founding of such institutions as Young Americans for Freedom, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Conservative Party of New York. And he spared the nation the possibility of John Lindsay as a presidential candidate. However, his greatest gift was the personality he conveyed. To paraphrase Obama, he is the one we had been waiting for.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had a monumental impact in the annals of freedom. His Gulag Archipelago laid bare the crushing reality of Soviet oppression, which he lived to see destroyed. 

Despite the long shadow cast by each, compare their obituary notices to the media exposure given Tim Russert, Sydney Pollack, or even Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones. Nearly every obituary of Buckley mentioned his opposition to civil rights legislation...in the mid-1950s...as though it were a defining characteristic of his. (He reversed himself shortly thereafter.) Solzhenitsyn barely rated a mention. On the 200th anniversary of our nation's birth, President Gerald Ford refused to meet with the dissident, leading Ronald Reagan to seek the Republican presidential nomination that year. Twenty-two years later, the nation still turns it back on his spirit.

May both men rest in peace.

9. Problems with T. Boone Pickens’ Proposals.
When gasoline averaged more than $4 a gallon, Democrats vowed they would be the determining factor in the presidential election. When, by election day, they had fallen to $1.50 a gallon, the issue had long since disappeared. However, our nation's energy needs remain a pressing concern.

Texas oil man T. Boone Pickens, a serious and practical thinker, voiced his proposals in national commercials he paid for out-of-pocket. More as a result of his prestige than his money, the proposals made national news. However, the media relayed few if any critiques of his plan.

Pickens wished to fashion all new automobiles to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), and sell CNG conversion kits for existing automobiles. Then transform the nation's Midwest from farmland to a windmill-powered energy farm.

The trouble with his plans are significant. All automobiles would have too convert to CNG, requiring a massive retooling of our transportation and laying a new burden on our citizens. There is presently no national distribution system for CNG as there is for gasoline. CNG vehicles would be less durable than gas-guzzlers, and more distressingly, CNG offers a higher potential for explosion.

Wind power, too, has its troubles. Power generation would require a great deal of land and, according to reliable estimates, would yield only half the power Pickens claims. More, windmills may block radar detection in the heart of “flyover country.”

These are not insurmountable obstacles, and reliance on fossil fuels is a concern even at $1.50 a gallon. Howver, robust debate demands that these objections be noted.

8. Hillary’s Experience Problem.
In her pitched fight with Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton attempted to cast herself as the responsible, seasoned centrist the entire country could embrace. She implored a crowd in El Paso, “I'm tested. I'm ready. Let's make it happen.” In a less eloquent moment, she told an Iowa cattle auction, “I know you’re going to inspect me. You can look inside my mouth if you want.”

The problem is, it was a fantasy. As first lady, she attended ceremonial events. Aside from state teas and funerals, her contributions to national policy consisted of devising Hillarycare and advising her husband to retreat from Somalia faster than he did, an event that inspired Osama bin Laden to pick up the attack.Otherwise, as Dick Morris has noted, her legislative history consisted of passing bills assigning names to post offices.

Contasted with a half-term U.S. Senator who was in the Illinois State Senate when the Iraq War broke out, she seemed like Daniel Webster. But in reality, she had done absolutely nothing worthy of the office she sought. Her experience gambit proves that in the land of the blind, the one term senator is queen.

7. Saddam Funded the 2002 Propaganda Trip of Antiwar Congressmen to Baghdad.
In the fall of 2002, as Congress debated the authorization of force against Iraq, Saddam Hussein received a visit from left-wing Congressmen Jim McDermott, D-WA; David Bonior, D-MI; and Mike Thompson, D-CA. The trio received a carefully scripted tour emphasizing the destruction American sanctions visited upon the proud Iraqi people and the Baathist desire for peaceful coexistence. McDermott, et. al., rushed before international television cameras to pronounce Saddam Hussein the moral superior of George W. Bush. (McDermott said, “I think you have to take the Iraqis at their face value,” while opining, “I think the president would mislead the American people.”) Despite the propaganda value of the trip, moderate Democrats spoke not a word of condemnation. House Minority Leader and 2004 presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt remarked merely that “every member has to reach...their own conclusion.” [sic.] When asked if he would condemn McDermott’s statements, conservative Texas Democrat and then-Congressman Martin Frost replied with a terse “No.”David Horowitz and I thoroughly chronicled the event in our new book, Party of Defeat.

In March, prosecutors revealed Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Intelligence Service bankrolled their trip, paying two million barrels of oil to Muslim activist Muthanna al-Hanooti. Al-Hanooti worked for the Detroit-area Muslim charity Life for Relief and Development, and headed the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

The three Congressmen insist they had no idea Saddam bankrolled their propaganda trip, and unlike Saddam, there is no reason not to take their word at face value. They are not spies; they are useful idiots. When an American reporter asked McDermott if he were being used by the Hussein regime, McDermott replied, “If being used means that we’re highlighting the suffering of Iraqi children, or any children, then yes, we don’t mind being used.” When Third World dictators need someone to run interference, they know who to contact: leftist Democrats. They do the totalitarians’ bidding for free.

6. The Left Hates John McCain’s Military Service (and the Military in General).

The 2008 presidential election seemed to present a dilemma for some Democrats: the Republican nominee, John McCain, held many of the same positions as did they; his name appeared on legislation they favored; and a number of them offered to run on the same ticket with him. Moreover, he had a sterling resume as a genuine American war hero, the kind John Kerry pretended to have four years earlier. How could they dismantle their foe? Some decided to do so by despising his military record itself.

In April, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV, told The Charleston (WV) Gazette:

McCain was a fighter pilot, who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they [missiles] get to the ground?  He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people [to be president]. McCain never gets into those issues.

Rockefeller later offered a lame apology. Nation magazine actually ran a blog challenging McCain to prove he had, indeed, thought of his targets before bombing. The Barack Obama web community contained two posts calling McCain a “war criminal.” Alexander Cockburn's CounterPunch and Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin got into the act. Incredibly, Sixties radical Tom Hayden stated McCain had murdered civilians but had atoned for his sins by being justly tortured by the North Vietnamese: “he's done his time, so that's behind him.”

Left-wing assaults on our troops' performance have multiplied during the course of the Iraq War, from Ted Kennedy and John Kerry to Dick Durbin and Jack Murtha. Rockefeller's slip proves they are part of a larger narrative: American soldiers are bloodthristy killing machines, regardless of the war, and should be treated as pariahs and social lepers.

5. George Soros Underwrote Osama bin Laden’s Talking Points.
Osama bin Laden has long plagiarized leftist rhetoric in his videotaped messages. However, in January 2008, the media revealed the Left's most prominent funder had paid for a study quoted by Osama himself.

George SorosOpen Society Institute provided nearly half the funding for a study conducted by far-Left epidemiologist and Democratic Congressional hopeful Les Roberts. OSI contributed nearly $50,000 to the, which study accused the United States of killing 650,000 innocent Iraqi civilians. Osama bin Laden himself cited the study in his September 2007 message, saying:

[T]he failure of your democratic system, despite it raising of the slogans of justice, liberty, equality and humanitarianism. It has not only failed to achieve these things, it has actually destroyed these and other concepts with its weapons –  especially in Iraq and Afghanistan – in a brazen fashion, to replace them with fear, destruction, killing, hunger, illness, displacement and more than a million orphans in Baghdad alone, not to mention hundreds of thousands of widows. Americans statistics speak of the killing of more than 650,000 of the people of Iraq as a result of the war and its repercussions. (Emphasis added.)

Ironically, his conclusions were disputed by other antiwar organizations. The Iraq Body Count issued a series of “Reality Checks” dismissing Roberts’s conclusions as “extreme and improbable.” IBC set the number at roughly one-eighth Roberts' estimate.

Subsidizing and releasing an erroneous report that dishonored Americans, justified their murder, and supported the cause of Osama bin Laden? Just another day for the radical Left.

4. The Exoneration of the Haditha Marines.
In May 2006, Democratic rising star Rep. Jack Murtha called a press conference to accuse his fellow Marines of being blood-drenched sadists. At the conference, Murtha revealed that the previous November a group of Marines had claimed to engage in firefight with the enemy near the town of Haditha, Iraq, but had actually mudered civilians “in cold blood.” Further, American forces covered up for the guilty.

Once the trials began, Murtha's lies unraveled. As of this writing, all but one of the Haditha Marines has been acquitted or found innocent of wrongdoing. Only Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich has yet to face trial. Whether he is convicted or exonerated is immaterial. The Left's grand conspiracy of American murder and coverup long ago evaporated. But while the allegations were frontpage news around the world, the exonerations have been minor curiosities. And the imbalance has cost American lives.

3. Missile Defense Continues to Progress.
Leftists have branded missile defense a pipe dream, Star Wars, something that Ronald Reagan pumped a great deal of money into only to watch it fail. In fact, the system made great strides in 208. The AP noted,  “The Pentagon has already conducted several tests of the program, including one earlier [in December] that successfully struck a missile over the Pacific Ocean, simulating a launch from nations such as North Korea.” The interception came after another provocation by North Korea, signaling the futility of the program to Pyongyang. As a result, the United States made a pact with Poland and India to develop this national defense system. Just Tuesday, the Defense Department awarded a $397 million contract to Boeing to develop the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense program.

These underreported successes are particularly important, since missile defense may be on the chopping block in the new administration. With Iran threatening to acquire a nuclear weapon, nothing could be more irresponsible than cutting it.

2. We Defeated Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
At one time, if the United States vanquished an enemy, it was considered newsworthy. However, one would have to read The Sunday (London, England) Times to learn that in July, the Iraqis led a “final purge of Al-Qaeda” from northern Iraq. In case it mattered. The Associated Press reported, “U.S. military deaths in Iraq plunged by two-thirds in 2008 from the previous year, a reflection of the improving security following the U.S. military's counterinsurgency campaign and al-Qaida's slow retreat from the battlefield.” CIA Chief Gen. Michael Hayden said in November that al-Qaeda in Iraq fell victim to a U.S.-Iraqi “bleed out” from the country and has shifted its forces from Iraq to North Africa, East Africa, and Yemen. Although al-Qaeda agents remain in Iraq, the organization has been destroyed. The Surge did accomplish the military objective of vanquishing the enemy, contrary to those members of the Party of Defeat who proclaimed it failed before it even reached full strength. 

This strikes one as mildly important, as Osama bin Laden once declared Iraq “is the Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world’s millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate.” Osama once told the world's Muslims one side would leave Iraq either in triumph or defeat. When all else is said and done, President Bush was right about the Surge, which accomplished its military goal, and the Left was completely wrong about how to win a war. That is why the news is being whispered on a blog.

1. Barack Obama’s Beliefs. About Anything.
After assuring the American people Barack Obama had the insight, values, judgment, and even experience to be president, the mainstream media had a minor, post-election epiphany: they had not actually done any reporting about him. Thus, after November 4, the pundits began opining Obama had become a mystery within a riddle wrapped in an enigma. PBS snoozer Charlie Rose admitted, “I don't know what Barack Obama's worldview is.” NBC's Tom Brokaw chimed in, “We don't know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.” Others have called the Chicago community organizer “a blank slate,” someone about whom we know nothing.

One can and should dispute this. Though he is too politically savvy to follow his heart in every specific, he has spoken clearly about his views on wealth redistribution, the federal judiciary, military strategy, his view of human life, the proper limits on abortion (none), strengthening gun control, and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as between one man and one woman. However, it is true Obama, due to a dearth of experience and accomplishment, is not easily forecast: we do not know precisely how much of this agenda he will enact and in what time frame.

Obama proves the American Dream: it is possible to be elected president of the United States, not only without doing anything, but without vowing to do anything specific.

...But this is possible only if the media shun their most fundamental obligation to those they serve. Luckily for Obama, this year they did.

Honorable Mentions:
A. Joe Biden's Post-9/11 Homeland Security Plan.
Shortly after 9/11, Biden hit upon a brilliant idea to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world: “Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran.” Swell idea, Joe! This judgment is of passing importance, because Biden is the second most powerful man in the world and widely lauded for his foreign policy expertise. Instead, the world knows he used to break kids' noses in Scranton.
B. Planned Parenthood Covers Up Statutory Rape. A number of pro-life groups have had callers, or visitors, pose as girls as young as 13-years-old. They tell Planned Parenthood employees they have become impregnated by their much older boyfriend, and the federally funded abortion provider often refuses to report the situation to the authorities as statutory rape. The story is not new, but some of the evidence is.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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