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Didn't Lerner Its Lesson - March 17, 2003

Times Watch for 03/17/03

From the Yeah, Right Department

"We don't write the page from an ideological position," Times deputy editorial page editor told the NPR program Fresh Air.

No ideology here, Times deputy editorial page editor Philip Taubman told an interviewer of the paper's stance on Iraq: "We don't write the page from an ideological position, that we're Democrats or Republicans or we're anti-war. We try to look at every issue based on the merits." From the March 13 edition of the National Public Radio program Fresh Air (26th minute in)

Dick Cheney's Frightening New World Order

Alessandra Stanley's front-section story on Monday, "Two Disciples Spread Word: The End Is Near," discussed the Sunday talk show appearances by Secretary of State Powell and Vice President Cheney.

Stanley wrote: "Mr. Cheney has an easy, persuasive manner on television, always sounding unruffled and confident as he weaves the first names of his interviewers ("Bob" or "Tim") into his replies. Mr. Powell is more formal. But beneath his smooth, avuncular demeanor, Mr. Cheney articulated a far more radical - and more frightening - new world order."

Cheney argued on Sunday that war with Iraq would prevent Saddam Hussein from providing weapons to terrorist organizations. Stanley doesn't clarify what about Cheney's stance so disturbed her. Most people would consider the prospect of Saddam Hussein as a weapons provider more frightening than Dick Cheney advocating he be stopped.

Didn't Lerner Its Lesson Eric Lichtblau's piece, "Tens of Thousands March Against Iraq War," included criticism of ANSWER, the organizer of the anti-war protest in Washington: "The group, formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has drawn criticism from some people inside and out of the antiwar movement because some of its chief organizers are active in radical socialist causes and because it has taken controversial positions on issues not directly related to Iraq." ANSWER pleaded ignorance to the Times, which quoted group spokesman Larry Holmes: "We don't police our speakers at all. People here raise Palestine, Colombia, everything, but it's all basically about peace." Michael Lerner might disagree. A classic liberal who can claim Sen. Hillary Clinton as an acolyte, Lerner is also editor of the Jewish magazine Tikkun, and apparently is not sufficiently anti-Israel enough for ANSWER, which barred him from addressing a San Francisco rally because he had criticized ANSWER's anti-Israel views. The Times knows this. Just a week ago, contributing writer George Packer's story for the Sunday Times Magazine, on the high-tech aspect of the antiwar movement, remarked that Lerner had been banned from the San Francisco rally. What was that again about not policing speakers? Lichtblau could have worked that into his story to counter ANSWER's blandishment, "We don't police our speakers at all." Credit the Times for bringing up criticism of ANSWER. Yet the phrase "radical socialist," although an improvement on the paper's usual aversion to labeling the left, actually soft-pedals the communist sympathizers who comprise ANSWER. As left-wing journalist David Corn wrote for the LA Weekly in November: "ANSWER is run by [Workers World Party] activists, to such an extent that it seems fair to dub it a WWP front." He described the Workers World Party as "a small political sect that years ago split from the Socialist Workers Party to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The party advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il for preserving his country's 'socialist system.'"

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