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the Anti-Defamation League's
Hubert H. Humphrey First
Amendment Freedom Prize, re-
viewed "The- functions of the
free press." Phillips had impor-
tant advice to all freedom-loving
people. He stated in part:
Just before Watergate,
Newsweek polled the public
and found that 45 percent be-
lieved that reporting on the
Nixon Admihistration out of
Washington was "slanted."
But that group divided al-
most equally into those who
thought the media was prej-
udiced against the Adminis-
tration (23 percent) and those
who believed the media was
prejudiced in its favor (22
percent). In other words,
nearly half of America
thought the press slanted the
news but they were split
down the middle on which
way we were slanting it.
Could it be that bias some-
times is in the eye of the be-
holder? Do we sometimes
have slanted readers?
People are so committed, so
involved, so agitated in this
age of change and con-
troversy and instant com-
munications that many of
them look for newspaper ac-
counts of events — from
Nicaragua to South America
— to reinforce and agree with
their own views, even their
prejudices. If they don't get
that, they often feel the press
is not credible.
In 1959, Walter Lippman
told the National Press Club
that the inescapable job of
the Washington correspon-
dent was to make a meaning-
ful picture out of the jumbled
jigsaw puzzle pieces that
were the bits of daily raw
news. But he hastened to add
that the analogy was imper-
fect. "Our job, he said, "is
harder than it implies. In real
life, there is not, as there is in
every jigsaw puzzle, one pic-
ture and one picture only
into which all the pieces will
Collectively, U.S. newspap-
ers have vastly' improved the
extent and quality of their
coverage over the past quar-
ter century and also the con
scientiousness with which
they approach their respon-
sibility to be both accurate
and fair. They have improved
the educational level and
professionalism of their
staffs. They have. stressed
care and balance as never
before. They have gone on an
orgy of self-examination and
self-criticism that exceeds
anything they've done in the
We niust do even more. We
must do more to prevent our
failing in the future, as we
often have in the past, to an-
ticipate, to foreshadow for
our readers some of the
major trends in society.
It is distressing to look at
our coverage in the 1960s of
northern racial tensions and
later of campus urirest. We
overlooked the smoldering
- fuses' and moved in on those
Friday, September 13, 1985 7
stories only when the explo- Roosevelt, those who said he
knew about Pearl Harbor be-
Many papers — not all — fore it happened.
failed in the 1970s to alert
That is because they shared
their readers to the energy James Madison's view of the
shortage that was in the mak- press' shortcomings. Mr.
ing even before the oil Madison summed it up this
boycott. Most failed equally way: "Some degree of abuse
in the 1980s to alert readers is inseparable from the pro-
to the switch to an oil glut.
per use of everything, and in
Even those of us close to no instance is this more true
the scene failed to prepare than in that of the press. It
our readers for the financial has accordingly been. decided
.. that it is better to leave a
crisis that shook New York
City in the 1970s and had few of its noxious branches
such wide ripple effects. In to their luxuriant growth
the 1980s the crisis in the So- than, by pruning them away,
cial Security System* was to injure the vigor of those
among the issues not suffi- yielding the proper fruits."
The alternative would be
ciently foreshadowed for our
doctrine of control and order-
The failure to anticipate liness which the drafters of
such major news develop- the Bill of Rights rejected.
My faith is firmly with Mr.
ments is one of the most
crushing criticisms that de- Madison and his doctrine.
serve to be leveled at the per-
There is good advice here.
formance of the press. But There is applicability to the
critics have chosen to focus Middle East, although there can
on other alleged weaknesses, be no denying that in expecting
touching on bad faith and too much from Israel and Jewry
malice, that are not nearly so the media have erred miserably
I sin distressed to see the
Nevertheless, the Madisonian
proliferation of these changes principle quoted by Publisher
of bad faith and their expres- Phillips remains positive. Al-
sion in a flood of lawsuits, in ways having been a leading idol
new government efforts to among the Founding Fathers of
choke off the flow of informa- this Republic for this commen-
tion in all kinds of efforts to tator, the views of James Madi-
intimidate the press to forego son strike oil.
certain kinds of news cover-
George Washington didn't 5746 Blessings
Exception may be taken to
sue when, in 1795, a New
York journal called him "in- some of the problems thus posed
famously niggardly" in his for the coming year.' If there are
private business and said he objections to raising them, let it
was a "most horrid swearer be said that they can be multi-
and blasphemer" despite his plied. Therefore, even the few
religious pretensions, or must be accepted and treated
when the Philadelphia Aurora with due consideration,
In the long run, despite the
said he had legalized "cor-
ruption," was guilty of "polit- negatives, it will always be as-
ical degeneracy" and was the serted that Jewry will face up to
"debaucher of a nation." Jef- problems and resolve them.
ferson didn't sue when the Difficulties will be overcome,
New England Palladium called blessings will predominate.
Such is the confidence that
him a "plagiarist." '
Lincoln didn't sue those lends faith to the exchange of
who wrote about him as a Rosh Hashanah salutes between
baboon, nor Franklin writer and readers.
Jewish Terrorists Seek
Lighter Prison Terms
Jerusalem (JTA) — Five con- years in prison. He contended in
victed members of a Jewish ter- his appeal that he had been
rorist underground• cell have ap- brain-washed into confessing the
pealed to the Supreme Court for crimes and claimed his inter-
lighter sentences. The state rogators told him that amnesty
prosecution meanwhile has ap- for all of the accused Jewish ter-,
pealed to the high court to im- rorist depended on his confes-
pose stiffer penalties.
Nathan Nathanson, Haim
Ben-David was sentenced to
Ben-David and Barak Neer filed 31/2
years in prison for his part
their appeals last week for re- in a conspiracy
to blow up Is-
duced sentences. Two other con- lamic shrines on
victed terrorists, Hagai Segal Mount. Neer drew the
a six-year jail
and Yitzhak Novick, have sub- . term for participation
sequently filed appeals.
and grenade attack
Nathanson was convicted of machinegun
the Islamic University in
membership in a terrorist •on
in which three Palesti-
organization,, causing serious nian students
were killed and
bodily harm and participating in for
planting bombs in Arab
the car bomb attacks against buses
Jerusalem in an
three Arab. mayors in June attempt in to East
blow them Up.
1980. He was sentenced to three
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