Paul Krugmans Fascist Fantasy - March 25, 2003

Times Watch for 03/25/03

Paul Krugmans Fascist Fantasy The competition is stiff, but Paul Krugman is probably the Times most reliable Bush-bashing columnist. His latest Channels of Influence, doesnt disappoint in that regard, but Krugman saved his most vicious comment for war supporters. Krugman doesnt trust the media company Clear Channel Communications, which he accused of organizing pro-war rallies as a political favor to the Bush administration. The company appears to be using its clout to help one side in a political dispute that deeply divides the nation, Krugman wrote. (The Times would never do anything like that, of course, and neither would Krugman.) As for deeply dividing the nation, the Times front-page poll on Saturday showed 70 percent of Americans approved of Bushs handling of Iraq. Truly offensive was Krugmans comment on a pro-war rally not organized by Clear Channel: One of the most striking took place after Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, criticized President Bush: a crowd gathered in Louisiana to watch a 33,000-pound tractor smash a collection of Dixie Chicks CD's, tapes and other paraphernalia. To those familiar with 20th-century European history it seemed eerily reminiscent of.But as Sinclair Lewis said, it can't happen here.

Media Companies Doing Political Advocacy? The Times Is Horrified The Times cant take criticism of its own political advocacy, but it can certainly dish it out. Douglas Jehls Monday story on a pro-war rally devoted six paragraphs to criticism of Clear Channel Communications, a media company that has helped organize pro-war rallies across the country. Over the last few weeks, [radio host Glenn] Beck, whose three-hour program is heard five days a week on more than 100 stations, has helped promote many similar demonstrations under the banner of Rally for America. Some have been financed by radio stations owned by his employer, Clear Channel Communications, the nation's largest owner of radio stations, in an arrangement that has been criticized by those who contend that media companies should not engage in political advocacy. Tell that to the New York Times Company. Jehl continued to fret about the organizers behind the Virginia rally: Mr. Beck said his expenses and those of his staff were being paid by his immediate employer, Premiere Radio Networks Inc., a subsidiary of Clear Channel. But he said those costs were being reimbursed by Bills Khakis, a clothing manufacturer whose advertisements appear on Mr. Beck's Web site. In an e-mail message, a spokeswoman for Clear Channel, Lisa Dollinger, referred questions about the rallies to Premiere, saying only that the events were not sponsored by Clear Channel corporate, and I have no information. A spokesman for Premiere did not answer a telephone message today. The attorney general of Virginia, Jerry Kilgore, applauded the companies and the radio stations for their stance, saying, Support of America during a time of war is something to be commended. One wishes the Times was equally concerned about the largest force behind the anti-war protests-the Stalinist organization ANSWER. The group, led by Ramsey Clark, former attorney general turned Saddam Hussein supporter, calls for President Bushs impeachment on its web site. Eric Lichtblaus article on a recent anti-war march in Washington devoted just two sentences to concern over ANSWERs agenda, despite the fact that, as left-wing journalist David Corn noted, ANSWER is a Workers World Party front. Corn described the WWP this way: It advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castros regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il for preserving his countrys socialist system.