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The Tightening Race And The Wreck Of The Los Angeles Times

Thursday, October 30, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Every national tracking poll has the McCain-Obama race at between 3 and 8 points. This is a considerable tightening in favor of John McCain, and the fact that three of these polls that put the margin at 3 points is very encouraging news for GOP troops across the country.

Which brings us to the Khalidi-Obama tape and the decision of the Los Angeles Times to suppress it. This is an astonishing moment in the history of journalism. In the last presidential campaign, an arm of MSM attempted to influence the race by inventing a major story. This time, a different arm is influencing the race by censoring the news.

Times’ owner Sam Zell and every single editor and reporter at the paper are thus now complicit in a decision to manage the news so that voters are not informed of all that might influence their choice of president. The videotape might be as bland as skim milk, or as incendiary as even the most inflammatory Jeremiah Wright sermon, but the content doesn’t matter. The paper is suppressing the news and using Orwellian language to claim otherwise. The silence from other MSMers tells us all we need to know about their commitment to the mission of getting important facts before the public.

Imagine that the tape is of the sort as to tilt the election to McCain, but because of its suppression by the Times, Obama is elected. The paper then “owns” everything that follows on Obama’s watch. This is of course true for the author of every partisan action that yields a decisive influence on an election, but it is an unprecedented position for an alleged newspaper to be in. Newspapers thump their chests when state secrets are revealed, claiming the need of the public to know even at the risk of damaging national security. What a turnaround to be wholly and irrefutably exposed as a mere agent in a presidential campaign rather than the guardian of the public’s interest in truth.

When the Times published stories on the SWIFT program used to track terrorist financing, I interviewed the Times’ D.C. bureau chief, Doyle McManus. Here’s the core of that interview:

HH: Is it possible, in your view, Doyle McManus, that the story will in fact help terrorists elude capture?

DM: I did…I neither believed it nor disbelieved it. I would believe I took that seriously. It’s impossible for me to evaluate independently to what degree…whether the potential assistance to terrorists…I think they actually didn’t argue that it would help terrorists. They argued that it would disadvantage, or make more difficult, counter-terrorist programs. But that’s probably a distinction without a difference. What…would that be momentous? Would it be marginal? I don’t know.

HH: Is it possible, in your view, Doyle McManus, that the story will in fact help terrorists elude capture?

DM: It is conceivable, yeah, although it might be worth noting that in our reporting, officials told us that this would, this disclosure would probably not affect al Qaeda, which figured out long ago that the normal banking system was not how it ought to move its money, and so turned to other unofficial and informal channels.

HH: The terrorist Hambali came up. He was captured in August of ’03, mastermind/financier of the Bali bombing. Are you familiar with Hambali?

DM: I am.

HH: And did they alert you to the fact that they believe that Hambali was captured as a result of this SWIFT program?

DM: They did not. The first I knew of that was when I read it in the New York Times.

HH: Is it possible now that whoever was familiar with what Hambali did, those terrorists in Southeast Asia, could just simply reverse engineer his financing, and figure out what they shouldn’t do now?

DM: Well, I suppose it’s possible, except in effect, what we’re talking about here is the simple question of whether international banking transmissions are monitored….

The Times was willing to run the risk of informing terrorists about efforts to capture them, but is refusing to inform the American people about relevant, indeed, potentially decisive facts on the eve of an election.

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