Leo's Lies

Dedicated to exposing John Leo of US News & World Report for the cheap right-wing hack he is

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The most biased media member - John Leo

Once again, John Leo shows himself to be among the most undeservedly lucky people in the universe. How he manages to hold on to a regular column in a decent magazine like US News & World Report is completely beyond me and has been for years (he is the reason I no longer subscribe; when they called me to ask why I hadn’t renewed, I complained about Leo being essentially a mouthpiece for the Republican National Committee.)

John Leo is a loudmouth, whining crybaby. Time and again he lambastes the Left for some minor transgression while completely ignoring the far vaster and more serious crimes of the Right.

In his column of Oct. 11, “Self-inflicted wounds,” he shows all of his disagreeable traits at their utmost. First of all, he gives George W. Bush a pass for the infamous “16 words” in his 2003 State of the Union message, claiming that a Senate committee and official British investigation both backed the assertion that Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire yellowcake uranium ore in Niger. First of all, the Senate did no such thing. It put off making a decision. The British have for some reason refused to admit that they were hoaxed on this matter by Italian intelligence. But every other legitimate investigation of the question has shown that Saddam Hussein could not have acquired yellowcake even if he made the attempt. And, given that he had no ongoing program to produce nuclear weapons at the time of our invasion, even if he had been able to acquire yellowcake, there’s nothing he could have done with it.

But John Leo seems insistent on being the last person on the planet (other than William Safire) to believe that Saddam had an ongoing nuclear weapons program. And no amount of evidence appears likely to persuade him otherwise. Since he can’t be wrong, obviouisly everyone else must be. And it can’t be mere error; no, if others don’t agree with him, it must be bias on their part.

But he fails to see that merely making an accusation is not the same as proving it. Blaming the New York Times for not agreeing with him is basically doing what he accuses the Times of doing—ignoring news he doesn’t like. The CIA tried desperately to get Bush not to mention the yellowcake because they knew it could not be proven. The Energy Department tried to shoot down the idea that Saddam was acquiring machined cylinders for centrifuges, but Bush and Rice ignored them. Which means that Leo can ignore the evidence, too, since it does not lead where he wants it to have gone.

Similarly to the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. He charges that “most major news media stayed silent for nine or 10 days as the story of the charges spread over radio and the Internet.” Given that almost every charge they made has been completely refuted—something Leo totally ignores—one could only wish that he were right and that most major media had ignored it. Again, Leo is about the only journalist in America who thinks that’s the case. Rather than look at what they’re saying, he is bitching that their lies did not get any wider spread than the unfortunate amount of press time they did receive.

Next, he is exercised by what he calls John Kerry’s “imaginary Christmas-in-Cambodia yarn.” Okay, John Kerry did not spend Christmas 1968 in Cambodia. It was late January or early February 1969. Gosh, the man’s a serial liar who can’t be trusted with the presidency. The fact that George W. Bush unquestionably lied about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs is immaterial next to the fact that John Kerry misspoke by a couple of months when he was in Cambodian waters. Off with Kerry’s head. And off with the media’s for not destroying Kerry for misspeaking by a couple of months.

As with every other thing John Leo does, he seizes upon even the tiniest example of a goof, gaffe, error, or mistake of anyone he can’t stand and magnifies it as if it’s the worst depredation in the history of humanity. Meanwhile, he pays no attention whatsoever to anything, no matter how heinous, done by someone whose side he is on.

The Swift Boat Veterans were demonstrably liars; but they’re opposed to John Kerry, so it’s wrong for the media to treat their mendacious claims with anything other than blind credulity. He likes George W. Bush, therefore investigations that did not actually back up the president must be treated as if they did.

John Leo has been given a rare opportunity to expound in a major news magazine, one that prides itself on being more serious than Time or Newsweek. His screed against media bias unfortunately leaves out just about the most biased member of the media—himself.