Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Media Bias On Display In San Francisco

In San Francisco's liberal Ninth Circuit Court today, a three- judge panel heard arguments in the strange case of Al-Haramain v. Bush. And the members of the media gathered in San Francisco showed their ideological colors afterwards

To those who may not be familiar with the case, this is essentially a test case as to whether the United States government has the legal authority to perform secret surveillance on anyone. The plaintiff is a Muslim organization called Al-Haramain that has been linked to a variety of Muslim terrorist organizations and has been shuttered in many countires for its unabashed laundering of money to said terrorists. Even the United Nations has placed Al-Haramain on its list of banned organizations. The organization was also concluded to be a terrorist organization here in the U.S. but somehow managed to gain posession of a document showing that they were the subject of surveillance, and thus sued the US government, claiming that the U.S. government does not have the authority to do such surveillance. The superb photo-journalist Zombie covered the day's action in exquisite detail, so I shall not recap here. Suffice to say that after the testimony was finished, many of the media gathered outside the courtroom in San Francisco gave one of the most damning demonstrations of bias that I have ever had the displeasure to see. 

The Muslim organization is being defended by an attorney whose name one might recognize- Jon Eisenberg, who represented Michael Schiavo in Schiavo's quest to have his wife Teri killed. As one might guess, he is an outspoken opponent of conservatism in general and the Republican Party and the Bush Administration in particular. His opponent representing the United States government was an attorney named Thomas Bondy. They received very different treatment from the gathered media once they had emerged from the courtroom. To quote Zombie,
Then Jon Eisenberg, the main attorney for Al-Haramain who had just argued the case, emerged from the building and let out a greeting of camaraderie and relief when he spotted his buddies in the media. Needless to say, they surrounded him and eagerly let him tell his side of the story. Jon Eisenberg pontificated for quite a long time.


Finally, Thomas Bondy -- the attorney for President Bush who was arguing the government's case against Eisenberg -- came out the courtroom door. He and his team of lawyers walked right past the reporters who had just interviewed John Eisenberg (including one who was still interviewing him, on the left of this picture). But not a single reporter showed the slightest interest in questioning him or interviewing him. When Bondy got to the bottom of the stairs, he heard something behind him and turned around, perhaps thinking it was a reporter asking him a question -- but no, it was just one of his colleagues. They stood there all by themselves, with at least 15 media members nearby, and no one approached them. So, they decided they might as well just leave. I don't know if they even wanted to give interviews -- perhaps they were glad they didn't have to repeat "no comment" over and over. But either way, no one in the media even tried. Why was Eisenberg treated like a superstar, while Bondy was totally ignored by the media?

Interspersed with Zombie's commentary were several pictures of the entire affair. I regret that Zombie was unable to identify any of the media organizations present, but all of them ought to be ashamed of their unprofessional behavior. I don't know what qualities are required of a 'professional reporter', but I would guess that objectivity, honesty and a passsion for accuracy and fairness should be featured prominently amongst them. Based on Zombie's pictures and commentary, there was no one who matched that description at this hearing today. Thus, I can offer some advice- if the media truly wants to shake its richly-deserved reputation for biased and unreliable reporting, they might want to minimize such scenes as this where they gather around their preferred side like groupies, while entirely ignoring the other side. Hat tip to Michelle Malkin. Cross-posted at NewsBusters.

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