When two men of such diverse viewpoints as Bill Bennett and Alan Dershowitz agree, it’s worth noting:
So far as we can tell, a new, twin policy from the mainstream media has been promulgated: (a) If a group is strong enough in its reaction to a story or caricature, the press will refrain from printing that story or caricature, and (b) if the group is pandered to by the mainstream media, the media then will go through elaborate contortions and defenses to justify its abdication of duty. At bottom, this is an unacceptable form of not-so-benign bigotry, representing a higher expectation from Christians and Jews than from Muslims.
Of course, by Harvard standards, the two would probably on the same page, as Dershowitz noted to Hugh Hewitt:
“In America, I am left-center, but certainly closer to the left. And on the Harvard arts and sciences faculty, I would be on the extreme right.”
Which speaks volumes towards the intellectual diversity in academia.
Update:Ed Morrissey is much more optimistic about the repercussions of Dershowitz and Bennett’s op-ed than I am:
The utter failure of the press to inform its readers and to defend free speech and open criticism has been remarked several times on this blog, but this effort by Dershowitz and Bennett will have major repercussions for the media in the politics of the day. We saw this coming with the media’s love affair with the McCain-Feingold Act, in which Congress basically bribed the media with an exemption to the near-ban on political speech they imposed on almost everyone else. Once someone sells out, it becomes much easier to convince them to do it again.
When leading lights from across the political spectrum rise up to condemn the media for their cowardice — I can find no other word — the media can no longer hide behind a partisan analysis of the critique. They have exposed their own pusillanimity, and all Dershowitz and Bennett do here is shine a light on it.
And this will change…what, exactly? The press have been, in their own way, Victorian gentlemen probably since the end of World War II, and the great consolidation of city newspapers began their march, replacing a wide variety of opinion and vigorous muckracking with “Mass With Class“. The media knew they were no longer operating in a vacuum during the 2004 election (Drudge, Fox, the Blogosphere, et al), yet a self-described “objective” media paraded its bias and their limitations for all to see. Why should this latest example change anything?
The press is what is. I’d rather help build alternatives than call for reforms from within at this late date.