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Conventional Wisdom

The mainstream media still has the power.

11:00 PM, Nov 30, 2005 • By FRED BARNES
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Last year, the mainstream media went into a frenzy after the president was accused of being AWOL during his National Guard duty. But the same media was uninterested when scored of Swift Boat veterans who served with John Kerry challenged his heroic account of his Vietnam service. And when it finally took up the Kerry story, the mainstream media's focus was primarily on discrediting the vets, not Kerry.

This year, the same double standard applies to the Democrats' attempt to market the story that the president lied about Iraq intelligence before war. With rare exceptions, Democrats are not required to justify their charge with evidence. Bush, though, is being called on to defend his innocence.

On top of all that, the mainstream media likes to throw its weight around, often at Bush's expense. When he attended the Summit of the Americas in Argentina earlier this month, Bush met with American reporters to answer a few questions. The first four (of five) were about whether he would fire senior aide Karl Rove, apologize to the American people, combat the notion he's untrustworthy, or try to give his presidency a fresh start. Only one dealt with his policy toward Latin America.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.