Whose Voice Counts?

Letter From New York

"I am teaching you to use a tool more deadly than a pistol." This is the message beginning journalism students hear from an instructor who spoke last year at a conference on "Our Enemies' Use of the Media," sponsored by Accuracy in Media. In a world of Goliaths, count Accuracy in Media as one of the Davids of our time. This handful of men have shown over and over again the incapacity of television networks and newspapers to remember simple facts. Recently, it was only AIM'S complaints that forced ABC's Good Morning America grudgingly to retract its claim that Lenin overthrew the Czar instead of the democratic government of Kerenski—only an American would call this entire series of events "the Russian revolution," and only an exile from Russia like Lev Navrozov would remember the facts. The lives of millions depend on the memory of such facts. Weapons are useless without such memory.

The professional journalists at the AIM conference insisted that incompetence, not bad faith, made the media reckless. They readily admitted that Soviet journalists (identified by defectors as KCB agents) receive better training in languages and the history of the countries they cover. This casual admission of incompetence made me uneasy. "Other peoples' misery is an opportunity for us journalists," Edwin Diamond, who writes on media for the New York magazine, remarked. But surely he...

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