The Current Crisis

The Latest in Liberal McCarthyism

Before they're through, California reporters will find a way to link Bill Simon to Bob Jones, George Wallace, and the Indiana Ku Klux Klan.

By 7.2.02

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Bill Simon's low-key gubernatorial campaign is unnerving some California journalists. What are biased liberal journalists supposed to do when the Republican candidate is temperate and uncontroversial?

This is a real drag for reporters whose raison d'être is nailing Republicans. But liberals at the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News remain undaunted. Experts at shoehorning smears into their stories and calling them "news," they rolled out two guilt-by-association pieces about Simon this last weekend.

Laura Kurtzman of the Mercury News discovered through intense investigative work that Bill Simon is "anti-abortion" and gives money to homeless pregnant women in distress. And that's not all: it turns out that members of this organization called "Good Counsel" also oppose abortion, and know other people who oppose abortion too.

You see, the really important story is not that Bill Simon gives money to the disadvantaged -- so what if Good Counsel helps 4,000 women before and after pregnancy? -- but that he is linked to pro-lifers that reporters like Kurtzman find "extreme." It really bothers Kurtzman that Good Counsel's web page "links to groups that espouse radical anti-abortion views." What does this have to do with Simon? Was he the Webmaster? No, it has nothing to do with him. But why not throw it in anyway? Any stick will do on a pro-life Republican.

Kurtzman reports innocently that "Simon's opposition to abortion will almost certainly play a pivotal role in the fall campaign." Oh really? Might that have something to do with your partisan, pro-abortion reporting? Liberal reporters are like people who cause car crashes, then join the gawking scene to wonder "what happened."

Left up to the California people, the abortion issue will play no role in the fall campaign. But the people don't decide campaign issues; the left-wing media do. The above sentence should read: "Because of the pro-abortion California media, abortion will almost certainly play a pivotal role in the fall campaign."

Kurtzman writes that since "winning the primary, Simon has tried to broaden his appeal to voters -- two-thirds of whom support abortion rights -- by softening his abortion stance." Is this a fact? No, it is an impression and a wrong one. How can you soften a position that was never hard to begin with? Simon never spoke of abortion in the primary except when reporters backed him into it.

Kurtzman's big scoop that Simon "has ties to foes of abortion" may have been eclipsed by the San Francisco Chronicle's amazing discovery that Simon talked to religious Republicans during the primary. Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Carla Marinucci find it newsworthy to report now that Simon "wooed voters of the state's religious right" during the primary. The shocking smoking gun? He once did an interview on the Trinity Broadcast Network in Orange County: "Videotapes of Simon's appearance -- which went uncovered by the news media during the primary election -- and other TBN broadcasts were obtained by the Chronicle and KTVU Channel 2."

Wow. What a scoop. Did Simon say anything over-the-top in the interview? Oh no, but that's not the point: he associated with undesirables, reports the Chronicle. And to prove it, they quote a TBN critic, Hank Hanegraaf, saying that the network is on the "lunatic fringe."

Attacking Republicans through their associations, no matter how far-fetched, is the Chronicle's forte. The paper will resort to the most childish gotcha journalism against any Republican even vaguely pro-life. The deception it deploys borders on satire. In this most recent Simon-is-a-creature-of-the-Christian-Right story, it tosses in this tangential fact: "He also hired political director Steve Frank, who has worked closely with the religious right on issues ranging from support of school vouchers to opposing abortion." What the Chronicle doesn't report is Frank's religion -- Judaism. Though the Chronicle knows this fact, it doesn't report it, lest the smear lose its sting.

Meanwhile, Simon, even as he gets hit with faked-up stories, continues to lead in the polls. Liberal Chronicle columnists Philip Matier and Andrew Ross reported on Monday that Democrats in Sacramento recently conducted a statewide poll that found that Californians "weren't too happy about the state's chief engineer," with "58 percent giving Gov. Gray Davis a thumbs-down for his job performance."

They continue: "Even worse: When respondents were asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, Davis lagged nine points behind Republican challenger Bill Simon. The biggest spread we've seen so far."

Davis can't close this gap. But you can count on the liberal press to try and close it for him.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.