U.S. press backs off Bush

U.S. press backs off Bush

By Joe Baker, Senior Editor

The British press sees a shift in attitudes of American media toward the policies of George W. Bush toward Iraq.

The Guardian, a British daily, says U.S. media have begun pulling back from the president’s hard line on attacking Iraq.

The paper said a majority of top American newspapers now oppose any attack on Iraq without the support of the international community.

Guardian writers said recent massive global anti-war demonstrations and the growing rift between the Bush regime and some of its allies have produced a substantial shift in editorial stances across the U.S.

The Guardian said it surveyed 37 leading American papers that published editorials on the subject between Feb. 15 and Feb. 19. It found two thirds of the publications called for a “world coalition” to be set up before any military action in the Mideast.

The British newspaper said it viewed 15 of our newspapers as “hawkish” on the subject of Iraq, nine as “doves” and 13 as internationalist. The original survey was done by Editor & Publisher magazine.

That outcome stands in marked contrast to the position of the same papers Feb. 7, right after Secretary of State Colin Powell made his presentation to the U.N. At that point, those papers calling for international unity on the question were a distinct minority.

Current research shows the call for U.N. backing has become a dominant theme with most major newspapers, contrasting sharply with the extreme right television networks and papers such as Fox News and the New York Post. Both of those entities are owned by Rupert Murdoch, an Australian.

Newspapers such as Detroit Free Press, Dallas Morning News, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Orange County Register, represent the majority opinion. The Free Press said the world is a safer place if the U.N. remains intact, and the war, if necessary, would be better waged by a broad coalition than by the U.S. alone.

A number of newspapers, including the Fort Worth newspaper and the Oregonian in Portland, advised President Bush to heed the voices of the anti-war protesters. Newsday said Bush hasn’t made a strong enough case for attacking Iraq.

Some bigger papers, such as the pro-Bush Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, stayed solidly in the “war now” camp. They contend the protests are all the more reason to attack.

Another popular theme in the U.S. media is “French bashing.” Leading the assault were the New York Daily News and Murdoch’s New York Post, but there were others, too. They tried to paint France as the bully on the scene.

Shifting views of the U.S. press align with a recent survey of television coverage, finding the British broadcast media are generally adopting a hard line on the Bush administration with some 33 percent of news reports termed negative.

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