The leading liberal newspaper in the country keeps taking potshots at Ralph Nader.
I've searched in vain over the last several months for a positive opinion piece in the Times about the consumer advocate and Green Party candidate, but I've found none.
Instead, there's been one character assassination after another.
During the IMF/World Bank protests, Thomas Friedman called Nader a know-nothing.
Then on June 30, the Times editorialized against him, with a piece entitled "Mr. Nader's Misguided Crusade," which quickly went ad hominem, calling the campaign a "self-indulgent exercise" driven by "ego."
Not to be outdone, Anthony Lewis wrote a biting column entitled "Dear Ralph" on July 8. Lewis derided Nader for saying there are "few major differences" between Bush and Gore and called into question Nader's claim to speak "for the weak and the neglected."
The Times's rookie columnist, Paul Krugman, batted clean-up and swung wildly at Nader in a column on July 23 called "Saints and Profits." Cribbing shamelessly from a May 29 New Republic article by John B. Judis, Krugman says Nader used to be a "moderate, humane activist," but now he's an "extremist."
Krugman condemns Nader for, among other things, "opposing a bill removing barriers to Africa's exports--a move that Africans themselves welcomed." All Africans? What about Nelson Mandela? He--and many other Africans--did not welcome it. Nor did some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, chief among them Jesse Jackson Jr., Democrat of Illinois. But by cleverly omitting these facts, Krugman paints Nader in a most unflattering light.
He also criticizes Nader for trying to ban the anti-inflammatory drug Feldene, which Krugman personally vouches for. I know several people who don't vouch for it. They're dead.
Fourteen years ago, I happened to write an investigative piece on Feldene for The Progressive. It was entitled "Death by Prescription" (June 1986), and I spoke with relatives of people who took Feldene and died from the excessive bleeding it caused. In its first three years on the market, there were 182 fatal adverse reaction reports to the FDA about Feldene. (It's been on the market now for eighteen years.) But Krugman is not troubled. He says there is a "firm consensus that the drug's benefits outweighed its risks."
All of the Times's assassins shoot at Nader for being against globalization. But they don't do justice to his arguments; typically, they dismiss his case out of hand, as if it's a given that globalization is a good thing. Thus the Times in its editorial blithely asserts, with no backing, that the views of Bush and Gore on globalization and free trade "are better for the wage-earning voters that Mr. Nader claims to represent."
There is precious little debate on globalization and no debate at all on Ralph Nader's Presidential campaign on the op-ed page of the Times, a page that is ostensibly designed for debate.
In fact, the Times has not allowed one nice word to be said about Ralph Nader's Green Party run.
Is this slandering and silencing going to continue all the way into November?
Copyright © 2000 by The Progressive, Madison, WI.