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Politicizing the death of President Gerald Ford

I wish I could say that I’m stunned to see how the media has acted the last week over the death of President Ford [1] but, sadly, I’m not. As I’ll explain below, when they want to advance their pet liberal issues issues, the MSM don’t mind using the death of a Republican president in order to advance it.

When our beloved president Ronald Reagan died on Saturday June 5, 2004 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, the media didn’t waste a second before they began pumping up talk of embryotic stem cell research and how it ‘might have helped’ President Reagan. In this piece [2] the day of President Reagan’s death, CNN quoted extensively from a fundraiser attended by Nancy Reagan the previous month, where the former First Lady touted the possible benefits from the research. And First Lady Laura Bush was asked about her husband’s position on embryotic stem cell research on June 9 in this interview [3] conducted by MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell. Just a few days later, the NYTimes published a full length piece [4] on the Reagan family (with the exception of Michael) [5] and their opposition to the Bush policy on stem cell research. The MSM saturation of news stories on supposed “cures” that embryotic stem cells could come up with reached such a fever pitch, that three days after Reagan’s death, calls by some in Congress [6] – including some Republicans – were being made to “review” the policy put in place by the President that limited federal funding on stem cell research. There are many more examples of the MSM shamelessly making stem cell research the focal point of Ronald Reagan’s death.

Fast forward two and a half years later and the MSM are doing it again, this time over the death of President Ford [7]. It all started late last week after Bob Woodward’s tackily timed piece [8] about Gerald Ford’s alleged stance (revealed to Woodward in July 2004) on the Iraq war was published. The anti-war MSM went wild [9] writing about Ford’s stance, which as it turned out wasn’t as anti-war [10] as Woodward and the WaPo made it out to be. I thought it was wrong for Woodward and the WaPo to publish that piece so soon after Ford’s death, and said so here [11].

The politicizing of Ford’s comments on the Iraq war are continuing to roll in. Media Research documented some examples of absolute chutzpah from members of the MSM on the issue of Ford’s alleged stance on Iraq. Check this out [12] (hat tip: ST reader Ryan [13] – emphasis added):

On Sunday’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Time magazine Washington Bureau Chief Jay Carney called “unpardonable” the late President Gerald Ford’s failure to share with the nation, as well as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld — who worked for him as Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense, respectfully — his discomfort with the decision to go to war in Iraq. “Had he spoke out at the time,” Carney sighed, “it would have had an impact.” This Week opened the roundtable with audio of Gerald Ford in a 2004 interview with Bob Woodward: “I don’t think I would have ordered the Iraqi war. I can understand the theory of wanting to free people. I just don’t think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people unless it is directly related to our own national security.”

Carney’s wife, ABC’s Claire Shipman, echoed what she expressed on Thursday’s Good Morning America (see link below to December 29 CyberAlert) as she scolded Ford for cowardice since “he could have made a real difference” if he had spoken out: “If this was a man who was unafraid to take the hit on something like the pardon [of Nixon], this was a man who had the experience of Vietnam, presiding over the end of the Vietnam war, he clearly felt strongly about what was happening in Iraq, he could have made a real difference if he had decided to speak out.”

Got that? Ford’s decision not to criticize a sitting president in a time of war was inexcusable to Carney and Shipman – but they don’t tell you what type of difference it supposedly would have made. No worry – we know what they meant: Ford’s position on the Iraq war would have made the administration “rethink” their Iraq war strategy in terms of what needed to be done in the future there, or if in fact we still needed to be in Iraq. Apparently to them, the only good former presidents are those who try to act like they still ARE president and who work to undermine the current president’s foreign policies, like Jimmy ‘Hamas isn’t a terrorist group’ Carter [14] and Bill ‘my legacy must be preserved at any costs’ Clinton [15].

I can understand wanting to talk about the life and history of a president. I found nothing wrong with the question posed by many shortly after Ford’s death: the age-old question of should he have pardoned Nixon. What I object to is when the media uses the death of a Republican president to try and advance their hot button issue pet causes within minutes of their deaths. Can’t they give it a few weeks, at least?

Ford simply wouldn’t do the MSM’s bidding on the Iraq war, and for that, he gets scolded mere days after he passes away.

Freaking shameless.

Update: How could I have forgotten how the media will politicize serious health issues and deaths on the Democratic side, too … namely when it might affect the balance of the Senate, of course [16].