Wednesday, September 12, 2007 and New York Times Reach New Low

On Monday, ran an ad in the New York Times titled "General Petraeus or General Betray Us". The ad was a full page ad, and ended with the comment that "...General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us." This was in preparation for the General's testimony before Congress. Since that time, many in the blogosphere and in the conservative news have attacked for the ad. A group of 31 Senators wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asking him to denounce the add.

I had not originally intended to write about this. However, the more I think about this particular ad, the more it bothers me. I believe has a right to present a view in a political debate. And as the General himself said, has a first amendment right to buy ad space and present their opinion. I think that is the General showing he has more character than the collective group over at

We are constantly told by those who “support the troops, but not the war” that it is the lowest of lows for us to question their patriotism. How many articles have been written accusing the President of attacking one Democrat or another’s patriotism? Many times, it has seemed to me that the only thing Democratic law makers hate more than President Bush is to have their patriotism questioned.

And yet, here we have a Democratic political action group who has accused a Four Star General in the United States Military of treason and traitorous behavior.’s add is despicable and should be condemned by members of both parties. The add attempts to disparage the character of General Piraeus without offering any evidence, and with the sole objective of trying to discredit the President’s strategy.

The New York Times also shares some of the blame in this. I am sure there is someone working at the Times who reviews every add before it goes to print. For whatever reason, that individual or group of individuals saw nothing wrong with their paper printing a character attack on a Four Star General in a time of war. has shown its true colors, and the New York Times has shown how much of a “news” paper it is.

I would also challenge the Democrats in Congress to denounce this add. There are 31 signatures on the letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid. I feel confident that at least one of those is a Democrat. Surely the House Democrats can summon up enough courage to get 31 Democrats to send a similar letter to Speaker Pelosi.

Maybe it is time we really examine the “Patriotism” of those who won’t denounce this add.


Brandon said...

It also bothers me that and other liberal blogs have been calling the General General Betray Us for a while now. Basically, they feel that Petraeus is more of a political operator than general at this point, ignoring the fact that it's a general's job to sell his plan to the brass, otherwise he would quickly add retired to his title.

However, I do not see a problem with the Times publishing the ad. Part of free speech involves listening to and/or presenting speech that you personally consider abhorrent or wrong. You could make an argument that the ad perhaps would be better placed in the opinion section of the newspaper, but it deserved to be published.

Kram said...

Andy, I know I don't need to tell you this but, it's a one-way street with Liberals. Their way! They don't like debate unless they are the only one's sitting at the table. They certainly don't want to hear a report that would make our troops look positive in the eyes of the rest of the world, remember, only Liberals can make us look good to the rest of the world.

I have not been able to find documented proof of this, but I have heard that the NYT gave a HUGE price reduction on the ad. I hope, for what credibility remains for the NYT, that they didn't do it. has the right to post their ad, but I think it really brings into question the validity of the NYT being a "news" organization. I'll bet there would be no chance the Swiftboaters would get a price reduction on an ad!

One thing I find kind of funny about the grilling Gen. Petraeus has had to endure.... the Democrats claim that everthing he is reporting is a lie. I believe Hilary claimed his report to be a "disbelievable truth." My interpretation of that is, "you're lieing." Well, I thought it was illegal to tell a lie to Congress when under oath, am I wrong? If what he is telling us is such a "disbelievable truth." Then why doesn't Harry and Crew throw his butt in jail? Or, could he really be right but they have to play politics for their constituents who aren't able to see through the smoke screen??

Andy D said...

Brandon, I respectfully disagree with one sentence. You said, “Part of free speech involves listening to and / or presenting speech that you personally consider abhorrent or wrong.” I believe that is wrong. Free speech gives you the right to say in a public forum what you want (within certain boundaries). The First Amendment does not guarantee you an audience.

Take this blog for example. I have the protected rights to say anything I want, and I exercise that her e on this site. However, the first amendment does not guarantee that anyone will read this blog. If I wanted the New York Times to run my blog post above where I criticize them, I can send the article to them, and even offer to pay them to publish it. However, the New York Times, as a business, can make any decision it wants regarding what of my post it publishes. It can chose to publish part of it, all of it, or none of it. However, no where am I guaranteed that they will post any of it.

Similarly, can submit any ad to the Times it wants to. The Times can decide to publish it, not publish it, or (as has been speculated) give a discount and publish it. That is the Times right, and I don’t dispute it. However, much as I wouldn’t expect the Times to promote a KKK rally, I wouldn’t expect the Times to publish an attack ad against a Four Star General in a time of war. I think it is repulsive.

Kram, I have seen reports that the NY Times gave approximately a 50% discount. I don’t know if it is true or not, but I have seen it reported in a few places. To me, this makes the New York Times collaborators in this attack.

Andy D said...

According to the The New York Post, got around a 64% discount for their ad attacking General Petraeus. The bullet point comes from here:

A spokesman for confirmed to The Post that the liberal activist group had paid only $65,000 for the ad - a reduction of more than $116,000 from the stated rate.
A Post reporter who called the Times advertising department yesterday without identifying himself was quoted a price of $167,000 for a full-page black-and-white ad on a Monday.

I feel this more than puts the New York Times in the same boat as

familyman said...

Andy, I'm kind of on the fence with this ad. On one hand of course, MoveOn has the right to say anything they want. And people have the right to agree or disagree.

There's another part of me that just thinks it's a bad ad and in bad taste. And there are many things MoveOn could have done that would have made their point without being so polarizing.

Now, as for your post, it's hard for me to listen to you getting on someone else's case for playing the patriotism card when you've done the same thing yourself. You've as much as said that Democratic congressmen were traitors for publicly opposing President Bush's war policies.

As for Petraeus, he shouldn't even be put in this position in the first place. He's a soldier, not a policy maker. I think it's cowardly of Bush to put Petraeus up there to debate policy, strategy and tactics with the congress.

Brandon said...


It was not my intent to imply that you are guaranteed an audience, only the right to speak whatever is on your mind, unless it crosses over to the small area of prohibited speech.

As for the Times promoting the KKK rally, they would likely have to accept the ad, otherwise a court order would force them to run the ad. You cannot only support causes that you agree with in the press, even if sometimes the right thing to do would be turn down the money and the ad.

Andy D said...

Family, don’t get me wrong, I think had the right to say everything in that ad. However, I also think it was in incredibly poor taste, and it crosses a moral boundary. I don’t think it should be against the law, I do think it exposes this group for what they really are.

I think you bring up a fair point. I have questioned Democratic leader’s patriotism in the past, and I have accused them of betraying the American people. I have done this because I feel the Democratic Senators and Representatives were aiding our enemies in a time of war. However, to accuse the Commander of our forces in Iraq of betraying the American people before you hear his testimony, and simply because he is going to say things you don’t like goes beyond what I have done.

Brandon, I think you make my point for me. You and I both agree that you have the right to speak whatever you want, with minor exception. The Times is a private business. It can ran whatever ads it wants. If it doesn’t want to run ads from store “X”, it shouldn’t have to. If a particular group wants to buy ad space, and the Times doesn’t want to sell it to them that should be their decision to make. We aren’t talking about reporting news, we are talking about selling ad space. The Times decides what political commentary it wants to run in its editorial space all the time. By running the add, and by giving such a heavy discount, I believe the New York Times agrees with the ad.

Andy D said...

We see an experiment in the making.

Rudy Giuliani has called on the New York Times to give him and other Republicans the same discounted rate they gave This discount would be so that Giuliani could run a rebuttal to the Moveon ad. Here is a partial transcript from The Weekly Standard Blog:

"I call upon the New York Times to give us the same rate--the heavily discounted rate--they gave for that abominable ad, that was in a very, very coincidental way published on the same day that General Petraeus testified, in which, which is well known for its character assassination of Republicans, decided to participate in character assasination of an American general in a time of war. This is unprecedented. And we are going to ask the New York Times to allow us tomorrow to print an ad that will obviously take the opposite view. We believe, unlike Hillary Clinton, that General Petraeus is telling the truth. We think that her attack on General Petraeus was a follow-up to the attack. I'll tell you what she said, it's pretty simple, you go interpret it, because it's typical--how can I say this in the kindest way about the Clintons--not the most direct way of saying what it is you are trying to say....

familyman said...

Kram said "Andy, I know I don't need to tell you this but, it's a one-way street with Liberals. Their way! They don't like debate unless they are the only one's sitting at the table."

Is that opposed to Conservatives who always weigh the other sides comments carefully and are ready to compromise at the drop of a hat?

You may disagree with liberals, but to say it's a one-way street with liberals, and implying that it's not just a one way street in the other direction with conservatives is ridiculous.

Kram said...

Familyman, I was waiting on a comment about that from someone. My overall experience in trying to discuss issues with Liberals has been that they won't debate them. They have their view and that's the way it is. Even before the General went before Congress he was attacked by Liberals. They didn't want to hear what he had to say.

Conservatives are much more open minded and willing to listen to opposing views. I think most mainstream media outlets prove my point. They usually show one side of a story or issue. It just so happens to be their side. A news organization should present both sides of a story and let the viewers or readers decide.

Anonymous said...

Kram: it's interesting to hear conservatives now using the *liberal* idea that more voices should be tolerated and respected in a debate.

On my university campus, conservatives now cry foul if we don't tell "both sides" of the slavery issue. Seriously, some of them say that we liberals focus too much on the voices of slaves. They want us to tell the "other side of the story": the "happy" side of slavery.

I'm fine with acknowledging that some slave owners and some types of slavery are worse than others, but some conservatives clearly want to make *slavery itself* a morally ambiguous issue. "Hey," they say, "it all depends on your perspective."

That's taking the liberal desire to hear different perspectives and twisting it into an excuse for slavery.

Am I intolerant of slavery? Yes. I hope you are too.

By the way, I think the "General Betray-Us" ad was dumb and unproductively insulting. Just as much as "Defeatocrats" etc.

What I want to point out here is that the label "intolerant" is not always necessarily an insult. To be against lies, or slavery, or unjust war and *not to tolerate it* seems like a fine character trait to me.

Andy D said...

For the most part, conservatives and Republicans are always open to debate. There are exceptions to every rule. I consider myself both a conservative and a Republican, and I started this site because I believe that when people stop and think through issues, nine times out of ten, they will disagree with the position of the modern Democratic Party.

I have read and studied a lot of civil war history. I can't think of a defense to slavery in a modern world. I would be more than happy to debate than with anyone, I just don't see it.

Kram said...

Anon, I couldn't agree more, slavery is intolerable.

I agree with Andy, there are always exceptions. I only stated my experience with Liberals. I know some conservatives that are not very open to discussing issues either. However, it seems to me that Liberals have become less "tolerant" of opposing view points.

Anonymous said...

As a liberal, here's my take.

I think you conservatives typically ignore, ridicule, distort, and silence these sorts of voices: future generations, poor people, people of color, women. Those who are not rich white men or their supporters.

I see evidence of that in the global warming "debate" on this site: the voices of poor people being flooded out of their homes *right now* are ridiculed (e.g. "why don't they move?"), and the threat to future generations is dismissed (e.g."we don't know *for sure* that their croplands will turn to desert!").

The voices that you seems to listen to and repeat are the PR voices (scientific or otherwise) hired by or dogmatically devoted to big rich corporations. Exxon, CEI, Hudson Institute, Limbaugh, etc.

I happen to be a rich white guy. But I've hung out with enough people who aren't like me to recognize that their voices count, and that others have a lot to teach me.

Plenty of my friends are rich white guys too and I think their voices count also. Just as much as anybody else's. But, in terms of our national conversation, it's pretty clear to me whose perspective isn't really heard and understood very often. And, frankly, I do believe that those who are more physically endangered (especially the poor), deserve an urgent and attentive hearing. Just like the EMS squad has the other traffic pull over: the guy going to the dry cleaner isn't as "important" as the person going to the ER.

So while I agree that the ad that started this conversation was dumb and insulting, I don't worry too much that the voice of the generals is about to be drowned out by the millions of victims of the Iraq war (U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens). In fact, it is the voices and the perspective of the wounded and killed people in the Iraq war that are the ones that are silenced, censored, and most often insulted and ridiculed.

But you may see it differently...

familyman said...

Anon - Very well said.

Kram and Andy - You two may be open to debate and discussion, but don't project your own attitudes onto the people in Congress. Until last November, we lived through 6 years of the conservative Republican Congress completely shutting down any kind of meaningful debate or oversight. While they were the majority, the last thing theRepublicans were doing was fostering a two-way conversation of the issues.

familyman said...

Getting back to the original issue of the ad, I think Arianna Huffington said it very well in her column Yesterday -

"Does anybody really believe the problem with the war in Iraq is too much questioning of those in authority, too much bluntness, and not enough deference to those who have been in charge of the war for the last four years?"

Anonymous said...

Liberals attacked Katie Couric for her reports on Iraq simply because they did not like what she said. There was no evidence she misreported anything. Then they claimed victory when she admitted that she saw only what she was allowed to see. Isn't that the same for everyone? What evidence is there to counter what she reported? Liberal media would have you believe they are the only ones reporting the "truth."

At the same time, on the other side, Fox News talking heads claimed that the overwhelming votes for Ron Paul after the debate was from people redialing their votes. First of all, redials are not allowed. If you tried to call again from the same phone, your vote was rejected. Secondly, that implies that ONLY Ron Paul supporters would redial if given the opportunity.

So, I look at both sides and am sickened by the bias. It seems to be a battle over which party can win, rather than what is best for the people.

Anonymous said...

phlembol uses military censorship as an argument against liberals ?!

Andy D said...

I think his argument isn't military censorship, but that liberals attacked Mrs. Couric when she reported something the liberals didn't like.

Anonymous said...

The only party that is willing to debate is the party NOT in the majority.

familyman said...

Saint - Ha Ha. Exactly!

Anonymous said...

So, Andy, will you denounce Rush, now that he's publicly called soldiers--including some who have been killed in action--"phony soldiers"? Or is it actually OK to trash the patriotism of soldiers you don't agree with?

One "phony soldier" posted a great response to Limbaugh here.

Andy D said...

No I won't denounce Rush. You didn't even read or hear the full context did you? He wasn't calling soldiers opposed to the war phony. He was calling soldiers who claim to be soldiers (but arn't) phony. Should I expect an apology from you regarding this?

Anonymous said...

This is Limbaugh's comment:

CALLER: ...They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and talk to the media.

LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.... They joined to be in Iraq... Well, you know where you're going these days, the last four years, if you signed up. The odds are you're going there or Afghanistan or somewhere.

So Andy, how is it that somebody who signed up and was sent to Iraq is "not a soldier"?

Whatever Limbaugh talked about later in the program, he was here talking about "soldiers" in "the media" who disagree with the war--and there have been *a lot* of them lately.

After he got busted, Limbaugh claimed: "I was talking about one soldier."

If that's the case, why did he use the plural instead of the singular? That would be a simple thing to apologize for. But he hasn't apologized for that. I'll take him at his word: "soldiers," plural.

Andy D said...

In your honor, I have now written an entire post about this. Go check it out. If you don't feel it answers your comment, leave another comment there.

In that post, I mention more than one "phony soldier". That should help with your plural.