FREDERICK -- Oliver L. North told about 500 Republicans here last night not to pay attention to "jackals and sharks" in the news media who "invade our privacy and defame our reputations."
Mr. North's stinging denunciation of the media in general and the Baltimore Sun in particular was in defense of U.S. Senate candidate Alan L. Keyes. The Sun reported this week that Mr. Keyes has been drawing $8,500 a month in salary from his campaign fund.
The retired Marine lieutenant colonel and former White House aide, whose conviction in the Iran-contra scandal was overturned, told last night's friendly audience that incumbent Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is campaigning at a salary of $10,000 a month being provided by the taxpayers.
"If only Alan had been a congressman, he wouldn't have had to take the $8,500. He could have simply bounced a check," Mr. North said.
He received standing applause when he was introduced to the crowd at Frederick County's annual Lincoln Day Dinner. He said the election of Mr. Keyes and 6th District congressional candidate Roscoe Bartlett would help crumble the "permanent political aristocracy we have become so inured to and return us to a nation of values."
The Democratic governors of Maryland and Virginia have demonstrated that a system of professional politicians won't work, Mr. North contended.
Mr. Keyes and Mr. Bartlett are not politicians, he said. "Politicians have been running things and they have been running them amok," Mr. North said. "I would hope you would choose now to restore a two-party system and a resurgence of the real values that Abraham Lincoln believed in."
Mr. Keyes and Mr. Bartlett "are the kinds of people we want representing us. . . . If we fail to find enough good men like these, we will forfeit the future," Mr. North said. "What we do in this election will not set the course for the next four or six years, it's going to set the agenda for next millennia. . . . We need to protect our people from government -- not our government from godly people."
About 80 people had paid $100 each to attend a reception for Mr. Keyes before the dinner. Sean Paige, the Keyes campaign manager, said people at the reception here as well as elsewhere in the state have been "very supportive" of Mr. Keyes following the disclosure of his campaign salary.
"In the last two days, we've averaged 12 calls a day -- two are the traditional non-supporters, two or three wanted to offer money, and the rest were concerned but supportive," Mr. Paige said. "They felt they have not been getting the full story."
"People don't mind supporting Alan," he said. "They know they are investing in a crusade for the future of the country when they are investing in Alan Keyes."
He added: "People are coming to realize the power of incumbency and what it takes for a regular guy like Alan Keyes to run. He is not a millionaire and is not sitting on a mountain of patronage."
At the dinner, Mr. Keyes told the crowd that eventually the news media "will come in for judgment it so richly deserves."
He described members of the press as sharks who will not tell the public the truth about the Democratic Party.
As for his salary, he said The Sun does not know the difference between a free man and a slave.
"What is at stake is my home, my family, my car," the candidate said privately. "My supporters very well understand that I have to eat and house my family."