Jumping the GunThe Sun's Nov. 7 pre-election front-page...


November 12, 1994

Jumping the Gun

The Sun's Nov. 7 pre-election front-page story, "GOP seems poised to take control of House, Senate," is a textbook example of how the media mishandle politics. Two cardinal sins were committed.

First, the headline's large type and prominent placement created the impression that the election results were already known before the polls had opened.

If every paper in the country ran a headline as speculative as this one, then many voters already indifferent to their civic privilege would probably feel justified in not voting. Why bother if it's a done deal?

The second sin was The Sun's over-reliance on pollsters -- an all-too-common phenomenon in contemporary political reporting.

When will it dawn on editors and reporters that survey data is not hard news? That speculative statistics are not the same as facts?

The inherent contradiction in this approach is evident in the meek subhead that accompanies this article: "Outcome is in doubt, though national polls show strong support."

Well, you cannot have it both ways. Report on the candidates, the issues, the mudslinging, if you like. But don't second-guess the voters.

Amy L. Bernstein


Disarming Nukes

In your Oct. 21 editorial, "The North Korean Nuclear Accord," you express understandable concern about the good deal that the Pyongyang regime was able to get -- particularly with respect to the kind of message this would be giving to "other would-be nuclear powers."

In the framework of your recognition of the critical importance of the renewal and strengthening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995, we suggest the need for much greater concern about the message being sent to the rest of the world by the Clinton administration's decision for continued reliance on nuclear weapons.

Not too long ago, Colin Powell advised the Third World that nuclear weapons " . . . were a wasted investment in military capability that is limited in political or military utility."

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has stayed enthralled by a weapon that can best be described as both suicidal and genocidal in its production, presence and potential.

We can not expect the rest of the world to take seriously our advocacy of nuclear non-proliferation when these weapons remain at the center of our own defense planning.

At the inception of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the existing nuclear powers committed themselves to work for nuclear disarmament.

Precious little progress has been made in this regard when our arsenals still contain thousands of weapons. We agree with you: "But it is now more important than ever that the Non-Proliferation Treaty be renewed next year . . . " But the focus of this commitment needs to be inward if we hope to end this madness.

One year ago, you wrote, "Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is the most troubling problem in the world today . . . "

May the public be blessed with perceiving the truth of your analysis, so that one day we may more earnestly follow the Psalmist's injunction: "Seek peace, and pursue it."

Rev. Edward Heim


The writer is the chairman of the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council's Interfaith Coalition for Peace.

Nasty Column

The column by former Reagan-Bush crony Jeane Kirkpatrick (Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 1) has to be one for the most mean-spirited to appear in a very long time. Her summary dismissal of each of President Clinton's foreign policy achievements can be nothing more than another politically-motivated Republican attempt to discredit everything that this president has accomplished.

I firmly believe that Clinton did the right thing in Haiti and that it was done with great skill. I do not feel any need to demonstrate that establishing democracy in Haiti is directly tied to vital U.S. national interests. There are hemispherical and global interests that are just as vital. The fact that Haiti is the most environmentally degraded country in the hemisphere is reason enough for us to have become involved in their affairs. Of course one doesn't expect Republicans to show concern for the environment; their record on that score speaks volumes.

When such blatantly political material is printed on the editorial pages, just before a very important election, rebuttal space should be provided on the same page and the strong party affiliation of the writer ought to be detailed.

John S. White

Stewartstown, Pa.

Excellent Words

As readers daily sift through the op-ed and editorial pages of The Sun, it is rare that one sees more than commentary on the moment. Most columns fail to offer anything but a brief slant on the nonsense of the day.

Oct. 30 was an exception. Peter Jay's excellent few words condensed the last 40 years in a nutshell. I can't imagine a better way of portraying the decline of America in both the arts and industry.

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