TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2004
DIONNE STANDS AND FIGHTS: Three loud cheers for E. J. Dionnes much-needed piece in this mornings Post. The columns headline says it all: Stooping Low to Smear Kerry. At long last, Dionne uses the accurate language which good guy pundits have long eschewedWhite House attacks on Kerry are described as a smear, while House Republicans are called demagogic. Readers, this is the column that wasnt written during the mayhem of Campaign 2000, when good-guy pundits slept at their desks, permitting the two-year smear against Gore which so plainly put Bush in the White House.
We have long admired Dionnes intelligence and decencyand weve long despaired about his lack of fight. Today, he uses accurate language. Its too bad that one of his colleagues still sleeps, expressing those Millionaire Pundit Values which are making a joke of your lives (keep reading).
By the way: We have never done this before. But E. J. Dionnes published address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Dionne needs to hear your congratulationsand he needs to hear that work like this is the duty he owes fellow citizens. A cowardly silence ruled Campaign 2000. This time, scribes must stand and fight.
IGNATIUS EXPLAINS: Then, of course, theres David Ignatius, whose column today rues the press corps failure to foresee current breakdowns in Iraq. The uniformed military privately had serious questions about the Iraq mission, he writes, but these only occasionally made their way into print. Why did the press corps fail to serve? Try to believejust try to believethat a paper like the Post would print this absurd explanation:
IGNATIUS: In a sense, the media were victims of their own professionalism. Because there was little criticism of the war from prominent Democrats and foreign policy analysts, journalistic rules meant we shouldnt create a debate on our own.On what planet are these people found? According to Ignatius, because neither party was blast-faxing warnings, journalistic rules meant that scribes couldnt raise concerns by themselves! (His claim that policy analysts werent voicing concern is so absurd that, as a courtesy, well avert our gaze from the remark.) And by the way, can this astonishing explanation really appear in the Washington Post? We wonder if Woodward and Bernstein had heard of these rulesif they knew that journalists cant report facts until the two parties have sent them a leaflet? Ignatius comment defies comprehensionexcept as a description of the repulsive, dinner-party journalism that has made a sick joke of our lives.
Yes, mainstream journalists occasionally make their Millionaire Pundit Values quite clear. Last Wednesday, President Bush addressed 1,500 newspaper editors and publishers at their annual convention in Washington. According to Elisabeth Bumiller, the titans were moved to applause one time:
BUMILLER: Mr. Bush spoke for 44 minutes to the editors in off-the-cuff remarks that drew on familiar phrases from his speeches of the last two and a half years Mr. Bushs substantive remarks were interrupted only once with applause, when he called for the end of the death tax, or the estate tax.Gaze on the soul of your millionaire press corps! Theyre moved to cheer for only one thingthe repeal of Teddy Roosevelts tax on multimillion-dollar estates. Meanwhile, their professionalism keeps them from raising concerns until the two parties permit them to speak! Why did they bungle the run-up to Iraq? We were just too professional, Ignatius says! Has history ever rewarded a nation which allows such fops to serve in high places? Disaster awaits if these people arent countered. Thats why decent people like E. J. Dionne must stand on their hind legsand fight.
AND TWO SCRIBES PRINT PURE PROPAGANDA: Then there are those who print pure propaganda. Last Wednesday, Nedra Pickler was at it again, reviewing Kerrys military records for the Associated Press. Try to believe that you live in a world where this could be an AP lead paragraph:
PICKLER (pgh 1): Records of John Kerrys Vietnam War service released Wednesday show a highly praised naval officer with an Ivy League education who spoke fluent French and had raced sailboatsthe fruits of a privileged upbringing that set him apart from the typical seaman.Try to believe that you read that! Could anyone believe that this was a sensible summary of Kerrys military records? Of course, spoke fluent French and a privileged upbringing that set him apart are pure, unvarnished RNC spin-pointsthe kind of hack-work Bushs shills present to make a joke of your discourse. But to Pickler, these were the key points in Kerrys records. Amazingly, her editors put this cant on the wireand the Cleveland Plain Dealer, from whom we offer our link, put this pure propaganda into print. Any chance that the Plain Dealers millionaire owners were applauding Bushs statement last week?
Increasingly, you live in a pre-democratic world, in which fops like Ignatius snore at their desks; hacks like Pickler shill for Bush; and the vacuous people who run the press corps cheer thoughts of their own financial gain. Such people have always been at democracys throat, and, of course, they always will be. The Dionnes let them win in Campaign 2000. Its time for some truth-telling now.
By the wayanother shill had her way with Kerrys records, this time in the New York Times. Last Thursday, Katharine Kit Seelye noted some of the ways Kerry was praised by commanders:
SEELYE (pgh 10): When Mr. Kerry was an ensign on the Gridley on his first Vietnam tour in 1967, his commander described him as intelligent, mature and rich in educational background and experience, as well as polished, tactful and outgoing and a brilliant conversationalist.But Seelye always crams those RNC spin-points into the New York Times news reports. Here is the amazing way she prefaced that part of her story:
SEELYE (pgh 9): The military records offered no hint of atrocities, but repeatedly cited Mr. Kerrys initiative in battle and patrician manner.Yes, that really appeared in the Times! No, patrician manner isnt in those recordsbut its high on the list of RNC spin-points. As you know, Seelye propagandized like this against Gore for two years, making an utter joke of her paper. As she did so, good guy scribes said nothing about it. Well explain that a bit more this week.
PAUSE FOR JOKE: We were too professional, Ignatius writes. While you suppress your low, bitter laughter, lets recall the moment when Bush couldnt think of a single mistake. Everyone knows how pols answer that question. My biggest mistake is that Im too honest, any real pol would have said.
RUTENBERG: Republicans have raised the issue to revive accusations by some veterans that the discarding of medals dishonored those who served and died in the war. At the same time, the Republicans have said that Mr. Kerrys explanation of what happened at the ceremony is an example of his proclivity to fall on both sides of every issue.Kerry has a proclivity to fall on both sides of every issue! Its now a primal RNC script (quite similar to scripts that were sold about Gore). As Rutenberg notes, the RNC is pushing it hardand a string of scribes have fallen in line. Result? Theyre parsing a comment made in 1971, helping voters understand John Kerrys Disturbing Proclivity.
How easily are these weak-minded scribes stampeded by the RNCs scripts? Try to believe that George W. Bush, of all human beings, is successfully pushing this issue:
October 2000: In his third debate with Gore, Bush said, I brought Republicans and Democrats together to do just that in the state of Texas, to get a patients bill of rights through. In fact, Bush vetoed the original version of this bill in 1995. In 1997, he allowed a subsequent bill to become law, but refused to sign it. (A veto would have been overridden.) In short, Bush didnt support or even sign the law for which he now was claiming credit! Why, an observer might call such laughably dishonest conduct an example of George Bushs proclivity to fall on both sides of every issue.There we see three ugly (and recent) high-profile examples of a proclivity to fall on both sides of every issue. But in the past few years, youve heard very little about these episodes. In fact, we recently spoke with a talk-show host who didnt know that Bush had ever opposed a Homeland Security Department. Why was this host uninformed? Duh! Because your press corps ruthlessly types treasured scripts. They like to pretend that Kerrys a flipper. They deep-six such conduct by Bush.
For whatever reason, your press corps is now in love with the thought that Kerry has this troubling proclivity. It comes to them straight from the RNC, and theyre head-over-heels in love with the concept. For that reason, they are minutely parsing an ambiguous statement Kerry made 33 years in the past. By contrast, Bushs statements are recent and clearand theyve been sent down the memory hole. Your press corps has been stampeded again, exactly as Rutenberg described. Republicans pushed this silly tale. The liberal press corps, true to recent history, ran to their consoles and typed it.
TOMORROW: Dick and Jane and Bob and Dubya! An incomparable part 2.