The [Friday] Papers
ABC News political director Mark Halperin was on Charlie Rose last night explaining that, sure, John Kerry didn't say what he was accused of saying, and no honest, serious person believes that he did. Nonetheless, Halperin argued, Kerry got what he deserved because he failed to properly manage the media's reporting of what was never true in the first place.
That's where we're at, folks.
The truth doesn't matter; managing the spin does. And when the media blindly buys into one party's spin instead of doing their job and vetting political claims, it is incumbent on targets of spin to satisfy these dimwits by doing things like apologizing in just the way reporters demand for what the reporters reporting the apology know was an offense that never actually occurred. But reporters now operate on the playing field of political strategists - the most cyncial creatures on the planet - instead of dragging the vipers onto the playing field of journalism and giving them the shellacking they deserve.
Similarly, Newsweek's chief political correspondent, Howard Fineman, laughed his head off this week at the suggestion that President Bush or anyone in the White House actually believed Kerry said what they accused him of saying. Of course not, Fineman said, but that's not the point.
I happen to believe it is.
If politics is a House of Mirrors, so be it - that just makes it even more incumbent on journalists to be hell-bent on getting and presenting the truth. Now large chunks of America will never know the truth in this case - just as folks still believe Al Gore said he invented the Internet and that Bill Clinton held up air traffic at LAX to get a haircut and Dan Quayle didn't know how to spell potato (he was reading off the answer card given to him) and George H. W. Bush didn't know what a grocery scanner was.
Those guys aren't the idiots. The idiots are people like Neil Steinberg, who doesn't know the first thing about politics or John Kerry's history as a genuine war hero and how he's handled it all these years, and people like Steve Huntley, who finagle their way into influential positions without any particular skill or insight to deserve them and write bizarre stream-of-consciousness columns like this one filled with outright falsehood and folly.
Halperin himself calls this media phenomenon The Freak Show.
The truth of the matter is that the White House and national party leaders and the national press corps all know it is a game. In the end, you all get played for rubes - which at least isn't as bad as being one of the fools unwittingly drafted into rube-playing business, like Steinberg and Huntley.
Choose from among the following punch lines:
A) Unlike Kerry, who graduated from Yale and got his law degree from Boston College. What an idiot!
B) Though, truth to be told, the longer acronym for the MBA program he went through is MBAFCMI - for My Bad Ass Father Clouted Me In.
C) How does that explain Bush, then, who went to Yale and got his MBA at Harvard?
Mission Really Looks Like Fun!
"Bush doesn't really need to underline his commander-in-chief chops - the Iraq War did that nicely," Steinberg wrote back then. "Rather, I believe, he chose to arrive on the Abraham Lincoln the way he did because it seemed like a hoot."
A Better Question
I don't know, can it turn around a failing newspaper?
It's a Two-fer!
Letters to Their Editor
Here's a better idea: Advise your reporters to fact-check every claim put forth in political advertising, and put the results on your front page, even if it means calling liars liars.
Answer: Not only is Rod Blagojevich's name missing, but it's disingenuous to give the impression that all of those newspapers endorsed all of those candidates - particularly Todd Stroger.
"The [Washington] Post article on the affair described its spread this way: 'The White House and Republican allies orchestrated a cascade of denunciations throughout the day to keep the once and possibly future presidential candidate on the defensive and force other Democrats to distance themselves.'
"What about the fact that these "denunciations" were picked up by the press and treated as a substantial story?
"To describe the Kerry kerfuffle passively - 'much of the day's political conversation centered on Kerry,' wrote the Post - is a guileless way of absolving journalists from any role in the story at all.
"Ironically, many of the articles on the Kerry slip-up were written as 'meta' analyses. Not wanting to deign to reprint blatant exaggerations by one side or another, the respectable press opts for writing stories about the fact that blatant exaggerations are being hurled from one side or another. Such an article might have been a good place to describe the press's role. But no.
"Take today's [New York] Times' 'Political Memo.' This is the closest we get to an admission of involvement: 'The White House, which had been struggling for ways to make President Bush less of a liability in the election, seized on Mr. Kerry's comments, with the president, vice president and spokesmen blanketing radio and television to blast him for impugning the troops.' (Note the absence of newspapers in that list of the culpable.)"
The Beachwood Tip Line: Do your homework; don't get stuck.
Posted on November 3, 2006
© 2006 - 2017, The Beachwood Media Company