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Thursday, February 03, 2005



Marc, this is a very powerful posting. I shall direct many people to read this.

"In a nutshell, this administration plain scorns the intelligence of the American people, preferring to govern by fear rather than by reason."

This says it - in a nutshell. Thank you for this.

too many steves

Clearly, to me, President Bush lacks confidence in his ability to communicate his message in an unstructured environment that he considers to be hostile to him or his plans for the government. He is gambling that silence is least damaging to his agenda in the long term. Of course, this leaves him wide open to the questioning of his intentions and motivations.

Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton didn't lack in confidence in this area. Ford and Carter weren't self-aware enough to lack confidence. Nixon... well that's a whole 'nother subject. And Bush I was just, well, just, ah, shit, words fail me at the moment.

We need transparency. Good ideas and motives aren't afraid about the glaring light of day.


"but then again some people think it was the Commies who put fluoride in the water."

I'm pretty sure they didn't do it in large numbers, but I'm sure some of them did it. I knew a number of Communists in my day who said that they often wondered what it would take to get the American people to be shaken out of their unconscious stupor. I don't doubt that with the large number of people who believe this that it has to be true to some extent.

jim hitchcock

"I knew a number of Communists in my day who said that they often wondered what it would take to get the American people to be shaken out of their unconscious stupor"

Well, surely they knew the true path to enlightment for the masses was to put LSD in the resevoirs.

One has only to listen to the William Shatner version of `Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' to realize what an awakening that would have

Tom Grey - Liberty Dad

Sorry Marc, Reagan was the "great Communicator", not W.

When you can show me that the LAT is willing to ask and probe as to the truth about why Kerry did NOT sign Form 180, maybe you'll have a better point. Notice on the first debate, ALL the questions were implicitly against Bush, not one was a question about the alternative.

In the press conferences he has given, the press has been pretty insistent on questions of the form; "given this mistake, shouldn't you apologize"... blah blah.

You fall into this trap yourself:
"As to the administration’s utter failure in Iraq"

Less than 2500 Americans have died, and in less than two years Iraq has had the most free election of any Islamic Arab country.

Clinton was an utter failure in foreign policy -- Bush has been pretty OK; his Iraq policy has been spetacular.

Be happy about Iraq.

Be unhappy he, and the UN, and the EU, are allowing genocide in Sudan. THERE is an "utter failure" of the world -- worse, in slow motion, than Rwanda. Of course, Bush is the most honest about calling it genocide, the others follow a "talk first, then more talk, then more talk ... (17 times)... then apologize (too late!)".

Marc Davidson

The president may feel justified in his strategy to ignore, marginalize, and manipulate the press. The press is going through some hard times getting its own act together, but its biggest challenge is that there seems to be little support from the public for a free press in the first place.
A new study commissioned by the Knight Foundation (Knight-Ridder) finds that a third of high school students thinks the First Amendment goes too far. Half believe the government can censor the Internet. Only 68% believe the government should not be able to restrict controversial speech.
What are these kids learning in civics classes? What does this say about their own parents views on these issues?
This does not bode well for the future of our democracy.


Really... This is very petty.

Well, I wrote Bush a letter and he never answered it. Should I be offended and outraged? Give me a break.

The LA Times isn't entitled to any more special treatment than other publications. Based upon its track record of twisting information to suit its liberal agenda, I would not reward the paper with an exclusive interview; and, I think that our President can do better things with his time.

I have no problem of obtaining enough news from the White House as it is.

This is only worth discussing by people who already hate Bush, so count this posts as 1 through 3.


> When you shut out the press, you shut out
> public scrutiny and accountability.
> If you think THAT is a good idea—then you
> really should consider moving to Pyongyang

Marc, this nakedly surrenders the responsibility of the press to do their job. If Dubya was really pulling a fast one this way --and I've never heard anyone outside of media circles complain about it-- the press could strike back by DOING THEIR JOBS. OF course, many dollars could be shaved in shoe leather, and many beads of sweat could stay off the foreheads of reporters, if they could simply walk up to people in public life and demand concilliatory rhetoric and insight. That's not going to happen. Our political system is built on competition and contention. The greater problem for a properly contrary press is that they can't seem to find the energy, or the angles, that will make this administration's sins apparent to their readership.

The failure is much their own.


Wow, when I read Shafer's article, my jaw literally dropped when I read this quote:

"Two years ago, an unnamed Bush aide told Suskind, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.""

Speaks volumes.


Oh no! Not the dreaded 'unnamed Bush aide!' There you are ... proof positive that President Bush is a bloody-handed megalomaniac tyrant. He probably eats babies, too.



It appears that Kim Jong Il is the new Hitler*.

And is black the new black, or is it black? Vogue magazine - fashion fascists down to the last scrap of Prada.

*From an unnamed Bush aide.


And also,

When you have run out of Hitler references for the GOP, and Kim Jong Il just doesn't do it for you: "Bush: Klingon warlord."

Ok, sorry. Having fun. He should give an interview to the LA Times. If a softly lit, starry eyed interview with Sean Hannity is on the cards, then anything should be possible.


I'm no journalist, so I don't purport to know the protocol regarding the use of unnamed sources. As a natural skeptic, I understand skeptical responses to the quote in my last post. I assumed journalists know their trade, however, and wouldn't use unnamed sources if it were considered a poison pill. But to the journalistically enlightened: is it really considered a faux pas to use an unnamed source?


"He probably eats babies, too."

No, that's Cheney.

Marc Davidson

Does any one of you Bush defenders here think that the government should be accountable to the people? If the government marginalizes the media, then the major avenue for communication with the public is disrupted. The alternative becomes government propaganda through official spokespeople or through government friendly private media outlets. This situation would be anathema to a free and open society. Can you understand this?
The fact that the press asks difficult questions or criticizes the president does not justify shutting the offending reporter's access down. The president should be able to handle it. He is, after all, serving the people, we hope.


Who needs the truth when you got moral character?


The only time I was interviewed by a reporter (for a throwaway medical journal) the first sentence of the article read as if I was in New Orleans, at the conference I was being asked about. I was interviewed from my office in Chicago. My mother read the thing online a few years later. "When were you in New Orleans?" Um, never, Mom. I thought it was cute, personally. I was supposed to present a poster at a conference and didn't go. The resident on the poster went instead. I don't remember if I told the reporter I was going or not, but it was written in first-personese. Dr. So and so says such and such from the Blah Blah medical conference. I thought she made an honest mistake. I think that happens from time to time. I am not a journalist-basher. It's a hard job and most do a good job. I'm sure you have to use unamed sources for certain stories, especially if people are afraid to give their names.

I think, and I'm not being sarcastic, that we should have a Question time like they do in Britain, and we could add questions from bloggers, etc, to the standard opposition rhetorical points. Can you imagine our verbally constipated politicians doing a question time?

The President should give interviews to as wide a variety of news sources as he can. It's just that I don't think this tightly controlled administration (which is not to it's credit) is quite up to Kim Jong Il's standards.

Mavis Beacon

The legacy media is facing power assaults on two fronts – The first is the Bush admin and Marc talks a lot about that in his superb post. The second assault comes from The People. Whatever the reason, the legacy media is less popular and people like Woody don’t give a shit if the President of the United States tells the LA Times to go to hell. In his mind, we can just get that info elsewhere. I think that’s not true. Even with the web’s gift of decentralized reporting I find I rely on the legacy media for my Washington info. More tellingly, Woody doubts the veracity of reporters at the LA Times. Woody identifies more with George Bush than the average reporter, and more importantly, than the aggregate wisdom of reporters. I happen to think that is insane. However neatly your views dovetail with a sitting president, congressman, or mayor, it is impossible to imagine her preferred image matches the truth. And I can’t imagine genuinely wanting to give any leader’s PR department a free pass.


Are you the REAL Mavis Beacon? Do you type your commemts really fast?


Are you the REAL Mavis Beacon? Do you type your commemts really fast?


The "unnamed source" angle is generally the only way reporters can get answeres to certain questions from the White House and other agencies. It's used fairly relentlessly to control the message getting to the press - it allows for stuff to be passed into the media without anyone taking any responsibility for it. Sometimes it's a way for an insider to register some dissent from the party line (although I think that one is usually framed differently - "refused to be identified" or "requested anonymity" is a clue that the view is contrarian. "Unnamed sources" is the proper form for official background information that they don't want to have haunt them by being on the official record.) But without using this channel, journalists would get even less info than they do. They'd mostly be stuck with McClellan's Morning Dodgeball and Talking Press Release.

(Marc - correct me if I'm wrong.)

Also, I think that any reference to Kim Il Jong as the new Hitler is - if any such thing is possible - an insult to Hitler. Whatever else one may say about that madman, he had a plan, some core beliefs and - although it's not something one wants to go on about in polite company - a fairly rational economic program, the political and moral context aside. Hitler's racial and nationalist megalomania were the sources of his greatest evil and ultimately of his own destruction. Hitler was dangerous precisely because his grandiosity was linked to what has to be acknowledged as insight and ability, twisted though it obviously was. Pulling a nation out of depression and building a precision war machine doesn't happen by accident. Kim Il Jong may have a large army and some rudimentary nukes, but he's not a political or economic force in Asia - except as a guy holding a grenade - and his only principle is personal dynastic preservation. His sole military and political strategy is based on his not wanting to actually risk anything, including being toppled for monumental incompetence by his own people. Hitler was rather awesomely dangerous because he had a maniacal vision for which he was willing to risk everything, even what he had successfully built in Germany itself.

Weird post...tangential as all hell...hope it doesn't ruin anybody's day. But if you can't actually contemplate what drives the varieties of evil dictators and their actual circumstances, one is reduced to quixotic, strategically incoherent responses (as in "quess where"). And MD - please don't hesitate to make funny quips in the future out of fear that it will trigger another exercise in boring you to tears with pretentious ruminations on my part. Oh...also since the subject - sort of - of Hitler and fashion came up, I had no idea until I read a WaPo column today by Anne Applebuam that Phillip Johnson actually followed the German army into Poland and apparently approved of what he saw. What an execrable piece of shit. No wonder his buildings were so soulless.


sorry...that's "Kim Jong Il"

"Who needs the truth when you got moral character?"

Who needs truth when ya got myths?

too many steves

Excellent post reg, even if it is tangential. Although I have to say the phrase "execrable piece of shit" strikes me as redundant. :-)

This whole press access bit is a problem. I'm sympathetic to the notion that good reporting - thinking back to the post from a few days ago too - is the result of hard, tedious work. Checking sources, making phone calls, and doggedly chasing down new leads and sources. I'm not in that business so I don't know how much of that goes on these days and I don't know if the fabled reporters of the past (Woodward and Bernstein) are even an accurate example of the way the world of the Press was and should be. Just don't know.

Here is the paradox: whether the topic is sports or politics or business, the reporters that get the good stories are the ones who can get close to the subject of the reporting; in order to get close to the subject of the reporting they need access; in order to secure access the subject needs to believe that they will be treated well (I don't think an expectation of being treated fairly is enough), so the reporter ends up coloring the reporting in order to curry favor with the subject for fear of losing access. End result: a steady stream of puff pieces from the usual sources and critical pieces that rely too heavily on conjecture and the "unnamed source" who just might have an axe to grind.

Can hard scrabble, old tyme reporting techniques solve this problem? Are there reporters out there willing to take the chance?

Publius Rex

Broadly speaking, I think the case that Bush does not interact enough with the media is one that holds some water. I don't think it carries enough water, though, to make the conclusion that Bush is not "accountable to the people." As long as mid-term elections remain tied, even loosely, to Presidential performance and we continue to have Presidential elections every 4 years, this or any other President is just as accountable as any other. The exact number of pressers and exclusive interviews a President grants is mostly a matter of style, IMO. Surely, no one is going to make the argument that they do not know where Bush stands or that there is not enough criticism of it.

As for Marc's comments about the LA Times, in particular, he is a newspaper man and it seems that his perspective is that the President should pay more attention to the medium. That is perfectly understandable. However, modern politics is not played in the print media any longer, it's a TV sport now.

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