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Thursday, February 03, 2005


Marc Davidson

I would offer Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker as an example of a good journalist, uncomporomising but with good connections to all the dark corners of government.
Judith Miller of the NYT, among others, would be his antithesis, seriously compromised by her relationships with her sources.


Note to "too many" - yeah, it's repetitively redundant.


I am not being snide but why is the president "required", "obligated", or even "supposed" to give interviews or even press conferences to a select section of our society? Why do journalists such as Jack Shafer think that they are entitled to a section of the president’s time, other then being a citizen of the US?

I think the MSM has tried to set itself up as the new nobility. They communicate what is to be discussed in public forum and what is to be ignored. They can condemn you or pardon you all with a simple printing of a story. The desire to validate actions or to claim they are of no consequence reeks of "I am better then thou" type attitude one associates with concepts of noblity. I also think blogs such as this are successful because the MSM has tried to control the public debate.

As for being accountable to the people, we have elections every 4 years, the ability to censure, the ability to impeach, and prosecute for criminal offenses. Why do we need an unelected body of journalists to participate in the “checks and balances” when journalists cant even police their own?

Green Dem

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

You're so polite Marc. There is of course a word to describe people who engage in this type of behavior. They are demagogues. I can think of a few others, but I wouldn't want to upset the children (think of the children!)

And with respect to Mr. Bush not sitting down for an interview with the LA Times, I think it says as much about the Washington establishment's view of LA, California, and the west in general (and the long tradition of ignoring the west) as it does about this president's dictator complex. For the Washington political establishment, California is little more than a place to rhetorically flog as decadent and un-American (particularly our culture industry, which creates many, many thousands of jobs and tens of billions in revenues every year), meanwhile taking the tax dollars produced by our vibrant economy and redistributing them disproportionately to people who claim to hate government and government services. The east coast media establishment does its best to ignore, ridicule, or exoticize us. If California were to secede it would be one of the ten wealthiest nations on the planet, and nearly self-sufficient. Washington should not forget this.

Michael J. Totten

I also am annoyed that Bush steers clear of the press. He's the president, for God's sake.

But I understand why he does it. He's just plain awful in public. (Even the most fawning Bush admirer must be aware of this fact on some supressed level.) And it would be politically stupid of him to put himself out there. All politicians make calculations like these. They do what will help them and eschew what will hurt them.

The press isn't very kind to him, either. Of course it's not their *job* to be kind to him. This isn't Syria.

I'm not excusing, just explaining. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't think arrogance is the problem here. Rather, it's Bush's survival instinct.


"But I understand why he does it. He's just plain awful in public. "

I think there's more to it than that. It plays well with his base [or part of his base, his real base is, like Democratic Party Pols, the crowd that can pay 250K to meet with him personally at conventions, inaugural balls,...) that sees him as a real populist who is 'just like them'. Of course, he has little in common with the average person, the act aside. He's never had to work for a living, never struggled economically, never had to worry about the economic consequences of his actions, etc. But, that doesn't matter, he plays the role and that's appealing.
The media bit plays into that well. He pretends he's too dumb or ill equipped to answer those 'washington elitist' journalists' trick questions because he's too 'plain spoken'. Of course, that's contradicted by the pretty good debating performances he does under considerable stress [I wouldn't wanna debate John Kerry or Anne Richards with millions watching me].
In reality Bush isn't much different from most right leaning pols, they have contempt for the idea that the masses should have access to their offices and unearned wealth. But that's not what comes across by the folksy 'dumb' act that he gives when talking to the media.


Bush was a Cheerleader!

I've dated cheerleaders, they are all about image and sparkle, and as shallow as a puddle.


"If California were to secede it would be one of the ten wealthiest nations on the planet, and nearly self-sufficient."

Some days that just seems like one hell of a good idea. I hate sending my tax money to Mississippi and then having some cornpone hypocrite like Trent Lott or demagogue witn low morals like Newt Gingrich not only not showing the grace to say "thank you" but calling ME decadent...


Green Dem: "If California were to secede it would be one of the ten wealthiest nations on the planet, and nearly self-sufficient."

That 'nearly' being the crucial matter of water, which we import in vast quantities. We wouldn't be wealthy long. Or even 'nearly' self-sufficient. Or alive, most of us, since a lot of that agua goes into agriculture.


Marc: You disappoint me. Look this up, if you will, please and observe, in particular, the last sentence. The idea that 'self-suppporting annuity plans' would ultimately be needed was inherent in the original Social Security proposition. You're ordinarily more dispassionate.

"In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

-- Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Message to Congress on Social Security. January 17, 1935


Plus, I don't think that suggesting that the President 'scorns the intelligence of the American people, etc.' is balanced, either. Since when does an intellectual disagreement become scorn? The people who voted for him don't feel scorned. Are we beyond the point where we can debate the solution to a problem without resorting to sand-box tactics? When I voted for Clinton and he pursued a couple of political lines I disagreed with I figured, hell, I wasn't going to agree with him on everything. I gave him credit for giving it his best shot. Government is a work in progress, it's not a gang fight. At least, I hope it's not.

Mavis Beacon

Totten's point is well taken. I really do think that it is our job as citizens to demand that he make himself available, that we ask reporters to disrupt the slick image sold by handlers and through staged appearances. I want my press to do that to any politician - Democrat or Republican. Any disagreements? If so why?

MD, I think that's a great idea. If the conservative objection is that they don't like who gets to ask questions, why not have more people asking questions? The president should have to answer tough questions from the left, right, and center. We shouldn't let him reject the whole process because too many questions come from the wrong side of the aisle.

Green Dem

"That 'nearly' being the crucial matter of water, which we import in vast quantities. We wouldn't be wealthy long. Or even 'nearly' self-sufficient. Or alive, most of us, since a lot of that agua goes into agriculture."

Hyperbole my friend, but if you want to talk water a generation from now nanotechnology will quite possibly replace reverse osmosis as the chief form of turning sea water into fresh water, making the long-held dream of cheap and efficient desalination a reality. It will transform the west, not to mention many other arid coastal and inland regions around the world.

Josh Narins

I loathe Michael Totten but he's basically got a point about Bush being awful in interviews. Although saying the press isn't nice to him implies a supreme level of head-up-the-*ss-ism.

Anyway, I'm a good chunk of the way through "The Price of Loyalty" now. I'd seen Suskind present the work on C-SPAN before, so some of the good bits weren't surprises.

Bush never comes off as evil, simply as ignorant and easily manipulated, a stupid man who has placed his trust in reactionary ideologues.

I'm sorry the word "inevitability" didn't show up in your post. Bush often treats his proposals as inevitable.


Alright, well, this is definately off topic but since there's a raging debate on this thread already about California succession I don't think I'm too out of line. Just wanted to pass on the word about the death ossie davis; the famous actor and long time civil rights campainer who delivered a famous and beautiful obituary at malcolm x funeral. I encourage people to check out the AP news story which gives a wonderful account of Ossie as an artist and an activist, whose life spanned the history of the modern civil rigts movement. Personally, I've known him through his humane, sensitive and often sorrowful performances in a variety of spike lees productions. There are few if any prominent intellectually and politically engaged artists like Ossie, I'll miss his warm and delicate presence on screen.

Josh Narins

Oh, and please consider calling it "the establishment press."

The MSM thing implies there was either a) no word for it before, or b) one simply was ignorant of the word.

Michael J. Totten

Josh Narins: "I loathe Michael Totten"

Well, nice day to you too, pal. I'm sure you're a real peach to hang out with.


Mavis Beacon - yup. Question time for all Presidents - they work for us and as their voter-supervisor I demand more!

ahem - that is a mighty interesting quote. I believe Instapundit also has a link to said quote. 'Voluntary contributory annuities' from, can it be, FDR?


(reg, tangents are fun. And I needlessly slandered Vogue in one of my previous posts. I hope this doesn't come back to haunt me when I run for office someday. The Vogue website has a list of 'ten top fashion' whatevers. You know. One of those lists. One of the top trends are silly, frilly, girly, 1930s blouses sure to make any Great Depression era gal proud. Think Merle Oberon in the Divorce of Lady X with Laurence Olivier. Perfect fashion choice for the moment apparently - just in time for the new Great Depression affecting the left-hand side of the land! Ok, sorry again. Apologies to the left-hand side of the land, many of whom are people I love and respect. Ciao and have a good weekend all, as I am already past my comment limit. Sorry marc.)

Jim Rockford

Marc, the LAT is a very poor excuse for a newspaper. It is openly partisan, waiting until the very last minute to run the stories about the Gropenator (I loathe Arnold, but even I had to acknowledge the purely partisan news coverage designed to derail his candidacy). The LAT might as well be the publishing arm of the Democratic Party. It's coverage of the Prop. 66 was abysmal and factually WRONG, as is it's coverage of Sacramento, the budget battle, or the recent Senate Race.

Criticizing Bush for not giving interviews with the LAT is like criticizing him for not giving interviews with the Weekly or Village Voice. All three publications going in would have only one agenda: gotcha. Therefore, it's prudent to avoid them.

Moreover the media as we've seen from "fake but accurate" cBS and Dan rATHER, and most recently Eason Jordan's "fake but accurate" claims that the US military deliberately murdered 12 reporters in Iraq (something even Barney Frank called him on) are quite openly anti-American, anti-Military, and pro-Arab. Given that the media's prime interests are to be applauded by Arab tyrants and their sycophants at places like Davos, to the point where they MAKE STUFF UP (and have regularly done so even in trivial matters like Jayson Blair) you have to ask yourself WHY anyone would consent to an interview. Look at NBC. They have a senior reporter covering the UN who also wrote a propaganda book for that institution. Would you trust ANYTHING from NBC about the UN given that conflict of interest. We also have the shoe that has not dropped ... according to the Duelfer report, Saddam BRIBED numerous reporters for favorable coverage.

It all comes down to trust. The media must, in order to gain access, have a non-partisan agenda and convince people that it will present their side of the story fairly. Otherwise, we will see the current situation (which echoes the partisan press of George Washington through Woodrow Wilson's days); where Democrats give interviews to the Democratic Party media (LAT, NYTIMES, WaPo, CNN, cBS, NBC, etc) and the Republicans give interviews to Republican Media (Fox, WSJ, WaTimes, etc).

Final thoughts on Eason Jordan. He publicly (in an interview) acknowledged that CNN did NOT report on Saddam's atrocities in exchange for exclusive interviews and to insure the safety of his bureau in Baghdad. He was also warned in advance by Saddam that he (Saddam) intended to murder his sons-in-law when they returned to Iraq; and Eason did nothing to pass that info along to save lives.

We can judge "America's most trusted name for news" by that actions ... CNN, and by extension the equally partisan LAT, is nothing more than a propaganda outlet, like Pravda, WSJ, Fox, Al-Jazeera, and the BBC. Nothing they report is actually the truth as we'd know it, but rather fake but accurate stuff, things made up of out whole cloth, or skewed for partisan agendas. In such a world, the consumer should not be surprised that folks make partisan judgments about who they talk to, and the reporting itself must be viewed in the light of it's partisan agenda. Seymour Hersh is a perfect example ... a tool of the CIA who's used to leak stuff for infighting and who's often just dead WRONG factually (his big stories came "in over the transom" as Graner's Defense attorney leaked the pictures to him wrt Graib as blackmail, and My Lai; Hersh never actually dug around for stories or left Washington).

[Note: the vast majority of the Media hews the anti-American, anti-Military, pro-Arab/Democratic line; however the same thing can be said for the conservative media except they haven't been caught out as much/at all in obvious factual lies, though I'm cynically confident they're equally as guilty]


"Note: the vast majority of the Media hews the anti-American, anti-Military, pro-Arab/Democratic line;"

You plainly were asleep when the media was busy helping Bush push the so-called "WMDs" are everywhere in Iraq and about to attack us all, grandmas, little innocent pubescent girls, puppies, and poison our american apple pies and free markets" business.
Really asleep to have missed the promotional element of their pre-official invasion coverage, Jessica Lynch hype, great capture of Sodom hype, and most recently hype over the "transition" to US occupation and a Mayor ALlawi of the Green Zone along with the Elections of Iraqis for Bush...

Really, you had to have been asleep to miss that all. Or you believe in conspiracy theories about news companies owned by military suppliers like GE...working to undermine American militarism. Boy, that guy who replaced Jack Welch must be a dye in the wool Al Qaeda loving Commie to believe jim Rockford's conspiracy theories about the "anti-american" media.

Chris Nolan

Marc, I'm not sure exactly why you're so hot for Jack Shafer's take-down of how the Bush Administration runs its press relations. First of all, he's late to the game. This stuff went on all during the campaign and, well, no one like Shafer squawked then. How come? One reason, of course, proves the Bush folks' point: The national press corps are a bunch of lap dogs who think access is the same as importance. They're not going to bite so why shouldn't the Bush flacks kick 'em from time to time just for yucks? It's a great way to edit the White House Christmas Party list. It's telling not that the Bush folks haven't talked to the LATimes but that the editor is bitching about the political irrelevance of California in the administration's calculation about who's important. Since when do you need a presidential interview to do a good story? I've written some of my best stuff about folks who have refused to talk to me.

What's really interesting is that no one at Slate has figured out that that the reason the Bush folks think they way they do is contained in Mickey Kaus' dead-on take-down of Bernie Weinraub's lame "tell-all" that was in last Sunday's Times. Kaus is right in pointing out, as has for yeas, that Weinraub had no business covering Hollywood and being married to a studio head. He's also right in saying that Weinraub had status envy. He couldn’t figure out why – until he married – no one in Hollywood thought he was important. Well, that's how the Bush administration feels about the press. They're not important. They are tools to be used at will. Oh, and I'd point out one other politician who feels the exact same way: Our own Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You've heard me talk a lot about what's wrong with American journalism. Shafer's complainst are just one more symptom of the problems. The business' economic underpinnings are in shambles, it hasn't "hired smart" in almost a generation, folks who do have jobs are under enormous pressure not to "miss" stories (or do something no one else is doing) and now its threatened in new and constant ways by site like yours and mine. The Bush folks are simply seizing an opportunity and while I agree with you and Shaffer that it's un-American, dangerous and ought not to happen I don't see a whole lot of folks on the business side of this business really and truly trying to really change the way things are done. Do you?

Jim Rockford

Steve --

There's plenty enough evidence to support my assertions. Jordan Eason (CNN); Dan RaTHer (cBS); ABC (Marc Helprin and his "work for Kerry" memo); NBC and their UN conflict of interest; the lunatic ravings of Keith Olberman, etc.

Moreover, the media missed the major parts of the Saddam story, or were simply unable to report it, due to being either BRIBED by Saddam, or having extensive "in-bed" relationships with him like CNN admitted. That Eason kept quiet about Saddam's plans to murder his sons-in-law says it all. As does no one in the Media talking about it. Very likely they were bribed by Saddam.

Certainly no real reporting was done about Ramzi Yusef, Zarqawi, or Abu Nidal all finding refuge in Baghdad before the war. Gee I wonder why?

You may have wanted to take Saddam's "good word" that he wouldn't ship off the nasties to whoever, but most Americans didn't and wouldn't. Afghanistan and 9/11 showed the risk of taking tyrants word for it. You can't trust them. I wouldn't trust Saddam if he told me the sky was blue.

I'm not surprised most of the Media sided with the head-choppers, torturers, or murderers. Most of the Left has too; given a choice between ballots and peaceful change and outright murder (using retarded kids as suicide bombers) they chose the monsters. Hey, most of the media in the thirties LOVED Hitler. This is nothing new, the Media and the left LOVE their tyrants, as long as they spew out the anti-American slogans.

Jessica Lynch? The LAT is exhibit A on the shameful reporting. Buried very carefully in the back of the stories following up her progress was the admission that she had been sexually assaulted so severely that she must wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life, and contrary to reports DOES remember her torture and rapes by the Iraqis, as well as the murder of the surrendered troops with her, including Piestawa (beheaded in front of her) and others. Yet the LAT had no problems detailing the sexual and medical histories of Kobe Bryant's accuser.

The LAT essentially colluded with the Pentagon, Bush Administration, and Congress to suppress important news so as to serve their diverse interests (Pentagon and Bush for putting women in harms way of monsters; Congress for the women in military pulling essentially combat duty). Also unreported was the briefing post-Lynch to female military people in Iraq and Kuwait; and their resolve to never be captured alive given Lynch's brutal treatment (which itself was given female combatants in Gulf War 1). These are things worth knowing and discussing, but the Media and LAT will never cover them because it doesn't fit their anti-American/pro-enemy agenda.

John Moore (Useful Fools)

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

Yeah, the left never scares people, does it? They never lie. Give it a rest. I read this crap on PressThink and it doesn't pass the smell test. Furtllhermore, it would appear that there is nothing Bush could do that wouldn't be demonized, ridiculed or denounced by the stuck record needle of the west.

No, the administration rightly despises many in the MSM. The LA Times long ago lost the privilege of interviewing Bush. Why should Bush give presents to routinely hostile and dishonest media outlets? This has been hashed out in the journalism world, with the adoption of the comfortable but insane concept that the media is in the "reality based" community and the White House is not.

This administration communicates with the people. It just chooses to do so through the ever increasing alternative media. Conservatives hear lots from the White House, because he talks to our pundits and reporters. That's his choice. Nowhere other than in the arrogance of the MSM echo chamber is there a belief that the president owes THEM anything.

This administration SCORNS the attitude and dishonesty of the MSM, but TRUSTS the intelligence of the American people. Were it not for the unpredictable failure to find WMDs, almost all of these arguments about lies and fears would fall flat. The left was very lucky that Saddam played his little game. If you want to denounce liars and fear mongers, go after Saddam the killer rather than Bush, the liberator.

There is an area of valid criticism. Bush isn't that good at talking to hostile media. Hence he avoids them for that reasons also. But when he is talking to friendly media, or to just plain Americans, he usually does a fine job of it - scripted or ad hoc.

Jim Rockford

Here's an article in the LAT that I believe makes my point (registration required, www.bugmenot.com for registration info):


The headline reads "A Nobel Nominee Faces Execution" and goes on to describe the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denying Tookie Williams effort to get a new trial and his conviction for murders thrown out. One judge is quoted "a prosecutor publicly castigated by the Supreme Court of California for his pattern of racially motivated peremptory jury challenges, removed all blacks from Williams' jury. In declining to [rehear] this case, our court bestows an implicit imprimatur upon the trial court's denial of a constitutionally mandated jury selection process."

The story further details Stanley "Tookie" aka "Monster" Williams founding the Crips, and his nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. Williams committed the murders and was tried and convicted in 1981. Do the math (the LAT won't) and you find he's been on death row for 24 YEARS.

This is the typical misleading LAT story; since it only discloses further down that raging Conservative Racist California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (a very liberal Democrat in case you didn't know) is quoted through a Spokesman as saying "the trial prosecutor had "good reasons not related to race" for dismissing the three black jurors. He said one was excused because of a work hardship, another because she said she would require prosecutors to meet a higher standard of proof than normal and the third out of concern that he would be guided by his background as a psychologist rather than the evidence."

This at the VERY end of the story. Buried right next to it is the actual CRIMES Williams was convicted of: a 1979 shotgun murder of a 7-11 clerk in which he and three others split $120; and the murder two days later of motel owners and their daughter.

The LAT deliberately slanted the story of "racist railroading of a poor, oppressed Nobel Peace Prize Nominee" ... not that a brutal murder of FOUR PEOPLE will finally get what's coming to him in what Liberal Democrats view as a fair trial.

You can't trust the LAT; it's not fit for much but lining birdcages Marc. You can't blame Bush for bailing on them; even the LA Weekly with it's porn/sex ads all over the place has more class.

Marc Cooper

Jim.. you're just plain wrong. We can debate all day and night the shortcomings and/or biad of the LA Times. That's not the point. The president of the U.S. has a responsibiity to make himself available for media scrutiny. I'd worry more about his reluctance than your ideological differences with the Times. In any case, ur wrong that the Times is liberal. It's corporate, man. Corporate. You think the Tribune Corp is in the business of running liberal rags? Please.


"essica Lynch? The LAT is exhibit A on the shameful reporting. Buried very carefully in the back of the stories following up her progress was the admission that she had been sexually assaulted so severely that she must wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life, and contrary to reports DOES remember her torture and rapes by the Iraqis, as well as the murder of the surrendered troops with her, including Piestawa (beheaded in front of her) and others."

Why do I get the feeling you probably also think that *you* remember seeing these things to along with Elvis.

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