All last week the administration had trotted out Dick Cheney, George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld to play the "attack the messenger" game to pass along the meme that the media is only reporting bad news from Iraq to try and help their plummeting poll numbers and the public's perception of the events in Iraq. Their loyal pundits followed suit and picked it up like the good little Stepford Wives that they are while the administration stood back and watched. Case in point. The networks have been running this sound bite of Gayle Taylor's question to President Bush in West Virginia (her husband is Kent Taylor-former Public information officer) all week. She said:
TAYLOR: This is my husband who has returned from a 13-month tour in Tikrit, and he has brought back several DVDs full of wonderful footage of reconstruction, of medical things going on. And I ask you this from the bottom of my heart for a solution to this, because it seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus -- (Cheers and applause.)
I wonder how she ever got that mic? Network, cable news and talk radio have been on fire with this talking point ever since which has forced many journalists to defend the way they actually cover the war.
On Meet The Press Sunday, Elizabeth Bumiller from the NY Times tells us that suddenly President Bush and Scott McClellan have actually backed off of this ploy because it's a loser. Is she that dumb not to understand how the GOP plays this game or is she just being a shill? Take your pick and vote in the comment section. (watch the video)
BUMILLER: The other thing that's interesting, what you didn't show was the president's response to her. I was there that day, and he was very, very careful not to jump on her bandwagon. In fact--mean, obviously, he didn't have to, she did it for him. But the point is he said, "Look, wait a minute. You know, I understand your frustration, but we have a free press in this country, we can't tell them what to do." He pulled back somewhat from her comment. And I think you're right, Charlie, that they aren't--they know they can't sell this, and when they've tried in the past, it has backfired on them.
Now let's go and read what President Bush said as a response to Gayle Taylor:
Bush: One of the things that we have to value is that that we do have a media, free media that's able to do what they want to do and I - you ask me to say something in front of all the camera here [laughter]. Help over there will ya? I just got to keep talking and word of mouth, there's blogs, there's internet, there's all kinds of ways to communicate which is literally changing the way people get their information and so if you're concerned I would suggest that you reach out to some of the groups that are supporting the troops, that got internet sites and just keep the word moving....
Did Bush just endorse the blogs? He told Gayle to use different outlets for the news to hear what she wants to hear and not what is actually fact. He also implied that the traditional media doesn't support our troops. Another tactic being used thses days. How many times have the so called Pro-military internet sites reported on the lack of armor or health care deficiencies for our soldiers? The rest of the panel was pretty shocked at Elisabeth and John Harwood of The Wall Street Journal asked her if she had fallen asleep.
RUSSERT: But is the White House convinced that in order to secure the base of the Republican Party for the president, it doesn't hurt to go after the media a little bit?
BUMILLER: Not-of course not. They do it all the time. And, and they complain all the time about, about, about what we do. But, but I, I have noticed this past week Scott McClellan saying, the White House press secretary, you know, "We're not blaming the media for the war in Iraq." He said that a couple times this week, and so, so it, it's--they're--again, they're being a little more careful here than usual.
HARWOOD: And did you really fall asleep in that press pool, or was that a cheap shot by the president?
BUMILLER: It was completely inaccurate. I won't say I haven't nodded off in previous speeches, but not that one.
RUSSERT: There is a difference between, difference between meditation and sleep, you see.
Can someone please take Bumiller out for some coffee or an ice cream cone and explain to her that Rove and company send out the marching orders and let others like Laura Ingraham do the dirty work for them. I have a strong feeling that she knows this already. I mean what journalist (especially from the often bashed NY Times) wouldn't know how this con game is played? Please remember to vote in the comment section. A) Dumb. B) Shill.
(John Amato is the major dude at Crooksandliars.com)