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Uncurious Media

Citations describing the media as uncurious about George Bush, his administration, and the outrageous activities before, during, and after election day 2000, that created the Bush usurpistration.

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American Politics Journal -- "Dakhil" and the Hitherto Fruitless Search for Saddam Hussein
Richard Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush, and -- yes -- The Gallup Organization in a loose concert of ignorance
By Jeff Koopersmith
November 1, 2003

NEW YORK -- The mainstream media continues to cooperate with the Bush Administration's policy of giving short shrift to the Muslim psyche, and especially the Iraqi sense of place.

In the West -- where the expressions "family, national pride, and friend" are tossed about like so much salad -- we are less likely to recognize the importance of diverse cultural perspectives, above all when they are linked to unassailable and even unwise fidelity.

So sayeth not the irresponsible and sometimes non-curious American news media, where nowhere have we heard a word about stunning Arab loyalties, even between those of contradictory opinion, that might be our "enlightenment" answering the question concerning why exactly Saddam Hussein has not been "discovered" -- and may never be.

Bjørn Stærk blog - Discovering neo-conservatism
Sunday October 05, 2003 14:47 CET

One frustrating failure of the Norwegian media leading up to the Iraq war was lack of curiosity about the American motivation for planning a war. . . .

[Author provides usage statistics of the Norwegian words for "neo-conservative"]

It's only to be expected that neo-conservative would be a rare word, but the jump after the war started is indicative of the ignorance and lack of curiosity the buildup to war was treated with.

Media: Just Find and Tell the Truth (PDF file)
An intellectual climate that equates questioning and criticism with treason has disastrous consequences
Ross “Rocky” Anderson is the Mayor of Salt Lake City
CATALYST August 2003

On March 8 [2003] ... I read in an article on the front page of the Washington Post that Dr. Mohamed El-Baradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had declared the previous day that the documents which formed the basis for President Bush's claim were crude forgeries. . . .

Now, astoundingly, the press reports the matter as if the revelation of the forgeries just occurred. In the July 21, 2003 issue of Newsweek, the article titled "A Spy Takes the Bullet" refers to "the administration's mishandling of intelligence during the run-up to the Iraq war" without disclosing that almost all the news media, including Newsweek, failed to alert the people of this nation about the false basis for President Bush's claim until four and a half months after Dr. El-Baradei made the disclosure — that is, until after the unprecedented "preemptive" war against Iraq had commenced and after President Bush declared on May 1 that major hostilities were over.

That wasn't the only nuclear lie that went unexposed by the complicit news media. Consider the following account by John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper's Magazine, in the May/June 2003 issue of Columbia Journalism Review:
[T]he success of "Bush's PR War"... was largely dependent on a compliant press that uncritically repeated almost every fraudulent administration claim about the threat posed to America by Saddam Hussein.

[T]here was a disinformation campaign aimed at the people and Congress. Just a few columnists seriously challenged the White House advertising assault. Looking back over the debris of half-truths and lies, I can't help but ask... where was the American press on September 7, 2002, a day when we were sorely in need of reporters?

It was then that the White House propaganda drive began in earnest, with the appearance before television cameras of George Bush and Tony Blair at Camp David. Between them, the two politicians cited a "new" report from the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency that allegedly stated that Iraq was "six months away" from building a nuclear weapon. "I don't know what more evidence we need," declared the President.

For public relations purposes, it hardly mattered that no such IAEA report existed, because almost no one in the media bothered to check out the story... [Ellipses in this excerpt were in Catalyst]

New Birth of Freedom
The Crisis Papers
New Birth of Freedom
By Eric Partridge
July 21, 2003

There remained another dragon at the gate to political reform: the dreaded “paperless”computer voting machines. Throughout the country, states and municipalities were adopting computerized voting, whereby ballots would be tallied electronically, with no paper records, and with software that was “proprietary” — i.e., the undisclosed property of the machine manufacturer. In other words, the election returns were to be taken “on the word” of the computer manufacturers, all of which, by the way, were supporters of and contributors to the Republican Party. In fact, a major investor of one company, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, was elected by the machines made by a firm of which he was a major stockholder. Moreover, had the pre-election polls of the 2002 mid-term election proven fully accurate, the Democrats would have taken control of the Congress. However, in a few of the contests tallied by paperless computers, there were statistically improbable “shifts” toward the Republicans, who thus controlled the Congress. In that same election, exit polls, which had consistently proved to be the best indicators of election results, were cancelled for reasons never fully explained. Predictably, the mass media were astonishingly uncurious about these strange anomalies and coincidences, and so the public accepted the results of the 2002 election without protest.

All this changed when three Democratic state Attorneys General launched investigations into computer vote fraud. Computer experts demonstrated the ease with which a 50-50 voter input to a computer voting machine could yield a 60-40 output, with no traceable record in the software. At length, three software programmers employed by the computer companies testified, under oath and the threat of perjury, that they had done just that in the 2002 Georgia election.

SoonerThought: Believe What I Say, Not What is True
July 16, 2003

Book Review
What Liberal Media? by Eric Alterman
322 pages
2003 Basic Books http://www.whatliberalmedia.com/

Reviewed by J. Alex Greenwood
Editor, SoonerThought.com

J. Alex Greenwood is a freelance writer, public relations consultant and former Democratic candidate for the Oklahoma State Legislature. His political commentary website, www.SoonerThought.Com, was launched in July 2003.

What Liberal Media? Fearlessly details the media’s double standard with two-term President Bill Clinton and our current appointed President, George W. Bush. In a lengthy chapter entitled “W’s World”, Alterman carefully outlines the failure of the “So Called Liberal Media,” asking why President Clinton was the subject of a multimillion-dollar investigation (spanning almost his entire presidency) of a $30,000 real estate investment called Whitewater; while George W. Bush got a pass for his Enron-style shenanigans at Harken Oil. He poses the same query about Vice President Cheney’s handling of Haliburton stock sales, as well:

“Compared to the millions gained in the Harken and Haliburton cases, the Clintons’ $30,000 (failed) Whitewater investment looks mighty puny indeed. But the media proved remarkably uncurious about the story about the former compared to the latter. The Bush Administration, Harken Oil, and the SEC stonewalled with regard to the relevant documents, inspiring barely a peep of protest. That despite the fact the single most important issue at the moment these questions were being asked was that of “corporate responsibility” in the wake of the billion-dollar debacles at Enron, Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, Tyco, and others. But here was Howard Kurtz on his CNN show, Reliable Sources, falsely claiming that Bush “was ultimately cleared by the SEC,” a view that was seconded by his guest Martha Brant of Newsweek. Kurtz seemed to be doing his best to ridicule the very idea that anyone would care about Bush’s honesty in making his fortune.”

The Claremont Institute: Commander-In-Chief
Reviews of Bush at War, by Bob Woodward and The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush, by David Frum.
By Steven F. Hayward
Steven F. Hayward is F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980 (Prima).
Posted June 11, 2003
This review appeared in the Summer 2003 issue of the Claremont Review of Books.
Here, reviewer Hayward himself is as incurious as Bush. Rather than challenging this preposterous Bush quote, he amplifies on it. In Biblical times, moral truth included punishment by stoning for offenses we would today regard as trifling. In some Islamic countries, moral truth includes cutting hands off thieves. Only the uncurious believe in one moral truth for all cultures, times, and places.

In a little-noticed line last June in his West Point speech announcing the new doctrine of preemption, Bush said, "Moral truth is the same in every culture, in every time, and in every place."

Star - News: the big gun in Bush's arsenal
Johannisberg Star
May 5, 2003
By David Morgan

US government public relations specialists are still concocting bogus stories to serve government interests, he says, and credulous journalists stand ready to swallow it up.

"The concept of a self-governing US republic has been crippled by this propaganda," [Harper's magazine publisher John] MacArthur says. "The whole idea that we can govern ourselves and have an intelligent debate, free of cant, free of disinformation, I think it's dead." . . .

Cynthia Kennard, assistant professor at the University South Carolina's Annenberg School of Journalism, says the Bush administration has mastered the art of building favourable public images and shaping messages to suit its own interests.

"It has put the journalism profession in somewhat of a paralysis," says Kennard, a former CBS correspondent who covered the 1991 Gulf War. "This is not a particularly glowing moment for tough questions and enterprise reporting." . . .

While MacArthur accuses news outlets generally of avoiding opposition stances, his own magazine has been vitriolic towards Bush, describing the president in its May issue as a leader who "counts his ignorance as a virtue and regards his lack of curiosity as a sign of moral strength". . . .

"On the propaganda side, The New York Times is more responsible for making the case for war than any other newspaper or any other news organisation."

He blames the Times for giving credence to Bush administration claims about the aluminium tubes. And when Bush cited a nonexistent IAEA report on Iraqi nukes, he says, it was the conservative Washington Times - not The New York Times or Washington Post - that wound up disproving the assertion. . . .

MacArthur believes that the character of the news media, and the government's attitude towards it, was best summed up by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a Pentagon "town hall" meeting.

Asked by an audience member what could be done to reverse the media's "overwhelmingly negative" war coverage, Rumsfeld said: "Penalise the papers and the television that don't give good advice and reward those who do give good advice."

MacArthur says that translated as: "You punish the critics and you reward your friends. That's what he means. That's the standard currency of Washington journalism. To show reality becomes unpatriotic, in effect."

Take Back The Media! TBTM Commentary by Dennis Hans
The Disinformation Age:
How George W. Bush and Saint Colin of Powell are lying America into an unnecessary war — and what honest journalists can do about it
March 4, 2003

I don’t know why columnists Nicholas Kristof and Richard Cohen continue to believe that Bush is an honest man, or why Paul Krugman has done more than all of the network and cable “news” operations combined to expose the president as a brazen serial liar. I do know, however, that the current ratio, which I estimate at 100 gullible Woodwards for every competent Krugman, is disastrous for democracy.  . . .

Bush’s certitude is contagious and has infected much of the mass media. My local paper, the putrid St. Petersburg Times, editorialized Feb. 26 that “Bush is correct” in his “iceberg” declaration. Readers will have to trust me on this one, but I GUARANTEE that no one on the SPT editorial board, headed by the dimwitted, uncurious and contemptible Philip Gailey, has a clue as to what remains of Iraqi WMD capabilities.

A Matter of Temperament
By James Q. Wilson
Commentary [magazine]
Publication Date: March 1, 2003

The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush
By David Frum
Random House. 303 pp. $25.95
While this review says that Bush "can be incurious," it unintentionally shows both reviewer and author the same, without using the word.

"Bush does not lie to you," Frum writes.

NYTimes.com Review The 'Axis of Evil' Guy
January 26, 2003, Sunday
The 'Axis of Evil' Guy
By Jeff Shesol
THE RIGHT MAN: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush.
By David Frum.
303 pp. New York: Random House. $25.95.
While this review mentions the usual quote about Bush being uncurious, it also describes the author the same, without using the word.

As for Bush himself, Frum is forthright about the president's ''many faults,'' among them that he is ''often uncurious and as a result ill informed.'' . . .

His analysis here is often glib and ungratifying. ''The Right Man'' frequently resorts to the type of cant one encounters on talk radio: according to Frum, global agreements like the Kyoto Accords and the international convention on land mines are simply the schemings of ''ill wishers'' -- some of them our fellow citizens -- who ''oppose American power.'' Not much nuance there.

Scoop: Bush Is Racking Up "Frequent Liar Miles"
Friday, 17 January 2003, 3:15 pm
Opinion: Dennis Hans
Dennis Hans is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Post (Canada) and online at TomPaine.com, Slate and The Black World Today (tbwt.com), among other outlets.
Though the word "uncurious" is applied to Bush, author Dennis Hans is really accusing the media of incuriosity about Bush's lies. Note that the correct spelling of the Washington Post reporter's name is Milbank. Also appeared Jan. 18, 2003, at Democratic Underground.

In October, for example, Washington Post reporter Dana Millbank detailed several jaw-dropping lies about Iraq and other matters, which he described euphemistically as presidential “flights of fancy.” But the airwaves held firm, and Millbank himself got back on the team when he guested January 12 on CNN’s Late Edition (click here for the transcript) to discuss The Right Man, a book about Bush by his former speech writer, David Frum.

A controversial passage was displayed on the screen and read aloud by host Wolf Blitzer (who missed the irony that the controversy revolved around those parts of the passage that appear to be true, rather than the one assertion that is patently false):

“George W. Bush is a very unusual person — a good man who is not a weak man. He has many faults. He is impatient and quick to anger, sometimes glib, even dogmatic, often uncurious and, as a result, ill-informed, more conventional in his thinking than a leader probably should be. But outweighing the faults are his virtues: decency, honesty, rectitude, courage and tenacity.”

Yep, Frum wrote “honesty.” Millbank, who knew better, didn’t bat an eye or squeak a peep. Nor did the presumably clueless Blitzer.

When journalists are this deferential and reverential, there’s no limit to the frequent liar miles Bush can accumulate.

NYTimes.com Review BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Bush's Transformation in Saber-Rattling Times

The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush
By David Frum
303 pages. Random House. $25.95.
January 9, 2003, Thursday
The reviewer considers author David Frum to be uncurious.

In these pages Mr. Frum displays none of the originality or insight that distinguished ''Dead Right,'' his 1994 book on the American conservative movement. Instead he recycles lots of familiar observations: that George W. Bush got off to a wobbly start as president but found his voice in the wake of Sept. 11; that the commander in chief has a poor memory for facts and figures; that his White House prizes loyalty, discipline and punctuality.

The book is filled with a spinmeister's clichés (''Bush's record has been dauntless, far-seeing, and consistent'' on the war) and is riddled with contradictions and evasions. Mr. Frum hails the ambition and political imagination displayed by the Bush administration, but he writes that with the exception of the political guru Karl Rove and Mitch Daniels at the Office of Management and Budget, ''conspicuous intelligence seemed actively unwelcome in the Bush White House.''

In one chapter he writes that Mr. Bush is ''more conventional in his thinking than a leader probably should be.'' In another he argues that the president is a visionary, possessing an artist's prescience and wisdom: ''More important than the ability to remember what has happened in the past is the ability to imagine what could happen in the future,'' he writes. ''As an English political scientist has well observed, the mind of a successful political leader 'is more akin to the imagination of a creative artist than to any faculty that intellectuals possess.' ''

Mr. Frum holds up a sunny vision of a post-Saddam Hussein future in which Iraq becomes ''a reliable American ally,'' Iranians are ''emboldened to rise against the mullahs,'' the Saudis and other Arab states modernize, and ''new prosperity'' is brought ''to us all, by securing the world's largest pool of oil.'' But he never addresses the possibility that the Middle East dominoes might not fall in this direction, that a war against Iraq, waged without broad coalition support, might incur further hatred of the United States on the Arab street; that unilateral action might set a dangerous precedent for international relations. Instead he simply revels, giddily, in the spectacle of American power. . . .

He contends that the president ''was determined to try nonpartisanship,'' that ''compromise was indispensable to the 'new tone' he had promised to bring to Washington,'' but ignores polarizing appointments like that of Attorney General John Ashcroft. . . .

Mr. Frum's penchant for facile analogies and bellicose language underscores the dogmatic, hectoring tone of this book, a book that plays solely to readers who already share all of his certainties and that makes no effort to persuade others through historical knowledge, foreign policy acumen or simple logic.

A Surprise Presidency
By Jonathan Karl
Jonathan Karl is CNN's congressional correspondent. David Frum is a resident fellow at AEI.

Wall Street Journal
Publication Date: January 8, 2003
The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush
By David Frum
Random House, 303 pages, $25.95
The reviewer considers author David Frum to be uncurious.

Even as Mr. Frum tries to explain Mr. Bush's transformation, he doesn't seem quite convinced of it. He concludes with a laundry list of the president's virtues--"decency, honesty, rectitude, courage, and tenacity"--but he seems more convinced and specific when he lists his faults: "He is impatient and quick to anger; sometimes glib, even dogmatic; often uncurious and as a result ill informed; more conventional in his thinking than a leader should be." So, again, how did the Bush presidency move so swiftly from fecklessness to firm command? Mr. Frum seems to need more time to figure it all out.


Scoop: UnderNews: Regime Change Needed In US Media
Monday, 16 September 2002, 12:29 pm
By Progressive Review Editor Sam Smith

As we move towards a broader war against Iraq - remember, the last one never ended - one thing is clear: there is a definite need for a regime change. . . in the American media. Through a combination of ignorance, negligence, and complicity this media has, for more than a decade, badly misled its audience through mindless quotation of official sources, major omissions, chronic incuriosity, and masochistic submissiveness. In the earlier period, the major media wouldn't even join the alternative press in a lawsuit to demand the sort of access that would make honest war coverage possible; and as recently as this morning, Brian Lamb and three Pentagon reporters quickly flicked off a caller who sought some comment on the history of official lying over Iraq.

A prime example is the fact that the U.S. and its allies have, over the past decade, killed more innocent Iraqi citizens than has the Butcher of Baghdad. Not just from our continuing and largely unreported bombing, but through the economic, social, environmental, and health costs of our sanctions. . . .

Even as we moved towards a new invasion, the media remained quiet. An archive check of the Washington Post for this year, for example, finds only two references to the deaths of children in Iraq, neither from a Post reporter. . . .

Quite accidentally, your editor stumbled across a manifestation of this phenomenon a few years back. I had spoken at the first anti-war rally in DC during the Yugoslavia war. It was, I thought, a pretty good speech and was pleased the next day to turn on C-SPAN as it was re-broadcasting the rally - right at the point that a folksinger said that she was "just the warm-up act for Sam Smith." So I naturally stopped my weekend chores to have a listen. But I never appeared. My speech had been cut in its entirety.

read more to find out what C-SPAN was incurious about.

When Conservatives Sue Conservatives
Harley Sorensen, Special to SF Gate
Monday, June 17, 2002
Harley Sorensen is a longtime journalist. His column appears Mondays.
Sorensen's column is on the San Francisco Chronicle's sfgate.com website but does not appear in the paper.

Given its history, you'd never expect Judicial Watch to be suing a conservative Republican administration and the FBI. But it is.

The suit revolves around the decision, last Sept. 11, to give the anthrax-treating antibiotic, Cipro, to members of Vice President Dick Cheney's staff.

Judicial Watch, displaying a curiosity absent in other Americans (including the press), wants to know why Cipro was dispensed more than three weeks before the first anthrax attack in the United States.

What sort of crystal ball did the White House Medical Office have? How could anyone have known that, beginning on Oct. 2, letters laced with anthrax would start showing up in the mail?

Judicial Watch announced its lawsuit with as much fanfare as it could muster on June 7. Only one newspaper that I know of, the New York Times, did an original story on it the next day -- on page 10. the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post settled for Associated Press stories. The Times' version was on page A11. I couldn't find the location of the Post story, but I'd guess it was buried, too.

Given Judicial Watch's penchant for filing off-the-wall lawsuits, you can perhaps forgive the media for not paying much attention this time. But when conservatives turn on their own, it's possible something important is happening.

American Politics Journal -- Napping On The Job
TO: The Washington Press Corps
From: CK
Re: Karl Rove / Operation Distract & Divert
Date: June 16, 2002
This article is also cited in Citations Explained 2002 with a different excerpt. CK deserves mega-kudos for discussing media neglect of Richard Clarke almost two years before Richard Clarke suddenly burst into public consciousness with the publication of his book and his public testimony.

Other stories fit the pattern. Consider the Ashcroft announcement of capture of Jose Padilla, timed to eclipse the Congressional testimony of Richard Clarke -- the Anti-Terrorism Czar who chaired the Anti-Terrorism conference -- on July 5, 2001.

At a briefing convened BY THE WHITE HOUSE, and held in the WHITE HOUSE Situation Room -- it was Clarke who warned "something spectacular" was going to happen.

What did Condi Rice know about this conference? Did she attand? If not -- why not?

What did Mr Bush know about this conference?

And if they plead ignorance -- what does that say about their competence?

What I find most incredible about this week's news -- I haven't seen one report on the testimony of Richard Clarke --

Which in itself, is mute testimony to the effectiveness of Karl Rove's strategy.

Consider the news we have seen this week -- Ashcroft announces the arrest of Padilla -- Wolfowitz criticizes Ashcroft for grandstanding -- the press buzzes about the breakdown of the vaunted White House control of information -- and by week's end, the political class -- especially the Democrats -- are all abuzz about the carelessness of the Rove Mehlman team for losing a "sensitive" political data file (a data file that is more revealing for it's spin that the secret strategies it contains.)

On this so-called "lost" file -- it's time to walk back the cat. Compare the arc of the story (when -- where -- and how -- it was revealed) with the content of the file --

And compare that -- with the stories that were not covered in the same news cycles.

Does Maureen Dowd "get" it? In her Sunday column, she writes of the "too-good-to-be-true" luck of a Democratic Senate Staffer finding the disk in Lafayette Park -- and the lame content and lack of sophistication of this data.

Well -- guess what, Maureen?

It IS too-good-to-be-true -- the question is, does the media have the sophistication and analytical skills -- to notice?

Anytime the media is talking about an inside the beltway political story -- be it Ashcroft; or Wolfowitz; or the amazing dexterity of the White House news management -- or the apparent breakdown of said news management dexterity --

Anytime this happens -- anytime the chattering class is chattering about beltway buzz --

The oxygen has effectively been sucked out of the room, and REAL stories are being ignored.

Dan Schorr -- on NPR's Saturday Weekend Edition -- obviously "gets" it. From this perspective, there are not many others who share his insight. The past 10 days have been a triumph of "change the subject" news management for the Bush White House.

But it's just another day at the office -- a small series of O.D.D. moments -- for Karl Rove. . . .

Of course, it's not only 9/11 questions the Bush Rove team wants to avoid -- the list is almost too long to enumerate.

Some are being investigated. *

Some have been reported, but generally ignored by the mainstream media. **

And some have been completely ignored. ***

* Enron's influence on Cheney's Energy Task Force --
** Enron's influence in Pre 9/11 negotiations with the Taliban for a Trans-Afghan Oil Pipeline --
* Enron's manipulation of the energy markets in the year 2000;
*** in order to benefit the candidacy of George W Bush --
** Ashcroft's whitewash of Republican Election Fraud in Florida
*** Karl Rove's Texas blueprint for the Florida False Felons List Voter Purge Scandal --
** Ashcroft's foot dragging in the Anthrax Investigation --
** The Bush Administration's cover up of the crash of Flight 93

...and all of the other Bush Administration Policies that serve the interests of corporations and the ultra rich -- to the detriment of the American People.

In light of all this -- when the media pays attention to anything else -- even the foibles of the Bush Administration -- it's good news, from Karl Rove's point of view.

In light of all this, it's good to remember: the news you hear from the White House is Karl Rove playing the Mighty Wurlitzer for all it's worth.

Stephen J. Sniegoski on the anomalies of September 11 -- fifth update
Alibis and new revelations
June 12, 2002

How is the public to know the information would not show that the administration had access to key intelligence on the 9/11 attacks? Unfortunately, we just have to take the administration's word for it. After all, its leading figures wouldn't lie, would they?

The mainstream media, for their part, have reverted to their normal state of incuriosity and passivity. Can anyone imagine the media's accepting comparable non-explanations from Richard Nixon? Of course not, because the mainstream media hated Nixon, and while they might not be enamored with Bush, they are in lockstep in support of his "war on terrorism." They do not wish to do anything that would cast it in a negative light and hamper its prosecution.

National Review: Defense: A Better Posture - Bush administration's Nuclear Posture Review - Brief Article
April 8, 2002
The National Review is unabashedly conservative, so their finding of hysteria has to be discounted. The National Review won't see it this way, but the issue is not the leak, it's the contents of the review itself.

The debate over the Bush administration's Nuclear Posture Review has been hysterical even by the usual standards of any discussion involving the word "nuclear." The classified review was leaked on the eve of Dick Cheney's Middle East trip, in an obvious bid to embarrass the administration and wrong-foot it as it attempted to build international support for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. The press has been distinctly incurious about the source of the leak, eager to pound the administration for, in the words of the New York Times, wanting to make America "a nuclear rogue."


LA Weekly: Columns: On: Meanwhile Back at the Ranch
SEPTEMBER 7 - 13, 2001
by John Powers
Another excerpt appears in Dishonorable Mentions.

Last week, the L.A. Times ran a piece by Judy Pasternak that paints a damning portrait of our new administration. Titled “Bush’s Energy Plan Bares Industry Clout,” this devastating exposé demonstrates that the White House energy task force, headed by Dick Cheney, was little more than a game preserve for Republican donors and lobbyists. Pasternak reveals levels of logrolling, back scratching and legalistic pussyfooting that might lead an uninformed soul to believe he was reading a dispatch from Mobutu’s Zaire or Suharto’s Indonesia.

If revelations like this had come out about Clinton, everyone from Drudge and Fox News to The Wall Street Journal would’ve pounded the war drums 24/7 until we begged for mercy. But this story of Bush administration corruption sank as quickly and surely as a Soviet sub, ignored by the mainstream media (isn’t it supposed to be liberal?) . . .

This failure to pick up on Pasternak’s story also underscores another, larger truth: The media have been giving Bush an easy ride. Never was this more obvious than during his recent vacation at his 1,600-acre ranch in Crawford, Texas, a trip that his press staff officially termed “Home to the Heartland” (which sounds a bit like a tour by Eddie Rabbit).

Like nearly everything presidents do these days, Bush’s holiday was all about symbolism, with each dawn sprouting a carefully calibrated new piece of iconography for Today or the Nightly News. Here was virile Dubya clearing a path, playing the Reaganesque rancher; there he was toting around that fat bio of John Adams, to display his inquiring mind. One day, he flaunted his blue-jeaned decency by pounding some nails (and bloodying his finger) with Habitat for Humanity; another he proved that he’s an ordinary guy by sitting in the snack bar at Target. Hoping to shore up support in swing states, he flew off to Albuquerque and read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to schoolchildren and stood before a location-scouted Colorado Rockies vista waxing Green for a crowd as stocked with Republicans as the tourist fishing streams are stocked with trout.

Naturally, the reporters who follow any president know such events are PR fictions — they exist only to be put on TV. . . . I’m still haunted by the image of the honorable old CBS veteran Bill Plante standing in front of a barn and some bales of hay, while the dust whipped around in the background. His mouth may have been talking about the president, but his tired eyes were saying, “What the hell am I doing here?”

The answer, of course, is that he was helping create the official version of the Bush presidency. Year after year, the networks and big papers still cover these pseudo-events as if they were actual news. They never show the messy or unscripted stuff you get on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, where you can see the unguarded Dubya picking sod from his golf-shoe cleats with arrogant disdain as he babbles to reporters about the Middle East. No, showing such a thing on the news would be considered disrespectful, a sneaky form of editorializing. The closest any real reporter got to revealing the truth of Bush’s vacation was Frank Bruni in The New York Times, who described how those New Mexico schoolchildren wouldn’t let Bush get away with saying he came from the Heartland. Each time he asked them where he was from, they shrieked, “Washington, D.C.”


Jeff Birnbaum reviewed Gore's correspondence with Hsia. The conclusions he drew were "extraordinary."
The Daily Howler
by Bob Somerby
20 March 2000
Bush Rebuffs Bid To Embrace Views Pushed By McCain
Richard Berke and Frank Bruni, The New York Times, 3/16/00
Although George W. Bush is termed incurious, the author's point is that the media had framed the story "Bush didn't learn from McCain" and stuck to it in the face of the facts.

But what caught our eye was the number of scribes who simply repeated the New York Times paraphrase—who recited the Times' tendentious account of what Bush had said about McCain. In paragraph two of the Times story, Richard Berke and Frank Bruni gave this account of what Bush had said:

BERKE AND BRUNI: Mr. Bush passed up several opportunities to embrace Mr. McCain's remedy for overhauling the campaign finance system, the Senator's signature issue. Mr. Bush said he had learned nothing new about reform from Mr. McCain, although he conceded that his challenger had forced him to be a more spirited challenger.
[omitted: discussion and excerpt of Bush interview.]

Bush was never asked if he had "learned anything new" from McCain; in each case, he was asked if McCain had changed Bush's opinion on campaign finance. In each case, Bush said that he had not changed his mind on the issue, then immediately offered a conciliatory second statement. . . .

[Omitted: references to Berke and Bruni and the propagation of their spin to Jim Lehrer on NewsHour and Jay Carney on Inside Politics.]

Al Hunt, on Capital Gang, was also disturbed by The Dub's conduct:

HUNT: After a protracted struggle like this, and you say you basically learned nothing from your opponent, [bold in original] it says you're either incredibly incurious, you're arrogant or most likely you're insecure.

[Omitted: Wolf Blitzer and Tucker Carlson on Late Edition]

There was no news value—none at all—in Bush's continued opposition to McCain's campaign-finance plan. . . . And all over the networks, what happened this weekend? Scripted pundits quoted Bruni and Berke, while saying they were quoting George Bush.


Media Beat - #29 Sep/Oct 97
How Moon Gave Bush a Golden Parachute
by Norman Solomon
Media uncurious about George H. W. Bush

Since leaving the White House, Bush has been quite helpful to Moon. However, the news media have lacked curiosity about Bush's ties to the shadowy power-broker who heads the Unification Church.

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