Belaboring the Obvious

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Courting the Bully....

I suppose the Washington press corps thinks that they have to maintain a humane relationship with the President, because of the institution, and that's why there are White House Correspondents Association dinners. But, I wonder how this chumminess grew into the sort of sycophantic exhibition it has lately become--until Stephen Colbert's surgical filleting of both press and President last year.

Now that dependable and inoffensive Rich Little is the headliner of the WHCA's upcoming event, there's a sense, from that choice, that the WHCA has chosen to head off any controversy this year. This particular bunch of reporters has, fairly consistently, sucked up to this bad, bad President for too long, and this is one more indication of the extent to which White House reporters have been sucked into the vortex of the Beltway Effect. The Bushies have--almost from the start--bent the press over its knee and spanked it, told it to be good or no access. The press, ever since, has been quite willing to be polite to maintain that prized access. It started with the press' docile acceptance of Bush's preppy, and sometimes snotty, nicknaming of the members of the White House press, and it hasn't let up since.

In much earlier days, a press treated that way would have been sharpening its long knives for such a White House.

What's missing, mostly, is even remnants of an adversarial press. From attending Bush's barbecues to cutesy--and apparently genuine--laughter at Bush's deeply warped jokes ("nope, no WMDs there..."), there's a sense of the unreal about the relationship of the press and this particular occupant of the Oval Office.

What we have is one of the worst presidents in history, a bumbling, lying ideologue whose only talents seem to be for destruction and waste and rancor of the most partisan kind, and the press treats him like its favorite uncle, and its members behave as if they are his courtiers. Sure, there are exceptions--Helen Thomas, for one, and occasionally, David Gregory (whose aggressive questioning in the gaggle often isn't mirrored in his on-air reporting during NBC's Nightly News).

This reversion to safer comedic territory, despite the protestations otherwise, is yet another indication that DC's worst disease--clubbiness--is still epidemic. In the meantime, the country has undergone massive failures of government and a level of corruption that is literally unprecedented in modern times. The Republican Congress behaved like an organized crime syndicate, and the Washington press corps seemingly didn't notice--most of the better reporting on Congressional scandal came from newspapers in the hinterlands, such as the San Diego Union-Tribune on the Duke Cunningham bribery case, for example. It's as if the Washington press corps, too busy seeking invitations to the best parties with the best cocktail weenies, forgot its job.

It took a long, long time for the public to come around to the truth about the origins of the Iraq war--much longer than it should have taken if the press had been diligent about informing that public. Simply passing on, credulously, what the White House utters about anything is not informing the public--it's acting as the propaganda arm for an administration.

The first sign that the press was once again taking its job seriously--in a time of dire need for it to do so--would be for the WHCA to cancel its little hail-fellow-well-met get-togethers with this President for the duration. The second would be to reduce the breathless coverage of every White House pronouncement and put those freed-up reporters on the investigation of this President's many wrongdoings.

Rich Little, indeed.


  • Nice rant. Bush's last rubberstamp congress compares to Hugo Chavez' current legislature, BTW.

    By Blogger Vigilante, at 9:42 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home