Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Howard Kurtz on the media and Karl Rove

With Marcie now in school, the site is left to Thomas to handle. While I have no problems with him doing this, given that he is also working while blogging, I decided to take some time out of my day, as it comes to a close, to give him a helping hand. I'd like to draw reader's attention to a piece by Howard Kurtz today. I believe this sheds a little light on the lack of transparency that they have:

From the moment he leaked word of his departure to the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Karl Rove has been lionized and vilified by the media hordes.

He is either a political giant, shrewdly plotting a series of victories during the Bush presidency, or a nation-wrecker, sowing the seeds of division to boost the GOP. The nicknames -- "Bush's Brain," "The Architect" -- match the portrayal of an important historical figure.

But what if journalists are part of an unspoken conspiracy to inflate Rove's importance -- not for ideological reasons but because it makes for a better narrative? What if they are the architects, using well-placed aides to build a stage for inside-dope stories involving Rove and his colleagues?

Or perhaps there's a cruder explanation: that some journalists believe Bush lacks the intellectual heft to achieve big things on his own, so they attribute his most consequential decisions to a powerful Svengali at his side.

This is not to play down Rove's crucial role as the president's longtime confidant and chief strategist, who indeed helped engineer his election triumphs and map a governing approach that emphasized the care and feeding of Bush's conservative base. But was Rove's decision to quit, 17 months before the end of Bush's term, truly deserving of lead-story status in the New York Times, Washington Post and the three nightly newscasts?

The rise of the political consultant as prominent media figure is a relatively recent phenomenon. Once these advisers labored behind the scenes, so that Joe McGinnis's 1968 book "The Selling of the President" seemed revelatory in describing the packaging of Richard Nixon. But in the last two decades, a handful of practitioners -- among them Lee Atwater, Dick Morris, James Carville, Mary Matalin, Robert Shrum -- have become certified celebrities, often writing books about their wizardry.

Political consultants play a key role in any elected official's day-to-day life. They are the strategists behind the moves, and they do have an important role to play. Karl rove was such a man to the president, but like Howard Kurtz, I tend to agree that his departure wasn't worth the lead story when it occurred. Maybe the secondary story or maybe after the lead-in story after the first commercial break. But the media breathlessly reported his departure like it was some sort of weight lifted off the back of the nation.

Karl Rove was not Richard Nixon. He was not Bill Clinton. He was a private figure behind the president that helped him and the GOP win five of the last six elections. He is an important figure, and one that most in the media would have given their eye teeth to interview. Like so many consultants, however, he kept to himself. I might add that the media did seize on the little note he made in the Wall Street Journal interview about possibly writing a book about his tenure in the White House. While I wouldn't mind reading it, I doubt it will offer much insight into the man. Like I said, he's a private figure; very much like Vice President Cheney.

The media's transparency in all of this was the opportunity to act like, well, the partisans they are, and yet deny. but they're coverage couldn't be denied on that night as the TV news brought on critic after critic to lambaste the man they hardly knew, and could only speculate about. Likewise, the same goes for the print media. Everyone of them had to bring up Valerie Plame. A few even went back to 2000 in the South Carolina primaries. In short, it was a Karl Rove beating festival, and the media could have cared less about their presented, "unbiased" image. Their reporting bordered on a veiled level of revenge.

It is sad to see the media act like this. But what are we to expect? When Bill Clinton was leaving office, the media treated the changing of the presidency like some sort of funeral; as if Franklin Roosevelt had died, and the nation was losing a "good" man. Unlike the "kids" I present no illusions with Bill Clinton. While he was the president, and such respect is owed to the man for that, the truth that spilled out of the white House after his departure -- and even prior to with his blatant disregard for the truth -- left me cold to him. I don't like him and I don't trust him. Make no mistake, the "kids" share the same view but it's not as vehement as mine.

Transparency in the media only comes when one of their own is caught, arrested, censured, reprimanded, or otherwise called on the carpet. They will defend that person to their absolute best in an effort to forestall the wave of inquiry and anger from the reputable sources and investigators. It has it's flashes when an ideological enemy is forced to resign, gets caught doing something wrong or illegal, or quits of their own accord. To that, they will attack using invective and innuendo to discredit and defame that person.

That is the transparency of the modern media. It has gone from it's respected "fourth rail" status, serving as an impromptu check against the government to what equates to little more than tabloid reporting, rife with errors and mistakes that they fail to correct, for the most part. That is why the media is dying. No one believes it any longer. A prime example of this can be seen in the movie "V for Vendetta." In it, there is a news report with people around England watching it. It deals with the spin the government is putting on the terrorist known simply as V, and the fact that the government is trying to tie him to an earlier terrorist attack.

A man in a pub says "Can you believe this sh*t?"

Old folks in a senior citizen home are shaking their heads.

A young girl sitting on the couch with her family -- no more than eleven years old, or so -- mutters a simple word: "Bollocks."

The same thing is happening here today. Many people sit down to the watch the news, and when it is all said and done, the reaction is pretty much the same.


Sabrina McKinney


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