Media Handlers

An it would be amusing if it weren’t disturbing story in the NYT today on how the White House stages events and lighting and backdrops to market the president. For example,

  • “…On Tuesday, at a speech promoting his economic plan in Indianapolis, White House aides went so far as to ask people in the crowd behind Mr. Bush to take off their ties, WISH-TV in Indianapolis reported, so they would look more like the ordinary folk the president said would benefit from his tax cut.” [emphasis mine].
  • “…For a speech that Mr. Bush delivered last summer at Mount Rushmore, the White House positioned the best platform for television crews off to one side, not head on as other White Houses have done, so that the cameras caught Mr. Bush in profile, his face perfectly aligned with the four presidents carved in stone.”
  • “…Mr. Sforza and his aides had choreographed every aspect of the [Abraham Lincoln] event, even down to the members of the Lincoln crew arrayed in coordinated shirt colors over Mr. Bush’s right shoulder and the “Mission Accomplished” banner placed to perfectly capture the president and the celebratory two words in a single shot.”

It’s worth a read. On a more substantive level, is it just me or is there a barely detectible shifting in the tone of the press, toward a more skeptical tone regarding Bush’s policies and proclamations? Not so much in what’s being reported (e.g., no “missing year” stories), but rather in the way it’s being said–the tone in an increasing number of stories seems more questioning. From 1999-recently, my most common reaction to a story covering Bush was, “Did Rove write this?”, and I’m getting that less of late. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’ll keep looking for examples. If Somerby is correct, the press aren’t right wing or anti-democrat, just lazy and mindless. So when a few start leaning in one direction, the rest follow (it’s not exactly that they all plagiarize each other, but the end result is largely the same).


I talked about a related subject here, where I speculated “…after the flow comes the ebb. Will conservative news/commentary go the way of Reality TV and Millionaire? I don’t know, but MSNBC is doing its best to drive the format into the ground (of course, for MSNBC’s programming choices to actually affect viewer tastes, somebody would presumably actually have to be watching MSNBC–call me an optimist).”