Friday, August 19, 2005

The Liberal Media Myth

Newsweek's latest issue contains this story titled "I'm So Sorry" about the emotional toll military deaths take on George W. Bush.

Personally, I'm glad he's tormented. He should be. But such is not the slant of the article. On the contrary, it appears designed to directly counter the opinion expressed by Cindy Sheehan that when she met with Bush shortly after her son died last year, Bush seemed to have no conscience about the war and no real feelings of empathy for her as a fallen soldier's mother. This piece seems to serve a rehabilitative function for Bush, to the extent that the Cindy Sheehan story has hurt his image.

A telling excerpt:

President Bush was wearing "a huge smile," but his eyes were red and he looked drained by the time he got to the last widow, Crystal Owen, a third-grade schoolteacher who had lost her husband in Iraq. "Tell me about Mike," he said immediately. "I don't want my husband's death to be in vain," she told him. The president apologized repeatedly for her husband's death. When Owen began to cry, Bush grabbed her hands. "Don't worry, don't worry," he said, though his choking voice suggested that he had worries of his own. The president and the widow hugged. "It felt like he could have been my dad," Owen recalled to NEWSWEEK. "It was like we were old friends. It almost makes me sad. In a way, I wish he weren't the president, just so I could talk to him all the time."
I will say that noting that Bush did meet with Cindy Sheehan once already is an important part of the story that should not be omitted, as is the statistic that he's in fact met with about 900 family members of 270 or so soldiers who have died in Afghanistan or Iraq. And to be fair the article does take some shots at the president. For example, the article suggests that perhaps some of his emotionalism is simply his "agonizing over the war he chose to start" and lists a string of complaints he hears from military families:

He has been asked about missing medals on the returned uniform of a loved one, about financial assistance for a child going to college and about how soldiers really died when the Pentagon claimed the details were classified.
But what's truly amazing about this article is that it was recommended to me by a Republican friend who constantly insists that the media is liberal but offered this article without any sense of irony. There are a few serious problems with the liberal media myth. One is that it conveniently ignores certain facts such as that more newspapers endorsed Bush in 2000 than endorsed Gore. It also ignores the current media climate in which media moguls, no matter how liberal, are pro-Republican because it means less media ownership regulation, which means more profits for them. But the real fallacy of the liberal media myth is that for Republicans it is merely a Stuart Smalley-like daily affirmation: if the media is opposed to a Republican, it's because they're partisan and liberal; if the media is sympathetic toward a Republican, then what they say must be true because they're so damn liberal. So, according to this theory, the Republican is always on the right of the issue. It's like a lullaby that rocks Republicans into a false sense of self-righteousness when the reality is that the media is full of pro-Bush pieces like this Newsweek article.

But for my Republican friend, it doesn't disprove his liberal media claim, it is simply proof that Bush is a really emotional sympathetic guy because if it weren't true the liberal media wouldn't be writing it. My Republican friend demands intellectual honesty yet refuses to exercise it himself.

Don't believe me that this is a pro-Bush propagandistic puff piece? Here, read the end of the article below. Cue the strings and get ready to swoon:

Before Bush left the meeting, he paused in the middle of the room and said to the families, "I will never feel the same level of pain and loss you do. I didn't lose anyone close to me, a member of my family or someone that I love. But I want you to know that I didn't go into this lightly. This was a decision that I struggle with every day."

As he spoke, Ascione could see the grief rising through the president's body. His shoulder slumped and his face turned ashen. He began to cry and his voice choked. He paused, tried to regain his composure and looked around the room. "I am sorry, I'm so sorry," he said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Todd says: the opinion expressed by Cindy Sheehan that when she met with Bush shortly after her son died last year, Bush seemed to have no conscience about the war and no real feelings of empathy for her as a fallen soldier's mother.

Funny, because the following is lifted from an interview Cindy Sheehan did with her local (Vacaville, CA) newspaper after she met with President Bush:

"I now know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis," Cindy said after their meeting. "I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith."

"That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together," Cindy said.

I think the only thing that's being reinforced here is that Todd is a tool.

BTW Todd, I'm still waiting for you to demonstrate your "open mindedness" by attempting to dialogue with actual veterans and combat vets. Tic Tock ... Tic Tock ... Tic Tock.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more quick question for you Todd ... did you lift this article and commentary off of DU, or did you actually read the thing after I linked to it several postings ago?

3:46 PM  

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