Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Bush Event Was Staged?! Shocker!

This is hilarious. The media is up in arms about this tele-conference call Bush had with troops in Iraq. The fact that it was staged is somehow news. It's been on all day, now it's on Yahoo News main page and NBC Nightly News led with it tonight. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the media is finally treating the administration with the skepticism they deserve; it's rewarding to see their finally wanting in on the reality-based community. But news? Come on, if it hadn't been staged, that would be news.

I'm reminded of Bob Herbert's column in which he marveled at the front page New York Times article about liberals feeling dismayed at the realization that perhaps all that stuff Bush promised after Katrina would never be delivered.

The article noted that some liberal activists had hoped that the extraordinary suffering caused by Hurricane Katrina might lead to a genuine effort by the administration and Congress to address such important poverty-related matters as health care, housing, employment and race...I assumed that most people watching the president realized that he was deeply embedded in a Karl Rove moment. The speech was a carefully scripted, meticulously staged performance designed primarily to halt the widespread criticism of Mr. Bush's failure to respond more quickly to the tragedy.

As the president spoke, it never occurred to me that anyone would buy into the notion that Mr. Bush and his supporters would actually do something about poverty and racism.

And the fact that Scott McClellan tried to deny it was staged in the press briefing? Again, Scotty's obfuscations are news only to the mainstream media:
Q: Scott, why did the administration feel it was necessary to coach the soldiers that the President talked to this morning in Iraq?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry, I don't know what you're suggesting...I'm sorry, are you suggesting that what our troops were saying was not sincere, or what they said was not their own thoughts?

Q: So you're saying this was not a staged conversation for PR purposes?
MR. McCLELLAN: This is an event where there's coordination that goes on and we work closely with the Department of Defense. They worked to pull together some troops for the President to visit with and highlight important topics that are going on right now on the ground in Iraq.

This is how it went down, according to The AP:
It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.

"This is an important time," Allison Barber, deputy assistant defense secretary, said, coaching the soldiers before Bush arrived. "The president is looking forward to having just a conversation with you."

Barber said the president was interested in three topics: the overall security situation in Iraq, security preparations for the weekend vote and efforts to train Iraqi troops.
A brief rehearsal ensued.

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.

"If the question comes up about partnering — how often do we train with the Iraqi military — who does he go to?" Barber asked.

"That's going to go to Captain Pratt," one of the soldiers said.

"And then if we're going to talk a little bit about the folks in Tikrit — the hometown — and how they're handling the political process, who are we going to give that to?" she asked.

Manipulating this event to advance an agenda without disclosing the programmed nature of it is called propaganda, Mr. President. You should know that word by now, you've engaged in enough of it. Remember this?

Armstrong Williams, a conservative commentator, had been touting the No Child Left Behind education reform law in newspaper columns and television shows. Favorable television stories about administration health initiatives carried sign-offs like "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting." In Spanish it was "Alberto Garcia." And a syndicated columnist, Maggie Gallagher, repeatedly praised President Bush's Healthy Marriage initiative. It turned out that all these favorable - and sometimes fawning - news stories and commentaries, ostensibly legitimate and independent, had been written and paid for by government agencies or by hired public relations firms.
Guess what?
The Government Accountability Office declared that many of these government expenditures were illegal.
What a shocker.


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