Thursday, August 02, 2007

Tu Quoque

[posted by Callimachus]

It's amusing to watch the Democratic cheerleaders hiss Bush for snubbing a journalist (technically a "BBC political editor," which suggests a little more than a working stiff in a trench coat and fedora) whose ideological underpinnings he dislikes:

It’s not enough that Bush refuses to answer a question from a respected member of the international press ...

and at the same time cheering the John Edwards campaign to have all Democrats snub Fox News, whose ideological underpinnings they dislike.

"The time has come for Democrats to stop pretending to be friends with the very people who demonize the Democratic Party," Edwards said in a statement.

The whole Bush administration has made it clear from the start that it does not regard the media's role in the U.S. political process as constitutionally established -- something the media often overlooks about itself. The administration has made it clear it will talk to whomever it wants to talk to, and ignore whomever it wants to, without regard for the media's own pecking order or sense of the relative weight and importance of its outlets.

So Cheney announces to a small-town Texas newspaper that he accidentally shot a friend, and Bush's general in Iraq gives a key interview to a Republican-boosting blogger, and non-mainstream conservative news outlets get passes to the White House press conferences.

And the gatekeeper media has a fit, while the Democrats cry foul. But at the same time, they adjust to the new rules and quickly learn to apply them to their advantage.

There is some consequence and some disadvantage to democracy in the president cherry-picking his media. The shift in the White House is a result of changes in the nature of the U.S. media in the past 30 years. The Democrats may decry it if they like, but unless their next president intends to revert to some earlier model of media relations, and intends to give Fox AND the BBC equal access, they are being hypocritical.

P.S.: I'd call it a "dis," not an insult. Nick Robinson, the BBC journalist, got into a junior high school-worthy contest of quick wits with George W. Bush, and somehow the British journalist lost to the stupid American cowboy. That could hurt more than the "insult" itself, which, after all, was pretty mild for a man who gets called a "fucking pillock" by politicians at home.