All the President’s Pets

If you still doubt that the media game is rigged after reading Eric Boehlert, then there’s no evidence on the planet that would convince you that it is. But it is.

By Todd Gitlin
Issue Date: 07.05.06
Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush by Eric Boehlert (Free Press, 352 pages, $25.00)

It will come as no surprise to readers of these pages that the galloping pack of Washington journalists has spent much of the last five and a half years rolling over for an alternately (and sometimes simultaneously) fanatical, inept, mendacious, and clueless George W. Bush. In the run-up to war, they gave him the benefit of many undeserved doubts. When he claimed to accomplish his mission, they saluted. They buried their doubts and when the time came for apologies displayed remarkably little curiosity as to how they had acquired so many sins to apologize for. Even today, with Bush’s approval ratings on the shadowy side of one-third and his coalition unraveling, they leave much of his malfeasance and that of his entourage barely noticed. When they do unearth telling dots, they soon re-inter them unconnected.

If you have any doubt, read Eric Boehlert’s devastating book. Read it and weep, tear your hair, rend your garments, gnash your teeth. If you still doubt, you must in all honesty ask yourself what evidence it would take to convince you that the game is rigged.

Choose pages of Boehlert at random. You’ll be reminded, if you needed reminding, how regularly Tim Russert lies down for Republicans. (In 2004, Meet the Press had room around its round tables for 13 times as many conservatives as liberals, though during the first 10 months of 2005 the ratio slumped to a mere 3-to-1.) You’ll discover Ted Koppel covering for Colin Powell and Gwen Ifill doing likewise for Condoleezza Rice. And who can forget the moment when Time deemed Ann Coulter a “public intellectual” worthy of cover treatment, and, scouring her oeuvre, failed to “find many outright Coulter errors”?

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No Comments to “Eric Boehlert's book is a must-read”

  • I haven’t read his book, but then I don’t need to to know what has happened in the last 6 years. The difference in the way the press dealt with the unliberal and very centrist Bill Clinton and the way they have dealt with the right wing extremist Bush says all you need to know.

    At this point it would have to be wilfull ignorance not see what is in front of you.

  • The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
    ~Thomas Jefferson, Patriot & Founding Father~

  • Not that this is unusual, the MSM has always rolled over for the popular culture that has been set by the over class in the system we reside. Pandering to the political, the rich and famous has been a main stay of American journalism for ever. And Rove created his GWB cultural Icon carefully before he implemented their strategy as their propaganda machine primed the press and public. I believe the large difference in this case is to the degree they have let this administration slide… and that, as usual simply boils down to how much ride can you buy. Apparently a long one in this case.

    The media certainly has chucked many long standing journalistic rules of ethic lately, but this has been an evolving issue with the rise of the yellow media, pundit rant radio and the addition of pundit cabal news of the 80’s and 90’s. Studying other historical periods of caustic transition or stress will surly reveal similar regressive movement on the part of media. I believe the good news is that for the most part the shallow corporatist values that are currently portrayed in the MSM will wane or wither with the first sign of economic recession or calamity, and then they will be perceived for what they are. Hopefully we may recover from the damage without any long term repercussions, but that remains to be seen with this current group of powerful people that represent our leadership of government and industry.

    I hope I will have time to read this book, but my real concern is that reformist research and debate on this subject reaches the up and coming journalists of tomorrow in the classrooms of today. It may impart foresight into the mechanisms of change that allow these paradigm shifts in an industry vulnerable to human inconsistency or frailty. As it is an Industry that must resist the usual temptations and maintain rigorous professional standards of ethic.

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