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”?