The White House received some serious hand-rubbing good political news in the last week of November: passing a new Medicare bill, watching economic growth numbers revised upward to a startling 8.2 percent, and on Thanksgiving, the president secretly jetting into Baghdad to meet with wildly cheering troops.
With all this positive news, you just knew it wouldn't take long for liberals in the media to complain about pro-Bush media bias.
On "Fox News Sunday," Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly sulked because the White House won't allow camera access to flag-draped coffins coming off planes at Dover Air Force Base, and complained about how the press was "never" allowed into Bush campaign fundraisers in 2000. Her conclusion: "George Bush, from the time he was a candidate in 2000, right on through Thanksgiving Day, has absolutely controlled, maybe even manipulated the press."
Pardon me, but it's hard to stop laughing.
This claim demands sarcasm. I'm sure reporters remember how they were all manipulated by Bush during the 2000 campaign cycle to "report" about how maybe, just maybe he snorted cocaine at some time in his party-hearty past. I'm sure they'll never forget how Bush insisted they tell the voters what a lame-brained bumpkin they thought he was. I'm positive journalists can recall absolutely being forced to hyperventilate on the airwaves about tabloid stories claiming "Bush knew" about September 11, but failed to stop it, right? Or how Time was conned by the White House into putting "Mission NOT Accomplished" on its cover? Even today, reporters are being fooled into noting each lost soldier with the trope that "that's now (insert number here) American deaths since President Bush declared major combat operations over."
That's how Bush is "controlling" the press.
But there's something quite annoying at the center of Connolly's complaint: that arrogant notion that journalists must be granted access to positively everything, or the world is shrouded in dangerous secrecy -- unless it involves a Clinton scandal, in which case it's time for America to "move on."
What liberal reporters are griping about is their fervent partisan desire not for policy substance, but for the damaging visual: They want to present a split screen of Bush speaking over video of military coffins being unloaded off airplanes -- which is exactly what CNN did to the first President Bush.