The Wearing o' the Negativity

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Mar 20, 2006 11:06 AM

I was on a trip this weekend. As such, I missed much of the MSM Festival O' Negativity on the Occasion of a Three-Year Anniversary of an American War Effort. I know this is rude of me. I know the media had it planned for weeks and I know they worked very hard.

But I did have my Blackberry with me and was able to catch just a couple gems from this weekend. I wanted to share them with you because, Lord knows, they deserve a wide, wide audience. And it's apparent the reporters worked extra hard this weekend to bring you fresh, unbiased, level-headed reporting.

First, Exhibit A. The headline alone is a work of art: Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments in Speeches

I looked for one of those "news analysis" tags on this AP story, but there was none to be found. No, Jennifer Loven had found a way to ever-so-deftly sell this as a straight-up news story. And, it's a good thing, too, or I would never have known that politicians often speak in such a way as to make their own arguments sound reasonable while simultaneously making their opponents look bad.

Bush has caricatured the other side for years, trying to tilt legislative debates in his favor or score election-season points with voters.

Shocked, I am. And he does all of this to win legislative debates and elections? Bush, you are more dastardly that I had ever imagined. And, just look at the bill of goods he's been selling us:

Usually without targeting Democrats specifically, Bush has suggested they are big-spenders who want to raise taxes, because most oppose extending some of his earlier tax cuts, and protectionists who do not want to open global markets to American goods, when most oppose free-trade deals that lack protections for labor and the environment.

Portraying Dems as tax-hikers and protectionists? Where did he ever get an idea like that and how have we so easily fallen prey to his linguistic machinations? Once again-- actual news story, purported to be balanced and objective. It bears repeating.

Exhibit B: Bush Marks Anniversary, Never Says War

President Bush marked the anniversary of the Iraq war Sunday by touting the efforts to build democracy there and avoiding any mention of the daily violence that rages three years after he ordered an invasion.

The president didn't utter the word "war."

Ah, my weekly nip o' the Nedra Pickler (which, by the way, I've always thought would make a fabulous name for some specialty martini at nerdy, inside-the-Beltway bars).

Now, the President undoubtedly has a duty to address the violence in Iraq, as he will undoubtedly do during what Nedra calls his "public relations blitz" this week, in which he'll give a series of speeches on Iraq. See how this game works? Bush talks for two minutes and doesn't use the word war-- he's being elusive, dishonest, and tight-lipped. Bush goes on a multi-city speaking tour about Iraq-- it's all for the P.R. and the building of straw men.

Didn't the press used to be better at this? It used to be that if they wanted to say the President was using straw men or avoiding the word "war," they'd at least do us the courtesy of finding a liberal professor to say it for them. There may have even been a class on that in j-school. They seem to have given up on even the my-opinion-by-proxy method in these two pieces.

UPDATE: I missed it earlier, but John Hinderaker at PowerLine and Mark Steyn have both commented on the Loven piece.