Skip to comments.Why America hates the D.C. media
Posted on 02/22/2006 4:50:06 AM PST by abb
Commentary: Plus, Dick Parsons has no more excuses
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) - It has become a tradition that's almost as old as the White House itself: America loathes the White House press corps.
This is especially true when the journalists preen for the television cameras, yell at the press secretary to achieve a dramatic effect, act bratty and petulant, appear openly disrespectful to the president and the vice president and generally behave like unruly five-year-old children playing in a sandbox.
If you needed a reminder, consider the circus that ensued last week as the media did its best to nail Vice President Dick Cheney with anything it could.
They pursued his lack of remorse over accidentally shooting his 78-year-old friend, Harry Whittington, in Texas during a hunting trip; whether he had been drinking heavily; why he didn't notify the national press himself (instead of allowing the owner of the ranch to call the local Corpus Christi newspaper); if he had betrayed President Bush's trust and why he ultimately granted the only post-shooting interview to Brit Hume, the anchor of the ever-sympathetic-to-Bush Fox News.
Last week, the poster child for inappropriate, self-serving behavior was NBC's David Gregory (GE), the television media's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
When he is working the White House beat, Gregory can be a very good and tenacious reporter. He is fearless, smart and analytical. In short, the journalistic side of Gregory could serve as a role model for his colleagues. But when he stands up at one of those pathetic no-news-allowed White House press briefings, he is a role model for one of those kids in the sandbox.
I can appreciate that it's frustrating when an organization does every thing it can to undermine independent reporting.
Pssst, David: It's just bad form to try to make White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan look like your own personal piñata - even when he deserves that kind of treatment. Yes, it worked once for ABC's Sam Donaldson, but that was then.
Also, it doesn't serve a purpose for you - or one of your peers - to be shown losing your cool. Even if McClellan stands there like a statue, he looks classier than a reporter - even one who is justifiably exasperated - who is in the act of throwing a fit.
A recent exchange between Gregory and McClellan reminded me of the time, during the height of President Richard Nixon's Watergate crisis, when the embattled Nixon baited then-CBS White House correspondent Dan Rather. Nixon, egging on the combustible Rather, pointedly asked him, "Are you running for something?" And Rather retorted, "No, Mr. President, are you?"
NBC recently provided this exchange on the Internet:
McClellan: "David, hold on, the cameras aren't on right now. You can do this later."
Gregory: "Don't accuse me of trying to pose for the cameras. Don't be a jerk to me personally when I'm asking you a serious question."
McClellan: "You don't have to yell."
Gregory: "If you want to use the-that podium to try to take shots at me personally, which I don't appreciate, then I will raise my voice because that's wrong."
McClellan: "Calm down, Dave, calm down."
Gregory: "I'll calm down when I feel like calming down. You answer the question."
When "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert asked Gregory to elaborate on Sunday's show, Gregory said: "I think I made a mistake. I think it was inappropriate for me to lose my cool with the press secretary representing the president. I don't think it was professional of me. I was frustrated, I said what I said, but I think that you should never speak that way, as my wife reminded me, number one. And number two, I think it created a diversion from some of the serious questions in the story, so I regret that. I was wrong, and I apologize."
I think Gregory buried the lead - as he said himself, he obscured serious issues by making himself the focus of the story.
I hope he and his colleagues will get as worked up about the government's awful plan to contract the operation of six major U.S. ports to Dubai's DP World. Go to it, David.
Back to work for Parsons
Presumably, Time Warner Chairman (TWX) Dick Parsons & Co. have finished celebrating the decision by corporate raider Carl Icahn to end his attempt to call the shots at the world's largest media company.
Icahn's gambit was pretty weird. He didn't EXACTLY want to take over the company (but he clearly had grown impatient for Parsons' tortoise-like pace).
It's put-up-or-shut-up time for Parsons and his management team. If he can't come up with a coherent strategy to boost Time Warner's stock market prospects, he has only himself to blame.
Parsons has sold off a few properties (such as Time Warner's stake in the Comedy Central cable channel and the parent's meandering music division) over the past few years. Those constructive moves sharply reduced the company's debt burden but it seemed a lot like addition by subtraction to some skeptics.
The company's stock has hardly budged in recent years from its perch in the high teens, a condition that alternately infuriates and bewilders Time Warner's fed-up shareholders.
Parsons had a shot at achieving true greatness early in his tenure. But he couldn't bring himself to do what seemed essential: unload Albatross Online - oops, I meant America Online.
Maybe Parsons' ego couldn't permit him to run a markedly smaller company. Perhaps he truly believes that AOL will make a Phoenix-like comeback. Or, it's possible that Parsons is simply a stubborn guy who can't admit that it was a huge mistake to let Time Warner be acquired by AOL in the first place.
Parsons can argue that it was a decision made by his predecessor, Gerald Levin, and that's true. But it's also the case that Parsons, as Levin's top lieutenant, literally sat at his boss's side as he tried to sell the media and Wall Street on the wisdom of the deal. Parsons' supporters have defended him by falling back on the chaos caused by the AOL deal, the government's prolonged investigation into AOL's business practices (since settled), and now Icahn's interference.
Now the decks are clear. It's all up to him. No more excuses.
MEDIA WEB QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you hate the Washington press corps?
WEDNESDAY PET PEEVE: As it turned out, Fox News can, indeed, seem every bit as petty as CNN. Fox's Chris Wallace shunned CNN during his Sunday talk show when he talked about an interview with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff (who also appeared on CBS that morning). CNN had done the same to Fox a few days earlier when Brit Hume got an exclusive with Cheney. Neither CNN nor Fox would credit the other by name. Talk about acting like kids in a sandbox.
A READER RESPONDS: "I enjoyed your comments about CNN not recognizing Fox, but please be fair. Fox may be friendly to the Bush administration, but have you ever heard of the Clinton News Network: CNN?" Douglas Arnold (Media Web appears on most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays)
I wish we could clone Rumsfeld and have him as the Press Secretary.
Is that Scrum or just plain ole Scum?
Neither Clinton or even Ronald Reagan were treated as badly and rudely as President Bush.
These SOB's represent a new low in garbage urinalism!
Dictionary.com - Scrum: Chiefly British. A disordered or confused situation involving a number of people.
America hates the DC Media because they are simply DNC water-carriers.
...who loudly squawk at every opportunity about how impartial and unbiased they are.
Scrum is a rugby term and it fits the activities of the WH press whores to a T
How true. There is no respect for the office of the President and no code of conduct enforced or in place for the media. Whatever happened to politeness and civility?
Partisanship aside, The Press Corps is a joke. If you sit down and listen to the conferences, you hear 2 or 3 questions that ask for facts. The rest are Begging the Question fallacies, moronic queries, or political agenda with a question mark at the end.
Anyone that didn't see this one coming....pinch yourself....
I remeber Fitzwater under Bush Sr. getting it pretty bad during the Gulf war, althogh it seemed that Fitz was better at protecting himself and putting a positive spin on the crap thrown at him.
Just damn.... my oat bran is backing up on me now...
I said "pinch yourself"...not a loaf!
Rumsfeld would be a good choice. But R. Lee Ermey would be entertaining as all get out.
Sure, the press will be infuriated as will their followers. But a similar number of folks will view it as a good, long overdue move and support the administration.
There is nothing here that can't be accomplished by a web-based daily press release by the WH followed by hours of blow-dried liberal media whining about every last syllable.
I have more New York Slimes Editions on my FR Homepage and my Archives Page
I think dissolving the press corps has merit ( as it currently exists). Being a member of the press shouldn't be thought of as an exclusive club. As far as I'm concerned, a small media outlet should have the same access to the press secretary as a large media outlet, and no reporter should have exclusive access. Perhaps a lottery system or, as you stated, using the net can be helpful.
Your "Slimes" is too funny....I absolutely love it!! Thanks.All I can say is that I'm glad my Cheerios have holes in them or I might have choked to death reading your "Slimes" report this morning.
General "Don't get stuck on stupid" Honore should be the press secretary.
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