Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, December 01, 2003  

Mike Allen of the Washington Post was one of the privileged few to accompany the President on his secret trip to Baghdad. He wrote about the trip here, in a fascinating, if fairly standard article. Even more interesting--and not standard--is his pool report, transcribed on Editor and Publisher. It is the clearest example one could offer about how the press get sucked into the President's bizarro world of counter reality. The President knows a thing or two about impressing the press.

Things started out cloak-and-dagger-y and only got more so:

8:27 p.m. (7:27 p.m. Texan): Air Force One was airborne. Journalists peeked out the shades and saw that the plane had on none of the running lights that are customarily visible, including the red or green ones on the wings. The movie "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" had begun playing in the press cabin.

The journalists form a corps of what will become an incredibly elite group of insiders. Along the way, they are treated to the finest imperial treatment--presidential seals on china and rolled-out carpets--as well pulse-increasing 007 secrecy. Before touching down in Baghdad, everyone is outfitted in "camouflage, Velcro-front 'ballistic vests.'" What happened once they arrived is now well-known--thanks to the work of these very same, wowed reporters.

The President didn't do anything wrong. Taking reporters was a good call. But the way they were treated, and the context of their inclusion, surely affected them more than a little. In what was one of the President's few unambiguous success of recent weeks, it makes me ponder the question: just how out of focus was the lens through which we viewed the whole thing?

posted by Jeff | 12:00 PM |
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