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

Saturday, March 20, 2004  

Testing the Media's Independence

Not only is Bush attempting to saddle Kerry with the title of dictator-coddling, confused coward, but he has the temerity to announce it as part of a precise 90-day strategy of slander:

President Bush's campaign is following an aggressive and precise 90-day media strategy to define Senator John Kerry as indecisive and lacking conviction, with a coordinated blitz of advertisements, speeches and sound bites, senior campaign advisers said this week.

The goal, several campaign aides said, is to first strip Mr. Kerry of the positive image that he carried away from the Democratic primary contests and then to define him issue by issue in their own terms before the summer vacation season. The central thrusts will be national security and taxes, they said.

The aides said the strategy was planned weeks ago in coordination with Karl Rove, Mr. Bush's chief political aide, while Mr. Kerry was battling for his party's nomination.

The aides are following a tight timetable, they said, and they want to have defined Mr. Kerry on their terms between now and early June, when they expect voters to stop paying close attention to politics, at least for a time.

If there was ever an action that was more wholly symbolic of the approach of this administration, I'd be hard-pressed to come up with it. What arrogance! The administration is in effect saying: "we plan to subvert the media's voice, and we're telling you ahead of time how we plan to do that so that you (the media) may more effectively capitulate to it. We intend to create a wholly artificial impression of a presidential candidate that we created from careful focus-grouping and polling, and we expect you to dutifully present it as fact." It is, by the way, also a fantastically arrogant view of the malleability of the electorate:

"The goal is right now," said a Bush adviser, "while he's weak, while they're financially struggling, to strip him of all the good that somehow in my opinion erroneously got attached to him."

Poor, woeful voters, somehow attaching "all the good" to this candidate. The Bushies will soon disabuse them of their own opinions. When they're done, a quarter of a billion dollars later, they will have instilled the proper beliefs into the heads of the feebleheaded voters.

The real question is whether the press will go along with it. Even a quarter of a billion dollars won't help if the paid advertisements run starkly in contrast to what journalists report. The Bushies aren't worried, though. They obviously think reporters will fall in line and parrot their talking points. Bushies have little reason to think otherwise--so far the press hasn't challenged the President even once when he rolls out one of his embarrassingly dubious claims.

What's amazing is that the administration is not only confident the press will fall in line, but they're confident they can show them exactly which manipulations they'll use and still expect them to fall in line. Will they? Time will tell.

posted by Jeff | 9:39 AM |
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