Media Question Administration Candor

The media, which in this case includes both print and electronic, are getting on my last nerve.

Every time I turn on the news I'm bombarded with earnest talking heads that question erstwhile government officials and military folk on the progress of "The War."

Not only are their questions inane, they are repeated ad infinitum nauseaum. "Are we loosing the war?" "Will we need to use ground forces?" "Is the Taliban stronger than we thought?" "How can we get them out of the caves?" "Are we moving to slowly?" "Are we bombing enough?"

There are two opinion pieces in the Washington, Ooops make that the, today that make my point. One by Richard Cohen, "War Behind Schedule," and another by E. J. Dionne Jr. "... Impatient Rumblings."
Mr. Cohen while admitting that there are two different opinions in Washington as to the progress of the war, can't help himself from taking a shot at the administration.

"Whatever the case, this war appears to be behind schedule. The administration, of course, will not say so. But this administration is already operating from a credibility deficit. It is hard to forget that concoction of fibs trotted out to explain and excuse Bush's hop-scotching the country on Sept. 11. Air Force One itself had been targeted, it was said; a credible threat, we were told. As it turned out, neither the threat nor the administration's account of it was credible." he said.

He then goes on to dredge up the specter of Viet Nam and concludes his rant with, "The war is not off to a great start. We know that. We are not worried. We are prepared for a bitter and lengthy fight. We don't expect miracles but we do expect candor. So far, we have received neither."

E. J. Jr begins his piece with, "President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld are annoyed with the U.S. news media. They say journalists are impatient for a quick victory in Afghanistan while the American people are infinitely patient and understand how difficult this war will be."

"They are correct that the vast majority of Americans will have patience for what they regard as a just war. But nurturing that patience will require the administration to be less defensive, more candid and capable of distinguishing tough but fair questions from outright assaults."

Tough but fair questions? Has this guy listened to any of the SecDef press conferences? Here's one from an unidentified (and protected by his/her colleagues) media maven. "Mr. Secretary, if the Taliban are indeed hiding in Mosques and other civilian buildings, wouldn't it be proper for us to drop leaflets, a few days in advance, telling the civilians that those buildings were targets, so they could get out of harms way?"

Tough but fair? It sounds more like a line from Dumb and Dumber. I'm surprised it didn't make O'Reilly's Most Ridiculous Item of the day segment.

Here is a cut from the transcript from Secretary Rumsfeld Media Availability en Route from India:

"Q: This is it. It's a big build up. We're just interested and wondering what you are doing about the report that members of al Qaeda are trying to arrange marriages for their daughters with various Afghans?

Rumsfeld: It's interesting.

Q: Do they see the end coming or are they worried about their future or something?

Rumsfeld: What's your follow-up? (Laughter and cross talk).

Q: You can take it as a joke question but it's actually semi-serious. (More laughter and cross talk)

Q: They know they're losing the war and they're starting to sell their daughters -"

Another example of fair and tough questions. What are these people thinking? Is this an example of what they think the American people want to know? More of an insult than an assault.

The thread that ties these rants together is the questioning of the administrations candor.

President Bush has been extremely candid from the beginning. He told us it would be a long war. (Afghanistan is just the first campaign.) He told us it would be a different kind of war. He told us we would not see everything that goes on. And, he told us, we would win! I think that is about as candid as it gets.

For my friends in the Fourth Estate I provide the following:
can·did adjective

1. honest: or direct in a way that people find either refreshing or distasteful

Well perhaps they do understand the meaning. They seem to find the Presidents candor distasteful.

© 2001 John Galt

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