Summing up The Bush Faux Press Conference
"It must be the camera. I'll try a different station," I replied, switching to Fox, but the tie was strobing the same on Fox, on CBS... and I figured they were all using the same video feed. But by then, we'd been distracted from hearing the first minute or two of the speech.
I tried to focus on the top half of the screen. This made it even more obvious that Bush was reading from his script, with minimal eye contact. He droned on. It became clear that this was all a delay tactic to cut into the time he'd have to answer questions. How many times and how many ways can you say "the evildoers hate our democracy," or "we will stay the course," or "things have been tough but we are committed."
These kinds of delay tactics are called "sandbagging," I explained to my son. "It's sooo boring," he moaned. Agreeing, I said, "He's hoping a lot of the viewers will give up and tune out before he gets to the part where the reporters ask him questions."
The pulsing tie caught my eye again. "That tie is driving me nuts. I can't watch it," my son complained. "It's subliminally pulsing at about the same brain-wave frequency that can set up epileptic seizures," I explained. (I didn't mention it, but even if it doesn't set off seizures, the flashing can be very unpleasant. You may have noticed it on some news websites. I can't stand it when I encounter those flashing banners and usually scroll down or change the page when I see them. I figure this was another way to cut down on viewers. Bush does NOT want to be seen answering questions in an impromptu manner.)
Bush droned on for about 18 minutes--fifty percent longer than originally planned. Then the questions started.
It was great to see that real journalists, not plants were, for the most part, called upon (only one Fox "journalist" was called on, and no members of the religious press). And it seemed, for an evening, at least, that the mainstream press reporters were actually manifesting stirring signs of possessing testicles. They asked some fairly tough questions.
The problem was, Bush danced, stumbled and evaded his way through the press conference. He refused to take responsibility for any mistakes, refused to apologize, didn't explain why he was answering 9-11 questions with Cheney cozily sitting next to him. The press conference proved that the mainstream media could ask decent questions and that Bush wouldn't answer them. But only one journalist repeated his question that Bush failed to answer. The rest let him pontificate on and on along the same repetitive themes--'they are bad, we are good, we will stay the course'.
Bush failed to give us any idea about what strategy he has for dealing with the Iraq quagmire. He denied that the uprisings of the last week were any kind of problem. "Al Sadr must answer charges against him and disband his illegal militia," Bush naively stated. He ignored the fact that the different, previously antagonist forces within Iraq have thrown out their differences and joined forces in response against a US that undemocratically shut down a dissident newspaper.
All in all, the result was a very un-satisfying exercise in B.S. The big three networks, within minutes of the conclusion of the press conference, whipped back to their regular sit-com scheduling. CNN dumped a batch of victims of the war and families of soldiers killed in the war to be interviewed by Larry King. I guess that's better than a Tammy Faye Baker re-run. Fox put up some right-wing pundits who, in baritone voices (including the women) chorused how strong Bush was.
The morning after, CNN's "American Morning" covers the latest accusations of child molestation and ABC does a collage on how people are eating fast food with high calories. "You just have to get some good caloric education behind you." the latest diet book author prompted. Katie Couric, wearing glasses, interviews Goran Visnjic, star of the mini-series Spartacus, filmed in Bulgaria. Don Imus, on MSNBC, has Author Mary Higgins Clark on. Air America talks about a pet dog.
The morning after a fake press conference, the press is still asleep.
Be careful. Remember the fields in Oz that Dorothy and her tin man, lion and scarecrow walked through, that lulled them to sleep? The media response to the Iraq quagmire can do it to you. If they switch to reports on Michael Jackson, kidnapped children, surgical separation of conjoined twins, the Lacey Peterson murder or the Koby Bryant trials, consider these distractions and change the channel.
Stay focused. A Fox reporter commented that Bush is noted for staying on message. That's what he did last night--stayed on message while ignoring the questions.
Rob Kall, a Pennsylvanian, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org is editor/founder of OpEdNews.com.
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This story was published on April 14, 2004.