The choices are really quite simple. Either you wholeheartedly back the President’s foreign policy or you are unpatriotic. Either you say positive things about the war on terror and in Iraq or you are a traitor. And either you cover the war in Iraq the way the administration (made up of, as we all know, some of the toughest, battle-worn, heroic, courageous, tough guys in U.S. history) wants it covered or you are a wimp.
Paul Wolfowitz explains: “Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors.”
(I wonder if “they publish rumors” refers to the pre-war coverage of the WMD question?)
Forget for a second the most obvious offenses of such a statement. And let’s pretend that the media is not giving us enough of the good news stories out of Iraq and is focusing too heavily on the relentless violence and increasing anti-Americanism (which is an argument that can be made). Could there be any less effective way to get the media to cover the story your way than to question the integrity and bravery of a group of journalists who have been the victims of killings, kidnappings and drive-by shootings?
On MSNBC, Wolfowitz followed up on his comments by accusing NBC and others of not being “balanced” in a clear plug for the nonsense oozing out of Fox News headquarters.
I understand the desire to in essence run against the media. But this is just public relations 101. Why would anyone want to completely piss off the press at the very moment when he wants more positive coverage of an unfolding strategy? And while it’s one thing the stand by and watch the crud being spewed by biased morons like Hannity et al, it’s an altogether different matter when administration officials are plugging the network and in effect leaning on it for support.
It is nothing at all new for the Bush team to distance itself from the press. But a full-on personal attack? These are desperate signs.