The President’s End Run

Yesterday President Bush gave interviews on Iraq to five regional broadcasting companies in an effort to go around the mainstream media’s biased coverage. The Washington Post reports:
“The Bush administration, displeased with the news coverage of the war in Iraq, has accelerated efforts to bypass the national media by telling the administration’s story directly to the American public.”
In the interviews, Bush was openly critical of mainstream news coverage of the war, expressing “a sense that people in America aren’t getting the truth.” He added: “I’m mindful of the filter through which some news travels, and somehow you just got to go over the heads of the filter and speak directly to the people.”
The Post article is by Democratic hit-man Dana Milbank, who is still covering the White House even though the Post recently had to apologize for his misrepresenting an interview given by Dick Cheney. Milbank quotes the usual suspects saying that the regional broadcasters aren’t sophisticated enough to ask the “tough questions” like CBS and NBC, and weaves his account of the President’s interviews together with the story of the identical letters sent by soldiers in Iraq, as though they were somehow the same. Which simply proves the Administration’s point; they’re never going to come out ahead when everything they say is interpreted and spun by people like Milbank.
Yesterday’s interviews are part of a long-standing administration effort to get around the Democratic press and take their case, on various issues, more directly to the people. They should continue and expand this effort; in fact, Republicans should actively undermine the assumption that the broadcast networks, the major daily newspapers and Time and Newsweek are the “real” news media. The President should give exclusive interviews on important topics to journalists like Brit Hume or Tony Snow on Fox News. He should give live, on-air interviews to talk radio hosts like Hugh Hewitt. These journalists are more intelligent, better informed and fairer than their “mainstream” Democratic counterparts. Why should the President not acknowledge this fact?
And he and other administration officials should criticize Democratic jounalists and news outlets by name. The Democratic news media have overplayed their hand, and everyone knows how biased they are. (I’ll link to a recent Gallup poll on this issue later in the day.) Why should hacks like Dana Milbank get a free pass to attack the administration on behalf of the Democrats, in the guise of objective journalism?
In short, the current effort should be only the beginning of a broader campaign to weaken the authority of the Demcratic media, build up the fairer, alternative media, and take the President’s case directly to the people.


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