For the most part, the mainstream media (newspapers, anyway) are resolutely refusing to be thrown off message by John Kerry’s series of gaffes. The New York Times, for example, headlines As Vote Nears, Stances on War Set Off Sparks. The Times leads, not with Kerry’s statement, but with President Bush’s criticism of it, and frames the story as being primarily about the President and the war. You have to read deep into the Times’s article to discover what it was that Bush criticized.
The Washington Post buried the story on page A8. It, too, framed the story as being mainly about the President; its headline is Bush Calls Kerry Remarks Insulting to U.S. Troops. In the Post, at least you don’t have to read to the end of the story to find out what “Kerry’s remarks” were. But both papers spend more space on the unpopularity of the war and on how well Democrats are doing this election cycle than on Kerry’s gaffe and the outrage it has provoked.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s coverage is more straightforward; it recounts Kerry’s comment and the reaction to it without surrounding the story with spin. But the Strib buries its one paragraph of coverage deep inside the paper, as the lead item in a column titled “Iraq Developments.”
The liberal press has a story line for this election, and John Kerry’s exposing how the left really feels about the military isn’t it. This story illustrates, I think, the rift between this country’s two media cultures.
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