By Turns Doubtful, Doleful, and Downright Defensive

On Daily Kos, DemFromCT ponders how journalists will handle the new news about Abu Ghraib — what with all the other very important things competing for air time and inches — and somehow comes out doubting the press’ ability to cover the story properly. “With the RNC coming up, there’s just a few days left to talk about real issues, real problems,” DemFromCT declares. “But releasing bad news now is like the Friday night news dumps this administration loves. They count on the media to non-handle the story (too busy with the Olympics and campaign commercials). Well, this one might be a little hard to ignore.”

They’re ignoring it for now over at, but Walt does share that he looks forward to “Republicans explain[ing] their agenda for the next four years” at next week’s convention — “in contrast to the Democratic Convention” which to Walt’s mind “might qualify as the most vacuous convention in American political history.” Also, Walt has “been conducting a very informal bumper sticker poll” in his “very Republican community.” Turns out he sees “a new Bush/Cheney or W’04 bumper sticker almost every day” and “sometimes … two in one day.”

Taegan Goddard reports on the convention-related convention of setting post-convention expectations. The Democrats, Goddard notes, are taking their turn telling reporters what would constitute a successful post-convention Bush “bounce.” Kerry man Mark Mellman has memo-ized that Bush “‘will need to be garnering 55 percent of the two-party vote after his convention. Anything less than that and the president will remain in grave political danger.’”

Two blogging Marks are on Dole patrol. Rightsided’s Mark A. Kilmer cites a “terrible Tuesday New York Times piece which noted that CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Bob Dole whether he regretted his recent comments critical of Kerry’s war service. “Why should he?” Kilmer wonders in Dole’s defense. Then there’s Mark Kleiman, who kicks Dole where the sun don’t shine with his comment that “Viagra really is a wonder drug: it seems to have made Bob Dole an even bigger prick than he used to be.” Also, Kleiman finds “truly disgusting” the press’ “reluctance … to kill this [Swift Boat] story by reporting how transparently false the Swifties’ accounts are.”

In other news, according to Wonkette!’s early review of John Kerry’s “Daily Show” performance last night, “Kerry loosened up a bit for the appearance.” Talking back to the transcript, Wonkette mockingly urges Jon Stewart to “go easy on the guy [lest] you upset him and he’ll have to administer a self-inflicted wound or something.” Oliver Willis defends Kerry from unnamed “people [who] are bitching about Kerry going on [this show],” dismissing them as “apologists of a president who comes out of his hole maybe 3 or 4 times to hold abysmal solo press conferences, takes softballs from the king of all softballers — Larry King, or sends his veep out to do interviews with the hard hitting Rush Limbaugh.”

Not surprisingly, Jon Stewart had a better defense, wondering why people would fault Kerry for going on Stewart’s fake news show rather than, say, on “Meet the Press.” “I’ve met the press,” Stewart said, “and [Kerry’s] not missing anything.”

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.