Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad, Press Coverage Really Bad

All happy political animals are alike, but each unhappy political animal is unhappy in its own way. Today, the Political Animal (a.k.a. Kevin Drum) is perturbed with Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter for failing to write “what he really thinks” about the Bush administration. Alter’s most recent column, Drum asserts, is “typical column stuff: thoughtful, nuanced, critical of the administration but still optimistic that Iraq will be peaceful someday …” Meanwhile, Alter’s advice on Air America radio yesterday, Drum writes, “was that ‘the only way you can sort of start to let the public know is to say, no, [the Bush people] don’t know what they’re doing. They’re clowns.’” Drum wonders why Alter — “the guy with both inside access and a big megaphone” — doesn’t write that in Newsweek.

Unhappy with the press in her own way, Suburban Guerrilla chimes in, bemoaning “this silly idea of ‘balanced’ journalism, whereby any criticism of an overwhelming [sic] awful thing has to be balanced by an equal amount of praise — and the consumers of this ground-up media mush are left in the dark.”

Meanwhile, The Whomping Willow is whomped up over what she sees as hypocrisy in the media’s treatment of DressGate. “I can’t even imagine,” writes the Willow, “the kind of media pandemonium that would follow this were it Jenna or Barbara Bush.” Because it is “the daughter of the media’s darling liberal presidential candidate,” Willow grumbles, there is “uncanny silence in the media.” Guess Willows don’t read Posts (New York or Washington).

Angry Bear is (perhaps unsurprisingly) angry today, over what he calls “GOP logic.” According to the Bear, the Republicans’ latest Kerry-is-inconsistent “talking point” is rather lame. This week Kerry is calling for some release of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve to help with high oil prices, while in 2000, Republicans point out, Kerry said that oil should not be released from the reserve. The Bear hopes the GOP continues this line of logic, and points out “that flip-floppers abound in everyday life as well as in politics.” He offers a few examples: “In 2000 I said I didn’t want to take a summer vacation in California, yet this summer I’m doing exactly that! Clearly I’m a flip-flopper … In 2000 lots of people wanted to buy shares in Lucent for $50 per share, while today no one is willing to pay even $4. Flip-floppers, all of them.”

Over at Donkey Rising, Ruy Teixeira wants Kerry to “reframe his approach … as the quickest possible responsible way to get out of Iraq, not simply as the responsible way to deal with the Iraq situation, no exit date specified.” If he fails to do so, Teixeira asserts, Kerry “risks being out-of-step with rapidly shifting public opinion” — shifting, that is, toward wanting to exit Iraq.

Finally, we turn to the fine fellows at Oxblog (the “Ox” may stand for “Oxford,” but it’s close enough for us). Today, Oxblog brings us, via The Atlantic, the choicest musings of Bernard Lewis, whom they introduce as “an impeccable scholar whose deep respect for his region of study makes him able to speak of democratic reform in the Muslim world without that stench of Islamophobia often infecting the opinion pages.” Here is what Lewis finds “really alarming” about “western media coverage” of Iraq: that so many “media people” mispronounce the names of Iraqi towns,” like Najaf.

That’s NA-jaf good, Na-JAF bad.

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.