Tuesday, Brigitte Quinn posed the following question to her Fox News Live guest, Rich Lowry of National Review: “Rich, this may be premature and we have only known about this trip for an hour but we do have this trip. We have the death of Zarqawi. This morning we also have the news that Karl Rove is off the hook and last week we had the Canadian terror arrests [Apparently the Bush administration should also be credited for that.] I mean, might we begin to see a turnaround for the Bush administration when you combine all those factors?” Lowrey replied, in part, that the “administration is hoping” so. Quinn’s other guest, the Hartford Courant’s David Lightman, dodged her speculative line of questioning about what this all might mean for Bush and for Republicans in November and said: “We in the media are always asked to look for trends and we’re always asked, gee, are the Democrats headed for a big victory in November? The answer we always give is it’s only June and next week — next month we’ll say it’s only July,” noting, “You can’t make sweeping conclusions about what’s going to happen in November.” Quinn’s reply? “It’ll never stop us from asking, though, David” — to which Lightman retorted, “Or us from writing.” No, it won’t.
Later on Tuesday, on Your World With Neil Cavuto (screen caption: “Is the Tide Turning for President Bush?”) Cavuto wondered: “The Baghdad trip coming on the same day that the trusted leader Karl Rove finding he is not being charged in the CIA case. People are feeling better about the war in Iraq and the president’s job performance. After all of this, is the tide turning to where the war in Iraq will be a victory for the administration?” Neither of Cavuto’s guests (God bless ‘em) even tried to answer his question, so later in the show he tried again with colleague Brit Hume: “For a president who gets a lot of flak about Iraq, does his being there today change the equation on Iraq?” Hume — no fool, he — preferred to ignore the question in favor of hyping “problems” in the Democratic party.
By Wednesday morning, Fox added an old standby of a twist to the “tide turning” discussion — the media’s “underreporting” of it. On Fox & Friends First, Alisyn Camerota said: “Well, first the death of Zarqawi and now a successful and surprise trip to Baghdad. It’s looking like a good week for the White House, but is the media missing the story?” (On-screen caption: “Are Positive White House Stories Under-Reported?”) Camerota’s colleague Peter Johnson chimed in with: “I read the New York Times this morning. … the editorial page said that President Bush’s historic trip yesterday was a publicity stunt. Am I getting it wrong, are they getting it wrong, what’s happening?” Answered “Fox contributor” Bill Sammon, “You know, you just can’t win for losing if you’re a conservative Republican president in this town, in this media environment …” Sammon added that he felt the Baghdad trip had a “higher purpose” than a publicity stunt but noted that it will have “political dividends” — such as “help[ing] to show the American people that for a change, you know, some things are going right in Iraq, and I think even the press has to acknowledge grudgingly that this has been a very, very good week for President Bush.”
We don’t know what Camerota, Johnson or Sammon have been reading, but how’s this for “acknowledgement”: “Spate of Good News Gives White House a Chance to Regroup” (the headline on A1 of Wednesday’s Washington Post)? Or, better still, this from A1 of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required): “Bush’s Visit to Baghdad Signifies Upturn in His Political Fortunes.”
And there it is, in the blink of an eye, so fast that you might have missed it: A narrative is born.