Rove Snipes at Press, Bloggers Take Bait

Bloggers have at Karl Rove's latest comments about journalists.

Over the weekend, in front of a graduating class of political science students at George Washington University, presidential advisor Karl Rove couldn’t resist taking a swipe at the American media.

“Some decry the professional role of politics, they would like to see it disappear,” said Rove, according to the Associated Press. “Some argue political professionals are ruining American politics - trapping candidates in daily competition for the news cycle instead of long-term strategic thinking in the best interest of the country.”

“It’s odd to me that most of these critics are journalists and columnists,” he added. “Perhaps they don’t like sharing the field of play. Perhaps they want to draw attention away from the corrosive role their coverage has played, focusing attention on process and not substance.”

Bloggers, of course, love to share the field of play. And afterwards, they rushed in to comment on Rove’s remarks.

“Now, it’s not unreasonable to question the media’s over-emphasis on process over substance, but it is unreasonable for Rove to make the argument as part of a hypocritical slam on the media,” writes the Carpetbagger Report. “No one person in recent memory has had the “corrosive role” on politics that he has, and no presidential aide in history has done more to replace substance with politics in matters of state.”

“It’s not necessary to parse the substance of Rove’s fatuous comments,” writes reader DK on Talking Points Memo. “We all know how preposterous any of this is coming from Rove. And it’s certainly not the first time the GOP has attacked the media as a way of working the refs, which is exactly the purpose of those particular remarks.”

“But I am struck by Rove’s remarks as another example, among many in recent months, that most of the reliable campaign themes the Republicans have employed in the last two decades are no longer viable,” adds DK. “National security policy is in a shambles, the federal budget is a wreck, and the GOP’s reputation for bringing mature and competent managers to government may take a generation to rebuild. Thematically, only social issues still resonate. That leaves the GOP with two main tactical weapons: demonizing opponents personally and shooting the messenger.”

In the meantime, many conservative bloggers were happy to take their cue from Rove himself.

“That is a nice way of saying that the voters are not fooled by the old media with staffs made up of liberal, socialist journalists who in recent poles vote 95 percent for the Democrat ticket,” writes Citizen Journalism Today. “A major reason daily newspapers are shedding voters is because of their staffs’ arrogance and non-stop spin. Like one-hit wonders of the pop-rock industry, they really can’t come up with a new tune.”

“Karl Rove is lashing out against the Old Media following its failed attempt to have him ‘frog-marched’ out of the White House,” writes Jeff Gannon. “In a speech to graduating students at George Washington University, the architect of a string of electoral victories discussed the “corrosive role” journalists have had on politics and government. Classic Rove. Journalism elites will be gnashing their teeth today.”

Elsewhere, however, it was Steven Leser, writing for, who did a nice job of chewing Rove’s statement to bits.

“When one examines Rove’s record and then one again considers Rove’s recent criticism of journalists’ political ethics, the criticism is almost like Stephen Glass accusing someone of making up too many stories or Ted Bundy accusing someone else of being too violent,” writes Leser. “Rove is a ruthless political operative whose only ethic is to win at any cost and by any method. Any ethical political organization would have banned his participation a long time ago. Fortunately for Rove, and unfortunately for the rest of us, there is the GOP and the Bush administration.”

Correction: This post has been changed to reflect that the author of the post on Talking Points Memo was a reader, not Joshua Micah Marshall.

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Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.