Who Says So?

This morning David Gregory, NBC’s White House correspondent, brought “Today Show” viewers a segment on President Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch — featured in a 2000 Bush campaign video — and on how the ranch is part of “a powerful political identity” for the president, one that “Bush image makers” intend to revisit frequently this election season.

“Some say this president has taken the art of political stage craft to a new level,” Gregory told viewers via voice-over. Representing the “some” who “say” this is Douglas Brinkley whom the Today Show gave the on-screen label “historian.” Brinkley described the Crawford ranch and Team Bush’s use of it as “a Hollywood stage set playing on the old west.”

Yes, Brinkley is a well-known “historian,” but he is also the author of the recent book Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War, of which the “Today Show“‘s own Katie Couric said, when interviewing Brinkley about the book on January 6, “… when I heard about this book, I thought, ‘Is Douglas Brinkley working for John Kerry these days?’ It’s a very, very flattering portrayal …”

For the sake of full disclosure and for the benefit of viewers, shouldn’t the “Today Show” have mentioned Brinkley’s book (and potential bias) before allowing him to opine on the Bush ranch as election prop?

After all, what’s the point of pontificating on air if you don’t even get to plug your new book?

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.