Anger Management

July 26, 2004

In a page one, above-the-fold story today, Adam Nagourney and David Rosenbaum of The New York Times tantalize us with the assertion that Boston Democrats are “brimming with anger at President Bush but backing John Kerry’s call to tone down attacks on the president over the next four days.”

Eager to hear about all those angry Democrats, Campaign Desk made its way past the lede, over the jump, and all the way to the end of the piece — and found no angry Democrats in sight. Instead, we hear a few Democratic delegates sticking to the campaign talking points (“This should not be a Bush-bash party,” says on local party member from New Jersey) and high-ranking party officials doing the same (“You’re going to see positive themes, not bashing the president,” says New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson).

The closest we get to support for the premise is the statement by Nagourey/Rosenbaum that Democrats have been “powered by anger for most of the year, which [Kerry] expressed last week in an interview and reinforced on Sunday with an orchestrated set of statements by party leaders.” Assuming that’s a reference to Nagourney’s own interview with Kerry last week, the senator’s concession that there’s anger at President Bush out there and that “it’s an honest emotion” don’t quite add up to a Democratic party fueled by vitriol.

Interestingly, the online version of the story plays up the anger angle with the headline, “In Boston, Democrats Are Seething but Also Celebratory,” while the headline on the print version is, “Democrats Converge on Boston, Keyed Up but Toning it Down.”

We’re willing to grant that there are probably angry Democrats in Boston, somewhere (beginning, perhaps, with bloggers stuck in long lines for the bathroom). It’s just that Nagourney and Rosenbaum apparently haven’t found any yet.

–Bryan Keefer

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Bryan Keefer was CJR Daily’s deputy managing editor.