Monday, February 22, 2010

Funny Things To Get Upset About

I have to point out something about the right’s snickering over Obama’s use of a teleprompter. The point seems to be that Obama is a two-dimensional media star, someone who needs to be coached or scripted and is somehow something less than genuine and extemporaneous.

Alarmingly, this has been picked up as some kind of inside joke among reporters within the mainstream press, even creating the oft-repeated lie that “he used a teleprompter at a school!” (he didn’t). The hypocrisy is not just that every other politician of the modern era uses a teleprompter. The hypocrisy--and I’m talking to our illustrious mainstream media here--is that for eight years the Bush Administration created all sorts of made-for-prime-time phony media moments, which the MSM gobbled up like a starving man at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

The obvious, most notorious example of this was President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment, a staged piece of political theater the media gleefully celebrated, from the manly flight-suit landing to the banner to the speech declaring
"In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

Only months later, when Iraq spiraled into chaos, did the media start to question this stunt, and they saved most of their criticism for the actual banner. Yet they were present on the USS Abraham Lincoln. They saw that the aircraft carrier was close to shore, that it had been turned so land would not appear within camera range. They knew the President could have helicoptered to the vessel, that a jet landing wasn’t needed, that it was just theater staged for them. Yet they said nothing at the time. They were complicit. Hey, they must have thought; it's good TV!

There are dozens and dozens of examples of this kind of theater staged for the media during the Bush Administration. Using a teleprompter during a speech kinda pales by comparison.

Over at the Swash Zone today I was reminded of Shoshana Johnson. For those who don't remember:

One of them was Specialist Shoshana Johnson, who would spend her 22 days in captivity with gunshot wounds to both legs. While the media frenzy was focused on the rescue of Lynch, the eventual rescue of the others by the Marines went largely unnoticed.

Ms Johnson, the first black female POW, came home but her troubles were far from over. While her physical wounds would eventually heal, her mental health was more precarious. To add insult to injury she not only suffered from PTSD but also had to endure being misaligned as being greedy for challenging her disability rating so that she could get better benefits.

The whole “Saving Jessica Lynch” storyline was even more embarassing for America’s media elites than their failure to adequately cover the Mission Accomplished incident.

The story was a highly packaged piece of Pentagon propaganda which our media again swallowed whole, sometimes even embellished on their own. Who can forget the exaggerations and outright fabrications of her story, the glowing NBC made-for-TV movie, the way the media completely ignored Shoshana Johnson and other members of Lynch’s unit? Even Lynch found this disparity upsetting.

There are tons of examples, Bush fielding softballs like “can I pray for you,” and “will you pray for Oregon,” and on and on and on. Funny how all of that has been forgotten amid snickers over Obama’s use of a Teleprompter.

You know, I expect the righties to try to make political hay out of anything they can get their hands on; a teleprompter seems kinda stupid, but whatever. But why is our media finding this funny?

The White House Press Corpse likes to be in on the joke, but what they don’t get is that they are the joke.

This really shows there are two sets of rules, one for Democrats and one for Republicans. For Democrats, even using a Teleprompter shows what a phony someone is. For Republicans, expensive and highly staged theatrical productions are no big deal, because it’s good TV.