Friday, January 23, 2004

It's the Press That Needs a Strait Jacket

"The Campaign Desk," under the heading "Distortion," outs the Los Angeles Times for running a piece on Howard Dean that practically puts him in the loony bin.

"But it's a real stretch -- and completely unfair -- to say that Dean's outburst on Monday night proves he is too insane to be president, which is the underlying theme in today's Los Angeles Times piece covering the much-talked about speech."

I watched that "outburst" (which it was NOT) live, on the night it happened, minutes after the Vermont Gov found out he had come in third in Iowa, a state he was supposed to win easily. The press, starting with the ineffable Matt Drudge, have decided to label it "Dean Goes Nuts." The wits of late-night TV fell right into line, including our beloved John Stewart. But a fair-minded viewing of it -- and how many times have YOU seen it now? -- reveals it to be very much in scale and appropriate for the time and setting. The man had just lost. He was disappointed and faced with hundreds of mostly young supporters who had worked their tails off for him and were not just disappointed but CRUSHED, dealing with the sort of defeat that can end up driving young people far away from continued political activism. So Howard Dean was pumping them up. And he did it well. As somebody remarked, anyone who can recall all those states in rapid-fire order is plenty sharp and has his full faculties.

But the anti-Dean media, of which there is a superfluity, have used it to hang a "You Are Entering Bedlam" sign on him. Chris Matthews, a so-called "journalist" about whom I might be induced to drop my usual pacifist approach to life, has delighted in playing the clip over and over, as though the repetition might marinate into something actual and substantive.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush gets a pass, and the country gets the government that the corporate media sell-outs design for us. This isn't an election as much as it's Celebrity Survival. Or Lord of the Flies, with the media chanting "Kill the piggy! Kill the piggy!"

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