Econ 101b: Fall 2006: August 31 Lecture Notes: Growth Theory
Oil in the Future

Enough Is Enough! (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

Could everybody please tell the Washington Post that they need to fire Peter Baker and Jim Vandehei today?

They badly need to do so--if, that is, they ever want to recover their reputation as "objective news reporters."

This is just too stupid to let pass:

Bush Team Casts Foes as Defeatist: While no Democrat has the powerful platform that the White House affords Bush and Cheney, the complaints about the mischaracterizing of positions on the war flow in both directions. Many Democrats accuse the president of advocating "stay the course" in Iraq, but the White House rejects the phrase...

Greg Sargent writes:

The Horse's Mouth: WASHINGTON POST LETS WHITE HOUSE DISTANCE ITSELF FROM "STAY THE COURSE" RHETORIC. This borders on the surreal. From today's WaPo.... Democrats accuse the President of advocating "stay the course" in Iraq? The President's constant assertion that we should "stay the course" in Iraq is a matter of objective fact, not of partisan accusation. And why no fact-check of the White House's "rejection" of the phrase? The White House doesn't reject the phrase. At all. Indeed, the last time President Bush advocated staying the course in just those words was...yesterday:

August 30, 2006: "We will stay the course, we will help this young Iraqi democracy succeed and victory in Iraq will be a major ideological triumph in the struggle of the 21st century."

This shouldn't need pointing out, but "stay the course" has of course been a Bush stock phrase for years now.

August 5, 2005: We will stay the course. We will complete the job in Iraq. And the job is this, we'll help the Iraqis develop a democracy.

April 13, 2004: And my message today to those in Iraq is: We'll stay the course; we'll complete the job. My message to our troops is: We will stay the course and complete the job and you'll have what you need.

July 10, 2003: A free Iraq will mean a peaceful world. And it's very important for us to stay the course, and we will stay the course.

In fairness, there's some good stuff in the WaPo piece, too, but this is just sloppy. With the White House about to unleash another major "public relations offensive" on Iraq, reporters are about to get hit with another relentless fusillade of official lying, and much of it will be of the "we-aren't-advocating-stay-the-course" variety. How will the press handle it? At a moment when Dems are aggressively challenging the GOP over Iraq, it's understandable that White House officials would be desperate to avoid accountability for their own past statements and actions, but that doesn't mean the big news orgs should help them do it.

Relatedly, Atrios notes that Ken Mehlman has been "berating" media figures for holding the administration accountable for its own words. It looks as if WaPo has gotten Mehlman's memo.

I don't care whether it is simple incompetence--an inability to Google the White House website for "stay the course"--or cynical mendacity in the interest of gaining White House brownie points. Ten years. I give the Post ten years.

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