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July 17, 2006

Things That Make Me Proud To Be A Journalist

Cnnpriorities If I were crafting a parody of the political media's decline, I could hardly construct a better set piece than today's reportage.  A live mic at the G8 Summit caught Tony Blair and George Bush talking privately about the conflict in Lebanon.  Given the relative opacity of Bush's thoughts on the situation, the frank discussion offered a fair amount of insight and a couple nuggets of news, including that he was going to send Condi to the region (or possibly the UN -- but she's going somewhere to deal with this), that he blamed neither Israel nor Lebanon for the violence, and that "the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over." 

That's a big deal: Bush believes it within the Syrian government's power to calm the conflict.  Theoretically, that should have major implications for American diplomacy and, possibly, policy.  So what's CNN's headline?  "Open mic catches Bush expletive on Mideast"!  The story is not that his substantive views on the issue have been uncovered, but that the president curses.  Indeed, the article even speculates on how such a stunner slipped out, arguing that "the escalating crisis in the Middle East prompted him to use an expletive in a conversation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair."   

This is your press corps.  The President has a potty mouth is a more pressing story than the President believe sufficient pressure on the sovereign nation of Syria could be the key to ending an intensely volatile war in the Middle East.  What a proud day for my profession.

July 17, 2006 | Permalink


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You misspelled "press corpse."

Posted by: Stephen | Jul 17, 2006 2:32:03 PM

Ezra: you are not a journamalist. You are a Lippmanite.

Posted by: Brad DeLong | Jul 17, 2006 2:56:55 PM

excellent point. But not, of course, any different than the "pig" discussion in the major press which was reported as a kind of light hearted relief from the ugly facts that were (Or could have been) uncovered at the press conference--such as the fact that bush hadn't got a clue what kind of answer he could give to actual questions.


Posted by: aimai | Jul 17, 2006 3:01:34 PM

Don't you think that things like this make Joe Sixpack take notice, though? Or should we mostly give up on Joe?

Posted by: CL | Jul 17, 2006 3:30:20 PM

No young blondes are missing, so they have to fill the space up somehow.

Posted by: DrWolfy | Jul 17, 2006 4:11:34 PM

but, but, buuuuuuuuut.

If he hadn't used the "s" word, would it have been mews at ALL? Thank the Lord for his potty-mouth!

(the fucker chews with his mouth open, and talks with his mouth full. Classless.)

Posted by: za | Jul 17, 2006 4:11:56 PM

CL is spot on. the press corpse (nod) isn't missing the story, they're inventing it. "see! george bush is just like you! he says 'shit'. ain't life grand?"

Posted by: rael | Jul 17, 2006 4:12:24 PM

Yes, enough pressure on Syria. Like perhaps some bombing of strategic locations? I wouldn't put it past Georgie to attack Syria for not having Hezbollah under control.

Is that how we'll get into this lovely war?

And Condi calls it "grotesque" to even ASK the question of whether our cluster-fuck in Iraq is partly to blame for all of this.


Posted by: za | Jul 17, 2006 4:15:17 PM

Don't you think that things like this make Joe Sixpack take notice, though? Or should we mostly give up on Joe?

Posted by: CL

Make him notice what? That Bush "has a potty mouth"? I'd be really amazed if anyone thought the content of this article was news. It only fits with his "jes' folks" image, after all. But regardless, who is the above Joe Sixpack? My rough calculation is that if 30 percent of the population still support Bush overall, 20 percent are zealous partisans who could watch him hit a kitten with a sledgehammer and they would support him as long as he has an R in front of his name and/or American soldiers are shooting brown people, and the remaining 10 percent have been paying so little attention that they wouldn't recognize the names of anyone in his administration except Bush himself. Which of those groups would be swayed by knowing he said "shit" in a microphone?

In general, I'm not opposed to the "shine a light on misconduct" way of thinking, but it doesn't seem to apply here.

Posted by: Cyrus | Jul 17, 2006 4:18:31 PM

I think the news should report this word for word without censorship. Let the people hear what an a..hole he is.

Posted by: pat | Jul 17, 2006 5:04:19 PM

Actually, the dialogue shows that Bush really plans to do nothing about the conflict. If you'll notice, he said he wished Annan would contact Assad. Why not Bush? God forbid he lead. Furthermore the statement by Rice's spokesperson today basically indicated that they weren't going to do anything unless it was long term... which I take to mean "no ceasefire." Furthermore you notice Blair meekly pushing the ceasefire with Bush and the latter dismissing it out of hand. So the US position is, let's let 'em duke it out. Which obviously is a pretty fucking dangerous position.

I wrote more about this at www.pierretristam.com

Posted by: ohdave | Jul 17, 2006 5:05:43 PM

He didn't point out fault between one country or the other because if he says it's Lebanon's fault, then the rest of the world will be against him. If he says it's Israel's fault well... we know the US government revolves around pro-Israeli policies. So of course he wants Syria to step in, which they never will, since they are on the side of Iran, which supports Lebanon. If you want the war to stop the problem is simple, stop letting Israel control the Middle East, and stop feeding them weapons. All the bombs that dropped on Lebanon that were fired by Israel are bombs the US gave them.

Posted by: Webs | Jul 17, 2006 5:08:59 PM

Also, it revealed a split between the way the President thinks this crisis should be resolved and how Annan thinks it should be resolved.

This has policy implications far more important than the political stunt of a resolution that the US vetoed a few weeks ago, but, unbelievably, it hasn't been covered at all.

No wonder people think it's not important that they elect a President with enough geopolitical understanding to realize that, yes, Beijing is very far from St. Petersburg--as far as Washington is!

When foreign policy is just incomprehensible foreigners from incomprehnsible places doing incomprehensible things, why are we surprised that most Americans think ignorant morons can do foreign policy?

Posted by: theorajones | Jul 17, 2006 5:17:25 PM

I think the open mike incident highlights something we already knew but kind of confirms-the question: is he really just a dumb-ass moron or playing one on T.V. Conclusively with an open mouth full of roll-itching to get outta there "cause he has somethin to do tonight".. (maybe somethin good on T.V.-like the mideast crisis-which he can't differentiate as a reality show), always the anti-intellectual ("these guys talk too much-again something too good to miss on TV)..no wonder the trailer park bunch looks up to him (even tho he isn't legitimately one of them and is wiping out the middle and lower class quickly) This just confirms a very important question for me-he isn't a smart guy playing an idiot, he is a real legitimate idiot with lots of mean, crazy strattegiest alongside who would do ANYTHING to take over the world (neocons). Scary

Posted by: jan | Jul 17, 2006 5:31:31 PM

I think sufficient pressure on the sovereign nation of Israel could be the key to ending an intensely volatile war in the Middle East. We aren't the leaders of the free world, not anymore, we are Israel's bitch!

Posted by: POST AMERICAN | Jul 18, 2006 12:02:49 AM

The commenters here are ready to condemn Bush no matter what he does. And so does the MSM. In fact there are powerful people and organizations disregarding consequences for the rest of us while they pursue their Hate-Bush agenda.

Unfortunately, y'all hatemongers are hurting yourselves. Nobody trusts the Left anymore. You people have long ago scared off all but the extremeists.

Any unhinged Lefty who thinks Israel has such a powerful lobby in the US should really get their facts straight. Until you do, nobody will take you seriously.

Especially the well-educated, former-known-as-liberal Bush supporters, whose legions are growing.

Posted by: somaking | Jul 18, 2006 1:56:46 AM

Ezra is correct. Been tell my friend in MN about the MSM and the crazy left so she has been watching. She called me today and she thought the some as Ezra. She is a Dem in Minnesota who is about ready to change her party ID. Keep going Leftoids, your doing a great job of building the Independant and Repub parties.

Posted by: ordi | Jul 18, 2006 2:37:25 AM

somaking and ordi,

Shut-up! The first rule of The Secret Order of Conservatives Pretending to be Extremist Liberals in Order to Convert Everyone Else to the GOP is that you never, EVER talk about The Secret Order of Conservatives Pretending to be Extremist Liberals in Order to Convert Everyone Else to the GOP!!!!!!!!11!!1!1!!!!!1111!!eleven11!!!


Posted by: Stephen | Jul 18, 2006 3:05:34 AM

Sorry guys, but jan is right. The most telling thing about the conversation was Bush saying that he felt like calling up Kofi Annan to tell him to tell the Syrians to do something. Just why should Syria listen to Kofi Annan? Is it because the U.S. has done so much in the past 5 years to build up the prestige of the UN? This is the sort of nonsense that comes out of Bush's head. Meanwhile, Blair was trying to persuade him to support an idea that might actually help to defuse the situation, and he looked like he didn't understand what Blair was saying. I think that's the real story -- Bush's incompetence.

Posted by: susan | Jul 18, 2006 7:48:12 AM

Bush was being passive aggressive by whining to Blair about what he ought to say if he didn’t have to be on his best behavior, table-manors aside. Kofi’s use of too many three syllable words can really grate on a cowboy’s sensibility. Bush didn't hear a word Blair was saying. He was to busy talking out of both sides of his overstuffed mouth.

Posted by: David F | Jul 18, 2006 5:10:30 PM

"I think the news should report this word for word without censorship. Let the people hear what an a..hole he is."

Pat, are you serious? You think the knowledge that the president used a profanity will convince people that he is an "a..hole"?

Man, what really gets me though is that you articulate that particular thought with a profanity.

Posted by: andrew | Jul 19, 2006 12:14:24 AM

How can we be worried about a little thing like the US's possible role in the development or prevention of WWIII when our children's minds are being poisioned by the likes of Janet Jackson's almost-visable nipples and our very own President's shameless potty-mouth?!

Posted by: L. A. Bland | Jul 19, 2006 2:35:07 AM

Have to agree with Andrew. The amazing thing is that some of you honestly think that publicizing an episode of profanity will hurt the President. I think it will do the opposite.

I do not curse often. I think that the frequent use of profanity is the sign of an unimaginative mind, incapable of expressing strong emotion without using easy shortcuts. However, there is a legitimate purpose for profanity (which is why it was invented in the first place): to indicate that the situation has moved beyond the conventional. In other words, judicious use of profanity can be a sign that the gloves are coming off.

Not only was the President's cursing appropriate to the circumstances, it resonates with the feelings of an awful lot of people.

Posted by: Mastiff | Jul 19, 2006 9:12:41 PM

A famous quote comes to mind. "I know not what manner of weapons World War III will be fought with, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." --well, it went something like that anyway...sorry Einstein

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