[Paleopsych] Dowd: (Gridiron) A Wink and a Fraud

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A Wink and a Fraud
Liberties column by Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, 5.3.17

[You will recall what happened when Mr. Mencken attended a Gridiron 
Dinner, in which FDR read statements about journalists, all negative. It 
turned out that they were written by Mr. Mencken. It is said that he never 
forgave Roosevelt for this, but I wonder.]


    At the Gridiron Dinner in Washington on Saturday, where Old Media
    gently mocked politicians with corny songs, I sat next to a
    presidential gag writer, Landon Parvin. He was saying jokes work best
    when Republicans make fun of Republicans and Democrats make fun of

    President Bush, looking spiffy in white tie and tails, swung by to
    talk to Mr. Parvin. He didn't look my way, but proceeded back up to
    the dais.

    Suddenly, W. turned around, stopped and looked right at me. Then he
    flashed a wink, not a flirty wink but a mischievous Clark Gable "I've
    got your number and you think you've got mine but I win" wink.

    Bush had a cold, but he was feeling pretty hot.

    He started his presidency with a tentative demeanor and a chip on his
    shoulder. Now, even with the Middle East still roiling and the
    Democrats still spoiling for a fight over Social Security, W. feels as
    if he's won a lot of hands and has a big pile of chips.

    He's confident enough to send two unilateralist hawks who specialize
    in blowing off the globe - John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz - to run
    global institutions that epitomize multilateralism. (Wolfie's biggest
    qualification to run the World Bank? His prediction that Iraqi
    reconstruction would pay for itself with Iraqi oil revenues.)

    In The Washington Post, [2]the reporter Mark Leibovich wrote that the
    president has been almost like a different person since the Iraqi
    elections, so loosey-goosey as he tries to sell his Social Security
    agenda and other programs that "he is resembling a Texas auctioneer
    pitching private accounts on the borscht belt."

    When a woman at an Arkansas town meeting last month told W. she was
    from De Queen, he replied, "That is right next to De King."

    At the Gridiron, Mr. Bush slyly joked that he had the "dangedest
    puppy" who would roll over on command - but only some of the time. "I
    renamed him 'John McCain.' "

    I may have gotten a presidential wink, but I still don't have my
    regular White House pass back. (Maybe I'd get it back if I became a
    male escort?) But Bush aides have now decided to let in a blogger.
    Maybe they're grateful that bloodhound bloggers ran off Dan Rather.

    But this White House may not like New Media any more than Old Media.
    It's already moved on to Fake Media.

    Here is yesterday's headline on the humorist Andy Borowitz's Web site:
    "[3]White House Reporter Turns Out to Be Cheney. Fake Mustache Falls
    Off Veep During Press Briefing."

    The White House isn't backing off its plan to replace real news with
    faux news. The Bushies created their own reality to convince the
    country that Iraq was a threat to U.S. security. So even though the
    war has given birth to some of the very evils it was supposed to fix -
    like more recruits for Osama, and Saddam's formerly sealed weapons'
    falling into terrorists' hands - Bushies like the results of their

    Now the White House has its own gulag: C.I.A. agents snatch suspects
    and fly them to places like Egypt and Syria to be strung up in chains
    and tortured. And The Times reported yesterday that at least 26 deaths
    of prisoners in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan may be
    criminal homicides. So it also has its own Soviet-style propaganda

    At his news conference yesterday, the president bristled a bit when a
    reporter reminded him that after it was revealed that his
    administration was paying columnists to shill for agency programs, Mr.
    Bush had ordered that such tactics cease.

    But, as the reporter noted, the administration is still using
    government money to produce stories about the government that are
    broadcast with no disclosure that the government is producing them.

    [4]David Barstow and Robin Stein wrote in The Times on Sunday that at
    least 20 agencies had made and distributed fake news segments to local
    TV stations; the administration spent $254 million in its first four
    years to buy self-aggrandizing puffery from P.R. firms.

    The president joked that he could tack on an "I'm George W. Bush and I
    approved this disclaimer." But then he said he wouldn't - that it was
    up to local stations to reveal the truth.

    He said his Justice Department had found that the fake news programs
    are "within the law so long as they're based upon facts, not

    And, of course, this is a White House that never makes up facts to
    suit its purposes or sell its programs. It serves its propaganda
    baldfaced, with no hint of its real agenda.

    At least I got a wink.

    E-mail: liberties at nytimes.com


    Visible links
    1. http://www.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/oped/columnists/maureendowd/index.html?inline=nyt-per
    2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A32281-2005Mar13.html
    3. http://www.borowitzreport.com/archive_rpt.asp?rec=1089&srch=
    4. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/13/politics/13covert.html

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