[Paleopsych] Dowd: (Gridiron) A Wink and a Fraud
checker at panix.com
Tue Apr 19 14:03:04 UTC 2005
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.]
By MAUREEN DOWD
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
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, 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:
"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.
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
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