December 6, 2003

"New Credibility Questions"

It could have been Scrappleface, but it was The Washington Post. Demonstrating the absurd lengths to which the press will go to criticize George Bush or to manufacture a scandal, the Post dedicated 900 or so words to a story about the turkey that appeared in photographs of the President's visit to the troops in Baghdad. It seems the pictured turkey was not the one actually consumed by the troops, apparently proving once again the duplicity of this administration. According to the Post, this media manipulation "opened new credibility questions". As Dave Barry would say, I'm not making this up.

People who were actually there were able to see something other than a "photo-op", and were able to react with something other than cynicism. An email sent by a captain in the intelligence corps who attended the dinner provides an angle on the story that somehow didn't come through in much of the press reporting of the event. Here's an excerpt:

"Then, from behind the camouflage netting, the President of the United States came around. The mess hall actually erupted with hollering. Troops bounded to their feet with shocked smiles and just began cheering with all their hearts. The building actually shook. It was just unreal. I was absolutely stunned. Not only for the obvious, but also because I was only two tables away from the podium. There he stood, less than thirty feet away from me!

The cheering went on and on and on. Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were crying. There was not a dry eye at my table. When he stepped up to the cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his cheeks. It was the most surreal moment I've had in years. . . . Here was this man, our President, came all the way around the world, spending 17 hours on an airplane and landing in the most dangerous airport in the world, where a plane was shot out of the sky not six days before. Just to spend two hours with his troops. Only to get on a plane and spend another 17 hours flying back. It was a great moment, and I will never forget it."

This Weekly Standard article contains the full text of the email, along with a couple of suggestions for the Post investigative reporting team to work on when they've wrapped up the Turkeygate story:

(1) White House sources tell us that the president's remarks to the troops may secretly have been drafted not by the president himself, but by a paid team of speechwriters.

(2) When the president appears on formal occasions like the State of the Union, it only looks like he's reciting his speech from memory. In fact, using something called a TelePrompTer that he can see but we can't, he's reading his lines.

(3) Finally, and this may require an internal probe at the Post, we hear that members of the White House press corps have been known to write out in advance those impromptu-sounding questions they ask the president at his televised news conferences--just so they will look more commanding and professional when they're on camera.

Posted by dan at December 6, 2003 11:44 AM