Friday, April 28, 2006

'The magic people'

The Washington Press Corps buzz this week that Fox News commentator Tony Snow will replace Scott McClellan as Bush's press secretary is just that: buzz. Pressthink has an insightful look at how McClellan was the cornerstone in operation 'rollback'. And, former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer added his take this week in a Washington Post op-ed piece, recalling that ever since the press briefings were televised live in the mid '90s the event has become more theater than anything else. It's a "TV show" in which the press secretary aims to get out a "sound bite for the evening news" while the public gets to watch a "good fight," Fleischer says.

An exchange from Thursday's press "gaggle" tells it all. Here, a reporter questions whether all the nearby televisions have been tuned to Fox News, including the one on Air Force One, because of an official White House policy. The reporter questions whether there's an unwillingness on the part of the White House to tune into, say, CNN instead:

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I'm going to go see if we can change the channel for you. Have you called up?

Q: I was the Fox victim, and I was told — the quote was, "No," when I asked for CNN.

MR. McCLELLAN: I don't know who you talked to, so — it didn't come to my attention. You don't know who you talked to either?

Q: Well, the magic people at the other end off the phone.

MR. McCLELLAN: The magic people at the other end of the phone. Well, I'll see if this cabin is —

Q: I was told, "We don't watch CNN here, you can only watch Fox."

MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, it's hard to respond to something when I don't know who it is you talked to.

Q: I used the phone back here.

MR. McCLELLAN: I find this all quite amusing, to tell you the truth. I mean, there are a lot of people on this plane that do watch that channel.

Q: I've never been told, no. They're such nice guys up there.

Later, McClellan informs the press corps that
"they're going to be changing it, at your all's request, to the channel that you requested, which is CNN — from the press corps."

I think Howard Beale from the movie "Network" said it best: "Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamned amusement park."


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5:00 PM  
Blogger Suburbanista said...

Well, that just boosted CNN's viewership tenfold.

OTOH, every domestic airport I've been in has the TV's tuned to CNN

3:19 PM  
Blogger Scott Monroe said...


same here on the airports. Though, in my opinion, they'd be better off watching MTV news... a little bit more in-depth coverage there.

4:18 PM  

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