Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The Blob
My strategic location behind Howard Dean onstage during his Madison appearance yesterday got me some face time on various local newscasts in Wisconsin, but now the Mrs. reports I was apparently visible to the whole country on the Today show's report on Dean this morning. This is not the first time I have been visible on national TV, however. In the late 1980s, a friend and I were prominently visible during ESPN's coverage of the Quad City Classic golf tournament, having staked out a spot at the rope on a backwoods hole of the course so that when the players came by, there we were. Another group of friends and I were visible when Richie Sexson of the Milwaukee Brewers blasted the game-winning home run over our heads on opening night at Miller Park in 2001. It did require pausing the video and knowing where we were sitting, however--"We're the four blobs right down here."

Recommended reading: From the New York Review of Books, Michael Massing looks at the reporting on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction--media outlets are now saying the evidence wasn't there like everybody said, but why didn't they say so in the runup to the war, when it was about as clear to anyone willing to look? Massing blames a number of factors--the administration's expert news management and the way senior officials closed ranks and spouted the same line, but also reporters' reliance on dubious sources, their fear of losing access if they contradicted the administration line, and the pack mentality that made them reluctant to say anything different from what their peers were saying.

The Advocate has an exclusive interview with an American Airlines pilot who asked all of the Christian passengers on his flight last Friday to identify themselves, in hopes that they might witness to the non-Christians on the flight. The pilot thinks there's nothing weird about what he did--contrary to many of the passengers, who wondered if the guy had lost his mind. You can't get a damn sandwich on an airplane flight anymore, but you can get saved, apparently.

Back in the Vietnam era, when Walter Cronkite editorialized against the war, Lyndon Johnson was heard to remark that if he'd lost Cronkite, he'd lost the country. Fox News blowhard Bill O'Reilly is no Cronkite, but if he's growing skeptical about Bush, we can at least say a portion of the country that's been heretofore strong down the line must be starting to squirm. Of course, blaming George Tenet for Iraq intelligence failures must take some of the curse off of O'Reilly's flirtation with apostasy--after all, Tenet was Bill Clinton's guy, so the intelligence failures are--you guessed it--Clinton's fault.

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