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MEDIA: The President and the media

Phyllis Gardner writes: "Speaking of "stunning pieces of news management" (Guardian piece on the Lynch rescue) , please note the New York Times lead article (16/5/03), "Keepers of Bush Image Lift Stagecraft to New Heights", by Elisabeth Bumiller, which outlines the way three former television producers manage Bush's photo-op at every opportunity, including shots of him perfectly profiled against the four presidential heads at Mount Rushmore, color coordination for the soldiers flanking him on the aircraft carrier during his now notorious "Top Gun" landing, the hiring of three barges of Musco lights and deployment in the New Y harbor to create his dramatic backdrop on the 9/11 anniversary, the request for citizens at Indianapolis to remove their ties in order to appear more blue collar when Bush stumped for his tax cut, and the white stickers covering up "made in China" flanked by faux "made in USA" boxes during Bush's speech on his economic plan at a St. Louis Trucking company.

I found this quote particularly chilling: "We pay particular attention to not only what the president says but what the American people see," Mr. Bartlett said. "Americans are leading busy lives, and sometimes they don't have the opportunity to read a story or listen to an entire broadcast. But if they can have an instant understanding of what the president is talking about by seeing 60 seconds of television, you accomplish your goals as communicators. So we take it seriously."

If true, it is a chilling indictment of our society, one that explains a lot about this president's popularity despite events going wrong and the economy turning deeply south. He is well on his way to becoming the next "Teflon" president, succeeding and beating Ronald Reagan, as noted by Daniel Schorr during a recent NPR editorial.

Ronald Hilton - 5/16/03