When the press plays dumb about itself, cont'd

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Question: What's the easiest CW column to write this week?

Answer: How Obama 'lost control' of the stimulus bill message.

Question: What's the No. 1 rule when writing that CW column?

Answer: Never acknowledge the role the press has played in the 'debate.'

And, of course, if there's an easy, CW column to write, than MoDo's on the case. Right on cue, she typed up all the agreed upon Beltway memes about how the Obama White House had been "overwhelmed and slow to understand" it was losing the P.R. offensive.

And wouldn't you know it, she also completely ignored the role the press played in how the stimulus 'debate' unfolded over the last two weeks. For MoDo, the press played no role in the debate. None. The fact that during one week twice as many Republicans vs. Dems were invited onto cable TV to 'debate' the bill? That had nothing to do with the White House falling behind in its messaging. The fact that the media effortlessly regurgitated GOP talking points about the bill? Again, according to MoDo and Beltway elites, that had no impact on how the bill was perceived. It was all irrelevant.

Did the White House make missteps in publicly framing the stimulus bill. Some insiders there might concede they did. At the same time, the press has spent the last two weeks dramatically effecting the stimulus 'debate.' Why won't journalists acknowledge that? How can the media have no impact on a public policy debate?

UPDATE: Howard Kurtz, who hosts a news program about the media, adds to chorus of Beltway journalists who claim Republicans "did manage to take control of the [stimulus] debate," yet remains blissfully unaware of--or uninterested in--how the media may have created that GOP advantage.

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