The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005
 

Not Bumiller, Keller


Bob Somerby goes for the low-hanging fruit with the latest edition of Elisabeth Bumiller's White House Notes.

You mean they still print that crap? Yes, indeedy. Bumiller is on fine form - not exactly a hard news lede:
George W. Bush has been acting like a man liberated from the American presidency.

At an event in Denver last Monday, he mused that sending out quarterly statements for the individual investment accounts he wants to add to Social Security could encourage people to pay more attention to government but then chuckled that investors might conclude from tepid returns that "maybe we ought to change presidents or something."


Mused. Chuckled. Surely, you say, this is satire: Tracy Samantha Lord writing - drawling - for Spy magazine on the quaint habits of Pennsylvania Avenue, poking fun at the pretensions of the Inhabitant and the fawning of the lackeys who 'report' his doings.

I somehow doubt that this is the intention.

But, whilst Somerby says that
she didn’t initiate this sort of work at the Times; this is exactly the way Frank Bruni treated Bush during Campaign 2000.
the fact that only Bumiller is namechecked (in relation to current output) might suggest he thinks that she alone is responsible for its appearance in the Times each week.

Of course, she is a mere hired hand, directed to dish up this sophomoric goo by executive editor Bill Keller, via his editorial chain of command.

He says
You can’t get dumber than Elisabeth Bumiller. Nor can you be a more faithful courtesan.

She may be dumb, but one can't infer as much from her Times work [1]; she's certainly smart enough to follow orders, and is no doubt handsomely rewarded for it.

And why should Keller and his editors want nonsense like Bumiller's in their rag? Presumably, someone influential likes to read the stuff, and pandering costs (next to) nothing.

We know the White House motto with the media is Treat 'em mean to keep 'em keen - it's not necessarily missing scoops that the Times is concerned with, I'd reckon, it's more the risk of losing the kudos of being Number One, and the consequential cost of that loss of prestige in its relations outside the White House.

A little lollygagging is a small price to pay.

Meanwhile, let's be grateful the Times hasn't helped start any wars recently...

  1. Consider the oeuvre of Matt LeBlanc, for instance.


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