STRETCHING THE TRUTH! George Bush lied in Josh Wrights face. And David Gregory knew not to tell you:
THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 2005
STRETCHING THE TRUTH: Is it news when a president baldly deceives a panel of decent, average Americans? To the Washington press corps, that just isnt news—if the presidents name is George Bush. On Tuesday morning, Bush baldly misstated elementary facts about Social Security at his hyped public forum (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/12/05). Indeed, how contemptuous was Bushs performance? In yesterdays post, we left out the part when he lied in the face of a 27-year-old dairy farmer from Utah. The young dairy farmers name is Josh Wright. Try to believe that Bush said it:
BUSH (12/11/05): If nothing happens, at your age, [Social Security] will be bust by the time it comes time for you to retire. That's why we have a person in the mid-20s here, beside the fact the guy's got a pretty good sense of humor. (Light laughter.)But of course, Social Security will not be flat broke by the time Josh Wright retires. According to the CBO, what will Social Security really be doing when Wright retires? The system will be paying full guaranteed benefits—benefits that will be much larger than the benefits being paid today! Even according to the projections of the Social Security trustees—projections based on extremely gloomy assumptions about economic growth—Josh Wright will get larger benefits than his grandfather gets today. Bush invited Wright to fly in from Utah. Then he sat with young Wright on a bright public stage, and lied right in his face.
But is it news when a president acts this way, about a humongous budget proposal? Not at NBC News, it isnt. At NBC, David Gregory (pet name: Stretch) reported on the presidents forum. And you know how men like Gregory play it. Gregory sat there and watched the president lie, right in the face of that young Utah farmer. But when Stretch went on the air that night, he knew not to tattle or tell.
How did Gregory report the forum? In fact, the only real news the session produced was Bushs larger-than-life dissembling. But Gregory managed to ignore it completely. Heres the start of his report on Tuesdays NBC Nightly News:
GREGORY (1/11/05): Finding Social Security reform a tough sell, even within his own party, the president today stepped up his campaign, pitching major changes to the retirement program to younger workers.Holy cow! Gregory even played tape of Bushs false claim—his claim that the system is going flat bust. Needless to say, Gregory knows this is false—but he also knows that he mustnt tell voters. Here is the rest of his report—a report in which he gazed away from Bushs flagrant misstatements:
GREGORY (continuing directly): Before settling on a final proposal, aides say the president needs more time to define the problem, one he calls a crisis. Last week, The Wall Street Journal obtained this memo from a White House adviser who said the strategy must be to convince the public that the current system is heading for an iceberg.Gregory did tell viewers, as part of one sentence, that someone has said that President Bush is exaggerating the need for change. But Gregory watched the president lie in the face of the young Utah dairy farmer—and he knew he mustnt tell NBCs viewers what their Great, Mighty Leader had done.
How comical is the American discourse? Incredibly, as newsmen like Gregory cover for Bush, the air is full of loud complaints about the press corps vast liberal bias! You live at a time of complete propaganda, and Storeboughts like Gregory (pet name: Stretch) know their prime role in the process.
THE SPEECH NOT GIVEN: Note to Gregory (pet name: Stretch): When a president lies in the face of the people, that is the days biggest news. Once you played tape of Bushs vast misstatements, this is what should have followed:
GREGORY: Finding Social Security reform a tough sell, even within his own party, the president today stepped up his campaign, pitching major changes to the retirement program to younger workers.But David Gregory (pet name: Stretch) would hurl himself from the roof of The Palm before he would offer that Speech Not Given. Readers, you live at a time when Storebought Men gaze into air as Bush wildly misstates. As they do so, their networks interview loudmouths and fools who scold them for their vast liberal bias.
IN HONOR OF MARSHALLS SUPERLATIVE WORK: Josh Marshall has done superlative work in assembling his list of the Fainthearted Faction—Democratic members of Congress who wont step up on Social Security. Today, we start a list of their press corps auxiliary—scribes like Gregory, who simply wont tell you when George Bush lies in the face of the people. Well add to the club as the days go on. Tomorrow, we induct John Roberts:
Pandering Poobahs of Positivity