October 9, 2002

Spin-room politics…

Howard Kurtz takes a look at the spin-room situation following the debate between Gray Davis and Bill Simon Jr. in the race for governor of California. What transpired is a case study in press-politics interaction and the continued degradation of civic discourse.
UPDATE (10:10 a.m.): More on this situation from The Mercury News and The Oakland Tribune.
UPDATE (10:30 a.m.): This photo allegedly shows California Gov. Gray Davis (left) accepting an illegal contribution in 1998. His opponent in the governor’s race, Bill Simon, claimed the photo was taken in Davis’ state office. Davis disputes this charge. Simon has backed off the claim.

October 8, 2002

American Candidate entry…

As I mentioned earlier, I sent e-mail to the address listed on FX for the American Candidate show. It’s kind of a pre-entry step. Anyway, I finally got a reply:

So you think you have what America needs? Well, you just might…
We are glad that you have expressed interest in “American Candidate.” Right now, we are in the earliest stages of this competition. The official application process will start soon and we will follow up with you in the near future. In the meantime, you can log on to FXNetworks.com for more information about schedules, other FX programs, and soon… “American Candidate.”

What the heck. I’m going to keep going with the process and report what happens here. This should be amusing 🙂

October 8, 2002

Bush speech and the networks…

James Taranto is in a snit because ABC, CBS, and NBC didn’t carry the Bush address. He says:

As the New York Post’s John Podhoretz notes, all these networks opted not to carry the president’s speech last night in which he did make the case (The Fox broadcast network carried it, as did the all-news cable networks.) The New York Times says this is because “the White House did not formally ask the networks to broadcast the speech, as is the usual practice.” But since when do news organizations wait for a formal invitation before covering the news?

First, let me say that I think the networks should have carried the address. But, the fact remains that the White House did not ask for the time–an indicator to the networks of the importance the administration places on the speech. We may certainly debate what that maneuver means. The question I have for Taranto is: Since when are ABC, NBC, and CBS “news organizations”? These are entertainment networks that are part of larger companies. The news portions of these networks account for a tiny fraction of the profits. Now MSNBC and CNN are indeed news organizations (of a sort).

October 8, 2002

Looking ahead to 2004…

Don Campbell takes a look at the relationship between the press and the perpetual presidential campaign. He asks an important question: Do citizens care about 2004 this early?

October 8, 2002

Poet Laureate of NJ…

Richard Cohen has the right idea about the poet laureate of New Jersey. My only petty little disagreement is with the headline: Anti-Semitism, Not Poetry. The term “poetry” identifies a genre of literature, not the content. There’s no reason why poetry can’t be bigoted. There are plenty of reasons why it shouldn’t be.

October 7, 2002

First reaction…

Bush spoke tonight about Iraq ahead of a vote in Congress to authorize the use of force to effect “regime change.” Recent polls show that a majority of Americans support–with qualifications–military action against Iraq for the purpose of removing Saddam Hussein. A president always speaks to multiple audiences. Two of the most important audiences tonight were Congress and those Americans who are still worried about military action. Bush delivered a low-key address full of deductive argument and emotional appeals. He looked and sounded like the leader of a superpower (due in large part to the low-key delivery), and this delivery sold the message. I’ll be surprised if his polls don’t jump and the Congress fails to give him the vote he wants (assured). I’ll have a more detailed analysis of the rhetorical features of this address on Presidential Campaign Rhetoric 2004 by Thursday afternoon.

October 7, 2002

Story before speech…

It’s almost 6:00 CDT, and Bush will give his address to the nation in just a little more than an hour. It’s nice to get news from the future. Apparently the speech comes off without a hitch. Ken Layne and InstaPundit find all this silly and disturbing.

UPDATE (5:55 p.m.): MSNBC has a different tense on the situation, i.e. “While there are many dangers in the world, the threat from Iraq stands alone

October 7, 2002

Speech geared to doubters…

Bush Speech on Iraq Geared to Doubters I’ll try to have an initial reaction soon after the speech. Because the rhetorical purpose of this address is interesting, I will do an analysis for Presidential Campaign Rhetoric 2004. Look for it by Thursday afternoon.
UPDATE (2:26 p.m.): More information from CNN.

October 7, 2002

Domestic agenda poll…

Public Says Bush Needs to Pay Heed to Weak Economy This article is getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere today. Are polls news? I wonder.
UPDATE (2:30 p.m.): Here’s another reason polls are a problem. But others seem to think polls are becoming less accurate and, therefore, less useful.

October 6, 2002

A revolution as fake as TV…

Ben Fritz, writing for The American Prospect, is a little late with his take on the proposed FX TV show American Candidate. I do, however, agree with several of his points (see here and here). His concluding paragraph is interesting, but not for the reasons he supposes:

It’s still highly unlikely, of course, that a new TV show on a cable network will produce America’s next president. But if American Candidate is successful and produces a contender who has an impact on the 2004 election, the major parties and the media might have to take a second look at how they’ve conducted our recent elections. Perhaps they’ll realize that a little more drama and a lot less emphasis on fund raising could help create a stronger democracy — and that a little built-in TV time can’t hurt.

Creating a stronger democracy is not an idea in serious play in American politics (except among the few citizens who worry about such things). Instead, winning is the name of the game. You can’t lead if you don’t win. Yes, if American Candidate has an impact on the election then the parties and the news media will likely adapt in some way to the implications of that impact. But don’t suppose it will have anything to do with creating a stronger democracy. Instead, any changes will attempt to exploit the new reality for political or monetary gain. TV only makes this situation worse by adding drama of a certain sort.
Fritz seems to believe that American Candidate will create good competition, or, perhaps, cogent debate, because the 100 “candidates” won’t have to fight for campaign dollars–FX foots the bill. Hmmmmm…let me see…100 candidates and 13 1-hour shows. Yep, we’ll sure get a comprehensive treatment of issues with this set up! Rather than break new ground in presenting candidates, FX will instead be forced to pander to the kind of information TV presents best: dramatic image. How will this be any different from the way TV currently covers presidential campaigns?
The most important point Fritz makes is that American Candidate might call critical attention to the lopsided and undemocratic primary process. That would be a good thing.

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