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In my first post today, I pointed out that the elected Democratic leadership has decided on a "blame the messenger" strategy in answering Howard Dean's critics, rather than disassociate themselves from his hate-filled rants. One would expect the media to take offense at Dick Durbin's notion that journalists reporting Dean's comments verbatim somehow become right-wing hacks. However, Mark Leibovich of the Washington Post takes up Durbin's banner and attempts to make him sound reasonable:
It was a scalding day on Capitol Hill yesterday, and that includes tempers. Things got particularly hot during a photo op in the office of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) after the minority leader and his Senate deputies completed a 17-minute meeting with the hot-tongued Howard Dean.
About 60 reporters and cameramen attempted to shove their way into an office equipped to handle about 20. The resulting spectacle offered yet another distillation of why so many people believe that politicians and the media deserve each other. ...
The madness began at 10:30 a.m. when the media horde was invited to enter Reid's office. Photographers poured in first, equipment slamming into the sides of a narrow doorway and -- in one case -- the temple of a female staffer. Reporters were invited in next, but roughly 20 reporters were unable to crowd in and were left to shout objections through the bottleneck. "You can't start yet," one yelled from the back. "The reporters aren't in."
Leibovich then describes the normal madhouse of impromptu press conferences, especially those for which proper preparations have not been made. According to Leibovich's own account, the only questions asked of Reid, Dean, and the other Senators present were about Dean's inflammatory comments and their reaction to them. Leibovich doesn't bother to name any of the correspondents -- except one:
The press chorus then devolved into a cacophony of competing screams. (And Dean knows screams!) After several seconds, a booming voice cut through the noise. It belonged to Brian Wilson, a Fox News correspondent who was standing in the middle of the crowd. He asked Dean "if people are focused on the other things that you've said about hating Republicans, about Republicans being dishonest and then this latest comment about the Republican Party is full of white Christians. You say you hate Republicans -- does that mean you also'' hate white Christians?
Dean didn't respond and Reid talked about having a "positive agenda." Wilson was so insistent that at one point, Durbin asked, "Does he run the press conference?" After Reid took the one question of the morning that was not about Dean (it was about Iraq) there were a host of disjointed and semi-decipherable follow-ups (none of which was about Iraq).
Wilson, of course, works for Fox News -- the same organization that Durbin tried telling the media is responsible for what comes out of Howard Dean's mouth. Leibovich castigates Wilson for his insistence on getting an answer from Dean and Reid, even though the two never answered his first question and instead came up with the ironic non-sequitur of having a "positive agenda". By Leibovich's own account, Wilson didn't start the topic, and everyone else save one reporter asked about nothing else other than Dean's hate-filled rants.
So why did Leibovich single out Fox News and Brian Wilson? Could it have been an effort to prove Dick Durbin's silly allegation that the entire news media takes its cues from Fox?
My friend and blog colleague Craig Westover once said that the difference between butt-kissing and brown-nosing is the depth of penetration. I'd say that Leibovich goes pretty deep on this one.
UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has more to this story. Pettiness reigns!Sphere It View blog reactions
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