Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I think I like it

The White House is making noises about turning off the video in the briefing room. From the WWaPo:
The problem, they say, is that the daily session has become a hostage to television cameras with both sides frequently posturing and sparring to the point that little actual news is imparted.
It means that tensions often flare in the venerable old briefing room, a cramped place of scuffed carpets, chairs that seem on the verge of collapse and a general air of fatigue and overuse that surprises visitors.

"The press briefing today I believe has lost much of its usefulness," said Marlin Fitzwater, who was a press secretary for both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Whether the daily briefing changes under the incoming press secretary, conservative Washington pundit Tony Snow, will say a lot about how much Bush is willing to shift his press strategy as he tries to pull out of a decline in the polls.

New White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten told "Fox News Sunday" that it was worth considering putting an end to live television coverage of the briefing but no change seemed likely soon, if at all, with strong opposition anticipated from the broadcast media.
Other than giving "The Daily Show" five minutes of easy laughs nearly every day, I don't see any value in these scheduled bull sessions. The networks treat them as if they were newsworthy, but from where I sit, they are to news as, to quote Mark Twain, a lighting bug is to lightning.

If the White House is thinking about pulling the plug, they must have come to the conclusion that McClellan's stonewalling was finally taking a toll, and that replacing him with Tony Snow isn't going to fix the problem. But I wonder if they have really thought this one through.

Under the current system, the TV news can pretend it is reporting on the White House simply by showing a few clips of the Press Secretary's vamping. Self-important "Senior White House Correspondents" can supply their daily quota of footage without doing any actual work. So it is no surprise that these lazy bastards want to have continued access to their quick fixes.

Now imagine the situation post-blackout. This isn't a slam-dunk by any means, but assume that there are not enough missing white women to fill the hole left in the nightly newscast. Also assume that David Gregory and his cohorts are neither downsized nor re-assigned to Today Show-like fluffery. What are they going to do?

What if, having had all other options foreclosed, they decided to do some actual, you know, reporting?

Hey, it could happen. And if it happens as a result of the White House trying to clam up even further than before, the irony will be especially scrumptilicious.


Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

I worry about more incidents like the one where the "official" white house transcript disagreed with the captured audio.

How about 1 camera - from C-SPAN. Let the networks license video from them to keep C-SPAN funded. Ooh - or PBS. Maybe we'd get fewer pledge drives.

10:18 PM  

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