Sunday, June 20, 2010

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: A Trilogy of Manipulative Media Types - Part I

On Thursday, according to The Huffington Post, President Obama hosted a small lunch for a select group of Progressive media types.
Amongst the guests were Susan Collins of the New York Times, Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. I wonder if Rachel’s main course included a healthy serving of crow, considering the luncheon took place 24 hours after the President effected the establishment of a $20 billion escrow account, as well as $100 million from BP for clean-up expenses in the Gulf as well as a cover for wages lost on the part of those people whose livelihoods were affected by BP’s negligence/incompetence, and 48 hours after her celebrated attempt at biting satire by establishing herself as “Fake President Obama” in a mock-up Oval Office, for the purpose of instructing the President (and the nation) on what, precisely, Rachel had wanted the President to say in his Oval Office address.
Suffice it to say, that, in Dr Maddow’s opinion, the President’s address was distinctively below par, and what she had wanted him to say, was infinitely better.
Yes, I know it was meant as satire, but Rachel’s forays into satire lately have fallen a bit flat.
Still, she was invited to this luncheon, which had probably been planned a long time before the Oval Office speech, and the President is good-natured and thick-skinned enough probably to have ribbed her about her effort, with good grace, and maybe even gave her a tour of the real Oval Office, itself. He seems to be that sort of soul.
But I hope she did have to swallow a bit of crow that afternoon and that a little bit of egg stuck to her face, especially considering that, 24 hours after her attempt, the President had shown, without a shadow of a doubt, that however vague and directionless his Oval Office speech appeared to be on Tuesday evening, by Wednesday afternoon, we were given no doubt that there was intended and well-planned action behind the narrative.
Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to second-guess a President, just as sometimes it’s necessary for a President, the gambler-in-chief, to play his cards close to his chest, especially regarding the 24/7 cable news media.
Rachel is young, clever, ueber-intelligent and with a high level of political acumen. She’ll learn from this, and she should. In fact, she’s probably the only person, certainly the only woman, in that cable news equivalent of Animal House with any kind of either personal of professional integrity, and she deserves better.
In fact, near the end of what I hope will be the President’s second term, perhaps he and Rachel will meet for an interview and share a laugh in the real Oval Office about her attempted foray into the fake one.
One noticeable absentee from the luncheon was the self-styled Queen Mother of the Progressive Movement, herself. In fact, near the end of what was really a very short, concise article (by HuffPo standards, anyway), was a pithy sentence, which simply stated, “Huffington Post founder and editor-in-chief, Arianna Huffington, was invited to the luncheon, but could not attend due to scheduling commitments.”
Who, in their right mind, turns down an invitation for lunch with the President at the White House? Certainly not someone who had righteously railed against the too-big-to-fail financial CEO’s who let it be known earlier this year that they were too important to travel to Washington for any sort of negotiation with the President. Huffington, rightly, called them out for being distinctly disrespectful – not that she hasn’t, on many occasions, herself, been openly and scathingly disrespectful of Obama as President of the United States.
Her recent assessment of the President was that he was a “Nowhere Man”, in a low, sarcastic and inaccurate criticism of the fact that, in her estimation, the President paid far too much attention to honouring Paul McCartney at the White House, when he should have removed all White House operations, physically, to the Gulf for the foreseeable future.
If she were, indeed, too busy to lunch with the President, not only was that the height of disrespect, it was also amazingly hypocritical, considering her slating of the financal fat cats.
But I don’t think she was too busy or double-booked for this event. I don’t think she was even invited.
A media whore like Huffington would kill for the opportunity of sitting down at a table to eat with the President and monopolise the event. Her site would be filled, for days thereafter, with a plethora of photographs:-
- Here’s Arianna being greeted by the President, upon her arrival at the White House. See how he bows from the waist.
- Here’s Arianna at the table, seated at the right hand of the President.
- Here’s Arianna on the sofa with the President. See how her hand lingers on his knee.
You get the picture (pun intended).
After days of photos, there would be an infinity of blogs, replete with Presidential name-droppings:-
“I told the President, over lunch on Thursday …”
“I’m pleased that he President appears to have listened to what I said …”
“The President told me …”
“As I was saying to the President …”
But, no … Arianna had a conflict of schedules, and couldn’t attend, even after making continuous and gratuitous Obama-bashing part and parcel of her meme, almost since the President assumed office in early 2009.
Seen from that angle, his reeks of disrespect. The action speaks volumes in saying that this President is such a disappointment as to be totally insignificant and unworthy of this grande dame’s attentions; and, subtly, by extension, he should be singularly unworthy of her dittoes’ attentions too. It was a dismissal.
Yet, it seems, a worm of deceit is turning, because many of the people commentating on the article, regular readers of her aggregate, saw through the deception.
Arianna wasn’t invited. She never had been.
It was a lie.
Thursday evening, I received an e-mail from a close friend, who lives and works amongst the great and the not-so-good in Washington. Considering the fact that, living in England, I’m five hours ahead of the East Coast, it would have been about 3pm when he sent the correspondence.
Knowing I’m not the greatest Arianna fan, he thought he’d rib me by saying he’d seen her that afternoon. Arianna, on Thursday, was indeed in Washington, DC – eating lunch in The Palms, an ueber-posh, ueber-expensive steakhouse on 19th Street … alone.
Maybe she does consider him an irrelevance, and maybe she did decline the invitation; but maybe, in view of the fact that a lot of her criticism and shilling has bordered almost on a point of sedition, it was the White House, who thought she was irrelevant. Maybe the “Nowhere Man” saw fit to remind her that exactly what the word “nowhere” means, in terms of influence, or perceived influence.

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