Friday, April 09, 2004

NEVER MIND ALL THAT -- HOWELL RAINES WAS A SOUTHERN LIBERAL! The New York Post outdoes itself today. No, not in that "Headless Body in Topless Bar" way -- the Murdoch rag hasn't shown that kind of brio in decades. I mean that its function as a Republican Party propaganda vehicle has seldom been so self-evident. It would seem the editors, finding the testimony of Condi Rice something of a wash (no bombshell revelations, no Joseph Welch moments), saw in the neutrality of the event a fine canvas upon which to paint a fantasy.

"THE LADY IS A CHAMP," cries the cover, "Tough Condi wins raves." The "raves" to which this refers might be the ones coming from the Post's own headline editors, who are egregiously eager to pump up our impression of the Security Advisor's performance. For example, while the news analysis of Deborah Orin is actually less doggedly spun than usual, it appears under the headline, "As 'great' as W knew she'd be," and the banner spread, "RICE THRIVES IN THE COOKER." We are also shown a large picture of Bob Kerrey appearing to reel from a head wound in a who's-hot-who's-not roundup called "Grading panel's partisan leanings."

The prize, however, goes to "SHE'S CAN-DO CONDI," the oddly titled report by Dan Kadison on the findings of five people hauled in off the street to give impressions of Rice's testimony. They are described as a "politically diverse" group of New Yorkers, comprising two Republicans, two Democrats, and two "Independents." (In New York City voter registration, by the way, Democrats outnumber Republicans five to one, and the last Republican Presidential candidate to carry the City was, I believe, Calvin Coolidge.) Highlights of the group's praise for Can-Do Condi: "She was blatantly evasive at times, but at other times just pretty honest." "I thought her opening statement was great, [as were] the questions and responses." "She was pretty much what I expected." Wow! When's the ticker-tape parade?

The Post is usually beneath notice, but it seemed instructive to note the howlingly obvious agenda of a large American newspaper that is not the New York Times. The Post has a greater circulation than the Chicago Sun-Times or the Miami Herald. It is, however, unable to survive on the quarters it collects from willing customers, and so must be sustained by funding from its publisher, the international villain Rupert Murdoch. This largesse permits the Post to daily pour its right-wing bilge into the same sluices served by Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, et alia, and thence down into the American mainstream, which has grown so brackish and distasteful after years of such pollution that its friends scarcely recognize it, and only the most desperate or deluded try to refresh themselves by its waters.

Meanwhile some people are complaining that Bob Kerrey is on TV.

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