Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 21, 2009

THE MEDIA LOVES ITS (MANUFACTURED) SHOWDOWNS.... Dick Cheney, as you may have heard, will give a speech this morning about how great his approach to national security was and is. If you're interested in watching, don't worry, you'll have plenty of chances to see it.

Looks like Dick Cheney's big national security speech at the American Enterprise Institute ... is going to get wall-to-wall cable coverage -- giving a major assist to those who hope that his speech will be seen as "dueling" with the one that Obama is planning to give on the same topic tomorrow.

Both CNN and MSNBC will be carrying Cheney's speech live tomorrow, in addition to carrying Obama's, spokespeople for both networks confirm to me, barring the intrusion of some major news event.

I haven't seen official word from Fox News about its plans, but I'm going to assume the network will air the speech live, just as soon as its reporters finish feeding Cheney grapes while he lounges in the AEI green-room.

Because President Obama will be delivering an important speech on national security policy this morning -- not to be confused with Cheney's efforts -- news outlets are excited about the notion of a "duel" or a "boxing match" between the two. CNN's Wolf Blitzer sees today as a confrontation between two powerful opposing forces.

This is no doubt exactly the frame Republicans are desperate to see the media embrace, but that doesn't change the fact that it's terribly misguided. As Katia Bachko explained very well yesterday, "[I]t's completely unreasonable to frame these two speeches as an actual debate between two equals. We have a democratically elected president, and an unpopular former politician who are not directly engaging with one another. The question of national security is too important to sidestep in favor of a falsely construed schoolyard fight between a bully and the class president. What's more, to set up these speeches as a contest presupposes that there might be an actual winner. But this sort of shallow, politics-as-a-game coverage only makes losers -- of the press and of the public."

The president's speech begins at 10 a.m. (eastern), to be delivered at the National Archives. Cheney's think-tank speech is scheduled to begin 45 minutes later, though if Obama goes long, I suspect the former vice president will delay his remarks for maximum media impact.

Post Script: Some emailers noted yesterday that Al Gore, had he delivered a major speech early on in the Bush/Cheney presidency, might have received similar media attention. It's hard to say for sure, since Gore bit his tongue for two years, as is consistent with the historical norms.

But I'd add, for the record, that Gore delivered some extraordinary speeches early in 2004 -- one at an event sponsored by MoveOn, the other at the New School in New York. Neither was covered live by the cable networks.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

The question I want answered is who scheduled which speech first. Was there an actual attempt by either to make their speeches coincide?

Posted by: Danp on May 21, 2009 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

Re the Gore speeches, not only were "Neither was covered live by the cable networks.", they were generally snickered at.

Posted by: wvng on May 21, 2009 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

You know, if GWB is the great guy he thinks himself to be, he'd step forward and derail this lingering hemorrhoid, Cheney. Given what we've read about that relationship, you have to wonder if this shit is making his blood boil too.

On second thought, probably not.

Posted by: MissMudd on May 21, 2009 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

The 24/7 news community has to make news where there is none. Sort of like the manufactured "duel" between Obama and Clinton last year.

Posted by: phoebes-in-santa fe on May 21, 2009 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

That the corporate media takes the perspective that this is "an actual debate between two equals" is less than surprising.

That the corporate media presents torture being done by the United States as something debatable is not surprising.

The corporate media is owned by rethugs. The corporate media is just doing their assigned task of being an echo chamber and amplifier for the rethugs.

While on the topic of corporate media, may I add some more hate for David Broder. In his opinion piece in today's Washington Post (which appears to desire to emulate the Washington Times), he declares that "today's Democrats really are isolated from the military".

Broder's reasoning is that Clinton was a draft dodger and Obama "never gave a thought to volunteering for the military". He cites Kennedy and Carter as having served in the Navy. He declares that the "prevailing ideology of grass-roots Democratic activists has been hostile to American military actions and skeptical of the military itself".

It must be wonderful to be able to read the mind of our President and the minds of all of the grassroots Democratic activists!

Of course, no mention is made of Rethugs. Bush Jr. was a deserter, not matter how you want to cover it up. This was after he used political influence to avoid the possibility of having to go to Viet Nam. Bush I's claim to military fame is getting shot down as a pilot. St. Ronnie is acclaimed a genuine military hero for being a bad actor in WWII propaganda films (while never serving in the military).

David Broder is the 'dean' of all inside the beltway assholes.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on May 21, 2009 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

yes but who would win if they were on Dancing With the Stars? My bet's on O.

Posted by: johnnymags on May 21, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Those commentatore mentioning Al Gore are dead wrong. Al Gore did have major policy speeches after leaving office (albeit 2 years later). These speeches, about global warming, were never covered live, with the exception of Air America radio.

In fact, the only time an Al Gore speech was covered by major media, the coverage was spurred on by conservative media mocking Gore's "he played on our fears" comments.

The amount of coverage the MSM gives to arguably the most despised VP in our history, as well as to a certain disgraced former Speaker, belies any notion of a "liberal media".

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on May 21, 2009 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

B-but Joe Scarborough says that if we only polled Cheney's policies, he would certainly be more popular than Obama. A Republican's imaginary poll is more relevant of course.

It's hard to say for sure, since Gore bit his tongue for two years, as is consistent with the historical norms.

It's also consistent with respectable people who aren't trying to stay out of jail or avoid prosecution.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on May 21, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

Haven't you guys heard? The only reason Cheney's so despised is 'cause the media savagely attacked him for EIGHT SOLID YEARS. Joe Scarborough said so.

Posted by: Tea Bagger Jones on May 21, 2009 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

You know, if GWB is the great guy he thinks himself to be, he'd step forward and derail this lingering hemorrhoid, Cheney.

It would be interesting to know if he tried and was rebuffed. Cheney clearly thinks that he can do whatever he wants at this point.

Posted by: shortstop on May 21, 2009 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

>"...Public opinion of Cheney rises..."

CNN front page. Need to find the means to transport to another planet. One with sane inhabitants.

Posted by: Buford on May 21, 2009 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Only a record number of hurricanes this season will bump Cheney from primetime.

Posted by: jen f on May 21, 2009 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

god damn dick cheney's shit-filled soul to hell.

Posted by: neill on May 21, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

"Cheney clearly thinks that he can do whatever he wants at this point." I'm not sure why this point is any different from the last eight freakin' years. Cheney's always done what he wanted, and left the mess for others to clean up.

As to Bush trying to control him: that's a laugh. Eight years as Cheney's sock puppet isn't the best training for that sort of thing.

Posted by: azportsider on May 21, 2009 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

CNN's Wolf Blitzer sees today as a confrontation between two powerful opposing forces....This is no doubt exactly the frame Republicans are desperate to see the media embrace.

Oh, Republicans aren't that desperate. The media is wired for them, and has not let the Republicans down since...well, can you recall when? The media are largely owned by Republican interests. This is not new.

Posted by: terraformer on May 21, 2009 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Dick Cheney is a dick. And so is the media.

Posted by: David Bailey on May 21, 2009 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure why this point is any different from the last eight freakin' years. Cheney's always done what he wanted, and left the mess for others to clean up.

I don't quite agree. People have been accusing Bush of being Cheney's sock puppet for eight years, but I think we have plenty of evidence that Cheney played bad cop to Bush's...um, I guess stupid cop would be the best description. Except for a few places where they publicly butted heads, like Libby's pardon, and a few other things on which Cheney went around Bush (not hard to do with someone that oblivious), Cheney was pretty much doing what Bush wanted him to do. He was The Enforcer. And he could do those things because a) he's a sociopath and b) there was no chance of him ever having to run for office afterward.

There's a qualitative difference to these daily temper tantrums now. Cheney's really reached "Fuck it, I don't care" mode. Practically the entire Republican party -- although not the media -- is trying to get him to shut up, and he's not about to.

Posted by: shortstop on May 21, 2009 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Yes Neil, but first he has to have a "successful" heart attack which we all wish he would. I also hope that Limbaugh's kidneys fail.

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on May 21, 2009 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

The Corporate/Repiglican media is akin the the MAFIA ........it's essentially a criminal enterprise that commits journalistic fraud .. if corporate hemmorroids like Wolf Blizter were honest he would put on his corporate CNN uniform, goose step around his set with one arm stretched out ala 'seig heil' and with the other masturbating himself while sniveling in mind numbing repetition 'CNN, CNN, CNN .......

Posted by: stormskies on May 21, 2009 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

America needs a channel like the British BBC or the Canadian CBC, maybe a high-quality version of PBS, fully funded by the state.

To me, democratic-state-run-TV is much less scary than corporate-ratings-run-TV, which is all we have today.

News coverage, just like banking, needs to be boring again.

Posted by: Ohioan on May 21, 2009 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't the Cheney-vs-Obama frame extremely helpful to the Democrats, and extremely damaging to the Republicans?

Posted by: goethean on May 21, 2009 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Watching the MSNBC coverage of Obama's speech was truly disgusting. Since when does anyone puit up "dueling quotes" on half the screen during a President's speech? Does anyone think these scum would do something like that with a Republican? Want to think what the screams would have been over the past 4 years if Bush's speeches had been treated with similar disdain by the media?

The real problem in this country is that the media is Republican. As was once said "the press is free to he who owns one."

Posted by: TCinLA on May 21, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

This fucking thing with the 'dueling' speeches is the perfect fucking example of the repiglican/ corporate media creating 'reality' that only exits because they create it .. how many americans today are going thru their life thinking about the 'dueling speeches' of cheney and obama ? fucking none .. it's a total corporate media creation .. and only exists because of them making it so .. 'reality is what we say it is' .. remember this from bush's goon bartlett ? now employed by, of course, CBS .. the criminal broadcasting company ... the corporate media is a clear and present danger to what is left of our once great country ...

Posted by: stormskies on May 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I am with goethean. Isn't this a giant case of "Oh noes, MSM! Please don't throw me in that briar patch!"

In what world is it a bad thing for the American people to judge the efficacy of two differing approaches to terrorism by having sequential speeches by Obama, who is widely recognized as a great orator who consistently speaks to the American people like adults, and Cheney, who is the Penguin only more of an a-hole?

The only complaint I have is that since Obama is a moderate voice the whole debate gets shifted to the middle instead of to the left. But at the very least, at least Cheney's POV will be thoroughly undermined.

Posted by: socratic_me on May 21, 2009 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Dick Cheney giving a speech on national security is like Bill Buckner giving a speech on how to field ground balls. Does the Age of Incompetence ever end?!?! You guys effed up royally. Can we move on please?!?!

Posted by: John Henry on May 21, 2009 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

But Al Gore was crazy. He had a beard!

Posted by: kitsune on May 21, 2009 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

When the Dark Lord speaks, his corporatist lackeys listen.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on May 21, 2009 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

As I'm sitting here reading these comments, eating my Deer Jerky(it was a nice deer too. 165lbs. 10 points taken in West Tx.) anyway I've always wanted to comment on,... hold on I have a peppercorn stuck in my tooth.........thats better...You people seem ....You know I just remembered I need gas for my 3/4 ton Suburban, leaving for Co. in the morning to go 4wheeling in the mountains. Sorry I have to finish this later, I have a meeting with my Employees before I go on my vacation. Its hard having your own company.

Posted by: cd on May 21, 2009 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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