Bush mutters, relief sputters

CHI NEWSPAPERS: . . . Lynn Sweet has a scoop Sunday 9/4/05 in a column that her eds. gave top billing in Sun-T's fairly new and rather good Controversy section.  Eds. called it "For this one, BUSH deserves the heat." The scoop was the no-holds-barred self-revelation. It came by way of an atrocious pseudo-journalistic self-therapeutic outpouring which she began, "I want to vent." This comes under her pic in which she's looking at the camera with a very hard look.

Now newspaper professionals are supposed to tell about the world, not about themselves, which is why this is pseudo-journalistic, and from a Washington bureau chief no less. And from one only days removed from holding N. Shore Dem Rep. Schakowsky's hand in public, helping her to get over her husband's guilty plea for stealing money for the sake of his own emolument and continued operation of his "public interest" organization, non-profit of course (nothing so sleezy or infra dig as for profit). Her Schakowsky column was just what the spin doctors ordered. Schakowsky could not have been more pleased. In fact, Sweet often produces p.r. releases under guise of columns, as Chicago Newspapers pointed out in her glowing account with publicity shot Aug. 11 of one Christine Cegelis, a Democrat going for Henry Hyde’s congressional seat in DuPage County. She hadn't chosen the picture, she responded in an email, nor did on Sunday she place her column about Bush, nor give it such BIG PLAY. She writes the columns, however. I call it pseudo-journalism. 

It’s also exhibit #1,379 (applied locally) of Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas’ claim or admission that mainstream media are worth 15 points to a Dem presidential candidate, later knocking it down to five, while still saying they “absolutely” wanted Kerry to win.

This time around, Sweet tears into Bush's "flim-flam" (is that venting or not? she said that she would do it, and indeed she did). He went for photo-ops clumsily, she says. He indulged in “overwhelming understatement” of the problem — didn’t bite his lip, as the old actor Bubba could do so well.  She even gets "weapons of mass destruction" into the picture. Remember them? (Venting here: they are still on her mind.) But cable TV is bigger than ever, and he can't get away with it any more.

Along the way of her vent, Sweet offers doomsday analysis of the State of Bush, including the dire effects of the Cindy Sheehan performance, she being "the face of the anti-war movement," home life shot to hell and all.

But would not we more likely be convinced of Sweet’s analysis if it were not part of self-therapeutics? No wonder she resonates with Sheehan, and maybe with the hysterical, cussing and weeping on radio Mayor Nagin, whom she does not mention, much less suggest as part of the problem, having presided over a city that was already chaotic in some neighborhoods, thanks to a culture of lawlessness unhampered by police or courts, a city that had created its own witness protection program.

Nope. She may have presented her column as about her, but it's all about Bush, who again lied while people died? Something like that.  The woman is overwrought.

"The Bushes were managing images . . . This MBA president needs to manage people," she writes. Well he is the chief executive, isn't he? So what? Sweet drops all pretense of objectivity. She's venting to the girls and boys in the coed dorm. But never fear: on Monday she's back on the beat, calling them as she see's 'em. At least the objectivity format will be more or less back in place.  (She came back with another Democrat-oriented column, about Sen. Barack Obama on his way to Houston to be with Bush I and Clinton for a photo-op session — oops, not that, rather, to help out, you know.  She reverentially, even worshipfully, lobs qq at Obama, who obliges, as if it’s news that he does not blame the Feds more than local New O. pols, for instance.  What a guy and what a gal.)

In the end, for her Sunday column she calls on another detached professional, "Barbie Zelizer" (does Barbie sign her journal articles that way?), a professor at Penn, "a scholar [let's hope, if she’s a Penn prof] whose specialty is the impact of images" — "Gender and Atrocity: Women in Holocaust Photographs" is one of her studies — and guess what she says? The pictures of the hurricane aftermath send "a different message than what is being touted [hey, the professor talks like a headline!] the official line of the administration." Presented, she means; she's a clear thinker?  Big on images.

Let us not carp, however. Sweet got her quote. End of story, end (we hope) of vent, which by the way is called a rant in the blogosphere, but never in mainstream media hard copy, which abides by more rigorous standards, does it not?


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