Some of the most closely guarded documents in the White House are sure to be the ones written by the presidentâ€™s top media strategist. The public will never get to see the key memos from Karl Rove, but a typical one these days might read something like…
To: George and Dick
Re: Media Terrain
First, donâ€™t worry about Richard Clarke. Weâ€™ll fix his wagon.
About Condi testifying in public — people forget she can spin with the best. Is history ready for a black female Ollie North with a Ph.D.?
Closer to home now. I say this with the fondest high regard, etc., but both of you need to remember my admonition about looking a bit cartoonish on occasion. George, keep practicing that smile like I told you — it still drifts a little too much toward â€œWhat, Me Worry?â€ — and we sure donâ€™t need that in swing states. Repeat after me: â€œI am not Alfred E. Neuman…â€
And Dick. Respectfully. The hunched over talking-into-your-wrists thing has just got to go. I donâ€™t know if you and Lynne ever watch â€œThe Simpsons,â€ but Iâ€™ll give you a DVD. Sometimes when I see you on TV youâ€™re a dead ringer for Mr. Burns. Please watch a couple of â€œSimpsonsâ€ episodes and keep in mind that a lot of viewers actually donâ€™t share Burns’values.
Been thinking about the next media sit-downs. George, I donâ€™t want to put you through another â€œMeet the Pressâ€ kind of grilling. Naturally, Matthews over at â€œHardballâ€ still wants a shot, but of course heâ€™s not the sweetheart Clinton/Gore-basher of yesteryear. For now, we may want to stick with Beachball Jim over at the â€œNewsHour.â€
About shoring up the right side of the New York Times op-ed page: Iâ€™m trying to find out who can lean on David Brooks without getting his back up. For a right-minded guy heâ€™s been something of a disappointment, I have to say, not even as reliable as Bill Safire (clearly our best regular over there). Speaking of Safire, letâ€™s see if we can do something extra nice — his recent columns spreading our thin stuff about Qaeda and Saddam were quite helpful.
Also at the New York Times, itâ€™s great to see Bill Keller backing up Judith Miller. I love his statement posted on the Times website March 25 — â€œa smart, well-sourced, industrious and fearless reporter with a keen instinct for news … she has sometimes stepped on toes, but that is hardly grounds for rebuke.â€ Chalabi spins her about weapons of mass destruction before the war, she promptly gets it on Page One as authoritative, and now the top editor is standing behind her. Terrific!
Overall, our echo chamber is sounding good. Lapses aside, Rush is punching the bad guysâ€™ lights out. Likewise Oâ€™Reilly and the rest of the stallions in the Murdoch stables — especially at Fox News, Weekly Standard, New York Post.
Meanwhile, the Washington Times is true to form. (If our luck holds, the rest of the media wonâ€™t ever figure out that our dear Rev. Moon over there actually hates
At moments of downbeat news about the campaign, try doing what I do: Think of Ralph Nader. The guyâ€™s still telling reporters heâ€™s opening a â€œsecond frontâ€ against us. Is he deluded or disingenuous? Either way, you gotta love him when national polls show how he helps us against Kerry.
One of my favorite Nader claims is that heâ€™s going to attract a lot of conservative voters. I didnâ€™t even mind Jon Stewartâ€™s quip on the subject. (â€œConservatives for Nader. Not a large group. About the same size as â€˜Retarded Death Row Texans for Bush.â€™â€) After all, we donâ€™t worry about offending the felons vote. Even if theyâ€™re not waiting to be executed, theyâ€™ve sure had a hard time getting into a voting booth. (Thank you Jeb!) Iâ€™m so happy Naderâ€™s running again, I almost donâ€™t hate tort lawyers anymore.
George, stay on that white horse and remember to leave the nitty-gritty to me. I certainly abhor the title of that book about me (â€œBushâ€™s Brainâ€), but a great concept is aptly stated in there: â€œBush traveling the high road, Rove pursuing the low.â€ I wonâ€™t get to
Norman Solomon is co-author of â€œTarget