Monday, April 16, 2007

Shenanigans!

As any regular reader of this blog knows, I'm no fan of President George Bush. In fact, that's putting it very mildly. But, bullshit is as bullshit does and if you don't call bullshit when you see bullshit, well, chances are everything you say is bullshit, too.

To wit: I'm listening to the top-of-the-hour NPR News wrap-up this afternoon, which is largely concerned with the awful killings at Virginia Tech. They played a sound bite of White House spokesperson Dana Perino giving the president's reaction to the news, which consisted of two parts: first, he was horrified; second, he stands behind the Second frickin Amendment.


Don't look now, but your pants are on fire.

That got my blood boiling. Political philosophy notwithstanding, it's just unconscionable to bring up the subject of the Second frickin Amendment scant hours after over 30 innocent people were slaughtered in a hail of gunfire.

The AP confirmed what I heard on NPR. In fact, their most recent write-up of the story still confirms this tin-ear moment from President Bush. Here's how it looks:
A White House spokesman [sic] said President Bush was horrified by the rampage and offered his prayers to the victims and the people of Virginia. "The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
That rat bastard!

There's only one problem: the AP/NPR angle is complete bullshit.

Fair minded fellow that I am, I decided to go check out the full text of the press briefing on Whitehouse.gov before laying in to our jerk president. Here's how Dana Perino starts off:
Good afternoon. I have several announcements and then we'll go to questions.

The President was made aware of the Virginia Tech shootings. He was horrified and his immediate reaction was one of deep concern for the families of the victims, the victims, themselves, the students, the professors and all the people of Virginia who have dealt with this shocking incident. And his thoughts and prayers are with them; we are monitoring the situation. And while state and local authorities are in the lead right now — I think that will remain the case, but federal assets are available should they be needed, if Virginia were to request them.
Then she's off talking about funding for the troops in Iraq. You may notice that there's no mention whatsoever of guns, gun control or the Second frickin Amendment.

That's because those comments don't come until after five more paragraphs of Perino's prepared statement and after eight questions from the press corps have been answered. Then we get this:
Q: Dana, going back to Virginia Tech, what more does this White House think needs to be done as it relates to gun issues? The President says current laws need to be strengthened, anything beyond that — you had a conference on school violence with guns — what more needs to be done?

MS. PERINO: I would point you back to the fact that President, along with Secretary Spellings, hosted last October — October 10, 2006 — a conference on school gun violence after the Amish school shooting and the other shootings that had happened, because the tragedies are the ones that just collectively break America's heart and are ones that we deeply feel, because all of us can imagine what it would be like to have been at your own school, your own college, and to have something happen. And those of us who are parents, or brothers or sisters of people at the schools have to take that into consideration.

As far as policy, the President believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed. And certainly bringing a gun into a school dormitory and shooting — I don't want to say numbers because I know that they're still trying to figure out many people were wounded and possibly killed, but obviously that would be against the law and something that someone should be held accountable for.
So, the President's support for the Second frickin Amendment came in response to a reporter's question and was simply a reflection of the administration's previously-stated policy. It was clearly not at all central to the message the president wanted to impart after hearing of the massacre. In fact, there are plenty of nice, squishy quotable lines in Perino's opening gambit that the AP passed up to go with the 'right to bear arms' statement instead.


They're already bad enough. Why make crap up?

So the question becomes: why did the AP/NPR choose to couch their reports the way they did—or does that question even need an answer? It's an extraordinarily misleading juxtaposition for which there really isn't a plausible innocent explanation.

I'll give NPR a provisional pass here because in all likelihood they simply took the AP audio and inserted it into their report. The Associated Press has long been in the business of providing stock text and images, but they now also sell video and—I believe—audio.

The 'liberal media conspiracy' charlatans are always crowing about an alleged 'editorial slant' in the straight news and hell! if this ain't a perfect example. The AP took a prepared statement and an answer to a question posed some minutes later and unquestionably made it appear that both remarks were part of the same statement. There's no other word for that than 'bullshit'.

Someone might want to remind the mainstream media that the best way to avoid the 'biased' tag is to not deserve it.
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