And it surely happened in Iraq, where reporters — risking their lives to cover the deadliest conflict for journalists since World War II — have largely discredited their critics’ cries that they are reporting the carnage and chaos at the expense of the unseen good news in that country. It’s obvious who has credibility in that argument. Driven down by public gloominess about the course of the war (a new CBS/New York Times survey shows that only 39 percent now believe starting the Iraq conflict was a good decision), the president’s job-approval ratings now languish in the 30s.

Discussing those droopy numbers on ABC’s This Week, First Lady Laura Bush offered her view that the media “may be enjoying this a little bit.”

But in the spirit of what is supposed to be a checks-and-balances, conflict-laden relationship, each side should stop blaming the other for its problems and go about its work. It’s usually pretty easy to tell who’s doing the better job.

On the Web
Mark Jurkowitz's Media Log: http://www.thephoenix.com/medialog/
Nixon's Enemies List: http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Nixon's_Enemies_List
Business Week review of Spin Cycle: Inside the Clinton Propaganda Machine: http://www.businessweek.com/1998/13/b3571040.htm

Email the author
Mark Jurkowitz: mjurkowitz@phx.com

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Clash of the Titans
The live Jan. 25, 1988, “interview” between Vice-President George H.W. Bush and CBS anchor Dan Rather goes down in the annals of TV history as one of the nastiest confrontations ever between newsmaker and newsman. Angered by Rather’s attempt to grill him on the Iran-Contra scandal, Bush lashed back in whiny high dudgeon, drawing some blood when he asked if Rather wanted to be remembered by his infamous stroll off the CBS set. Rather, clearly loaded for bear, repeatedly scolded the veep, at one point warning him ominously to be careful with his facts, and at another juncture declaring: “You’ve made us hypocrites in the face of the world.” Both sides had engaged in extensive debate prep before the event, but that didn’t keep both men from losing their cool. After the encounter, the vice-president uttered one of his famous Bushisms by declaring, “It was Tension City when you’re in there.” At the end of the day, neither man had done himself much good. But the early calls pouring into Boston’s Channel 7 ran in the vice-president’s favor by a 56-44 percent margin.
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