Lapdogs

LAPDOGS….Over at Firedoglake, Peter Daou is hosting a discussion of Eric Boehlert?s book Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush. I finally cleared away my pile of required reading a couple of weeks ago and read Lapdogs, which turned out to be pretty good: a partisan survey, to be sure, as media critiques almost inevitably are, but one with a more than normally compelling comparison to make. Instead of simply accusing the media of being generally liberal or generally conservative (or generally anything), Boehlert focuses primarily on the distinct difference in tone between coverage of the Clinton and Bush administrations. That’s fertile ground.

And if you’re the kind of person who likes to browse books in bookstores instead of actually buying them, my browsing recommendation is Chapter 7, an examination of press coverage of the Swift Boat debacle of 2004. Boehlert’s question here is clear: why was this covered as a serious controversy instead of the vicious smear attack that campaign veterans in the press corps surely recognized it as? After all, (a) there was no evidence to back up even a single one of the Swift Boat charges, (b) there were enormous gaping holes in the stories told by the Swifties, and (c) every piece of documentary evidence dug up by reporters contradicted what the Swifties said. That should have been the story, but most often it was buried or soft-pedaled (“In the end, what happened 35 years ago remains murky….”). Boehlert’s summary of how the coverage unfolded is the best I’ve read.

So: buy the book. Failing that, read chapter 7. The Firedoglake discussion is here.