Friday, January 06, 2006

Presstitute of the Day: Jim VandeHei Buys Operation Photo Op, Oval Office edition, 1.0, Hook, Line and Sinker

Is Jim VandeHei the worst political journalist currently plying his trade? He's gotta make the top five, for gems like this:

New York Times on Operation Photo Op, Oval Office edition: Visited by a Host of Administrations Past, Bush Hears Some Chastening Words

Jim VandeHei's take on the very same meeting, for the Washington Post: Voices From History Echo Anew
Former Cabinet Officers Offer Advice on Iraq to Commander in Chief

Journalism is all about the basics, right? Who, what, when, where, why.

Like, how long did this "meeting" take?

Bush spent an hour with [] prominent foreign policy voices

Not really, according to David Sanger of the New York Times:

an exceedingly upbeat 40-minute briefing to 13 former secretaries of state and defense about how well things are going in Iraq,

followed by
But if it was a bipartisan consultation, as advertised by the White House, it was a brief one. Mr. Bush allowed 5 to 10 minutes for interchange with the group - which included three veterans of the Vietnam era: Robert S. McNamara, Melvin R. Laird and James R. Schlesinger - before herding the whole group into the Oval Office for what he called a "family picture."

And who did the assembled really get to meet with? Not exactly the principals:
Those who wanted to impart more wisdom to the current occupants of the White House were sent back across the hall to meet again with Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But as several of the participants noted, by that time Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had gone on to other meetings.

All of the detail provided by Sanger, omitted by VandeHei, as to the details of the meeting tell us the truth. It was a photo op, using the former officials for that nice Oval Office photo at the top of each article. Bush didn't even meet with them for more than 5 or 10 minutes, if he listened at all. (Listening not exactly his forte, you know?)

VandeHei's concludes his paean of praise to Bush for the photo op with this obsequious paragraph:

Still, it was a sense of the span of history in the room -- as much as the future of Iraq -- that left a lasting impression for many in attendance. "It was a sense that when we walked into the room and you see the personalities as far back as McNamara . . . that it was a good feeling among people who have shouldered considerable responsibility in the past and understand what this administration now confronts," Cohen said.


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