February 1, 2004

viewed through a certain lens ...

Cori Dauber writes:

....Reporters tell people who the candidates are "as people," that rquires a master narrative, and once that narrative is in place (Gore dissembles, Bush just ain't that smart) that is the lens through which the campaigns are viewed. As Bill Krystal noted the other day, if Bill Clinton ("brilliant but disorganized") misspells potato, it isn't even a one-day story. It was a mistake, he must have been tired, or distracted, man needs more caffeine, what's the big deal? If it gets any coverage it's as a cute and humanizing moment. If Dan Quail ("empty suit") misspells a word, the campaign can't shake the story...
She speculates about the likelihood that a lot of information about Dean and Kerry was ignored by the press because it didn't fit the "master narrative." Dean raising heaps of money fit, Dean spending it recklessly didn't fit, and so was ignored.

I once read a fascinating account of the CIA under Reagan. One of Reagan's people started asking the question, Suppose the Soviet Union doesn't work? Do we have any evidence of that?" It turned out that there was a LOT of evidence. Stories of food riots and industrial strikes. The evidence had been ignored as long as our "master narrative" was that the Soviet Union was a superpower much like us, and the question for the CIA was to assess its strengths.

Probably something similar happened with the WMD's in Iraq. No one thought to ask "Do we have any evidence that Iraq's weapon programs are Potemkin Villages?" The curious aflatoxin story might have fit that bill.

Posted by John Weidner at February 1, 2004 11:04 AM
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