Howard Kurtz’s latest Washington Post Media Notes is a fascinating reflection on the almost impossible task of keeping up with the rate of scandal blistering the media landscape.
I’m in the business of connecting the dots.
And it’s been raining media dots lately. In fact, I’m getting bleary-eyed just trying to keep up.
First the big story was Howard Dean, who made John Kerry seem like old news. Then the big story was Wes Clark, who made Dean look dated. Then, just as the WMD debate was taking a brief respite, the Bob Novak controversy erupts, quickly morphing into a Justice Department probe of potentially illegal White House leaking about a CIA operative.
And just when I was starting to get my rhythm on that story, Rush Limbaugh is pinned in the end zone for racially charged remarks about a black quarterback. But before I could finish typing about that, he’s under investigation for buying illegal painkillers.
Only that story gets blown away by a 3,577-word report in the L.A. Times about the Gropinator, according to a half-dozen women who had close encounters of the unpleasant kind with Arnold.
And no sooner was I going to write about the absurdity of the Schwarzenegger campaign’s flat denials than Arnold apologizes, sort of.
Conservative commentators are screaming that it’s all just the product of endless liberal media scheming. However a number of commentators have invoked the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal effectively saying what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Martin Kaplan, associate dean of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg communication school makes the more substantive point:
“In the post-Lewinsky era, I think we’ve raised the bar and you have to be one step short of a serial killer to really be seen as violating community standards.”
But the biggest scandal doesn’t even make Kurtz’s initial list: Bush’s trite claim that the U.S. inspector David Kay’s interim report “vindicated” the case for war. The report clearly says however, that no WMDs had been found and seems to largely confirm reports such as those in the latest Time that Sadam’s WMD program had largely been disbanded after the 1st Gulf War.
This is of course as Kurtz notes at the end of his article “the elephant in the room”. He also aptly notes that in Washington, as with politics generally, “every battle is a proxy for something larger”.