August 20, 2005: I can admit my mistakes (but I'm still right)
After reading my rant about the constricted coverage of Bush's ride with reporters last Saturday, Romulus brought some additional coverage of it to my attention. As you may remember, STB,J! was fairly critical of the scope and tenor of the MSM accounts of the ride. In particular, STB,J! challenged the fact that all published accounts of this ride were based on just two original articles, and that neither of these articles provided a complete roster of the riders in Peloton One for Saturday's ride. The Sports Illustrated article that Romulus pointed out does indeed provide another account of the ride as well as the names of most of the other journalists along for the ride (but not the State Department official and her husband).
The other journalists were Austin Murphy, author of the SI article; Steve Madden, Editor-in-Chief of Bicycling magazine (as of today, there is no mention of the ride on Bicycling's web site); and Ken Herman, Cox Newspapers, who also wrote a story about the ride (one that is just so stunningly different in scope and tenor than the others I've referenced here).
OK, I will admit that I was wrong in stating that their were only two original published accounts of this ride. There appear to be four separate, original articles about this ride. I will also admit that between them, the four separate articles provide the names of six journalists who participated in the ride (according to Bill Adair, there were seven journalists on the ride, so one is still unaccounted for).
But as mentioned, the scope and tenor of these two additional articles is just as flippant, superficial, and Bush-aggrandizing as Adair's and Ruibal's.
Right off the bat, Murphy starts in with the obligatory "Bush is the greatest" bullshit, admitting, "No matter your politics, you have to give our 43rd president props: The man has a big engine. The unofficial rule governing those who ride with the ex-governor: No one passes the president. Of course, the farther we went, the less of an issue that became. Most of the riders in our group weren't capable of hanging with the Chief, let alone passing him."
But as with Ruibal and Adair, his characterization of an unbeatable POTUS falls apart later in the article when he notes, "And then we were off, the president immediately jacking the pace up to about 20 mph despite a headwind . . . The roads being narrow, only one of us could ride next to the man . . . While logging my fair share of time at his side, chatting . . . I was careful not to monopolize him. Not all the journos in our group were as mindful. Two in particular (they know who they are) had no qualms about Bogarting the co-pilot's seat for 20 minutes at a time." OK, so explain to me how it is that nobody could keep up with the POTUS, yet Murphy describes at least three people (including himself) that not only rode next to the POTUS for long stretches, but were also sufficiently unwinded as to be able to chat with him as they rode alongside. Logic is such a pesky thing.
Murphy also made sure to throw in several "Bush is such a swell guy" tidbits as well. According to Murphy, his seat mate on the First Class flight down to Austin (uh, I'd like to know who paid for this First Class fare, Sports Illustrated or the American taxpayers), George Stephanopoulos, confided to him that "No matter your politics, . . . Bush is so amiable, so genuine, such good company, that you end up enjoying yourself with him, whether you intended to or not." Gosh, and those glowing words from a Democrat of all people. Murphy continues his gushing, "I'd heard the president was supremely fit (he is) and easy to get along with. That also was true. What I didn't expect was the number of belly laughs we had with him." Oh really, you didn't expect an overgrown frat boy? What rock have you been living under the last five years?
Juicy morsels in Herman's coverage include playful banter about Bush being the most physically fit president ever, a comparison of Dubya to George Washington, and a yuk-yuk, wink-wink analogy of Bush's riding style to his foreign policy -- yyy-eah! that's what I've been saying, only with world affairs being what they are, I don't quite find the foreign policy analogy as endearing and giggly as Mr. Herman does.
Helping to bolster my conspiracy theory regarding this ride, Murphy notes how he received an urgent call from Jeanie Mamo, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Media Affairs. Why an urgent call? Why did a key member of Bush's PR team feel it urgent to get a few reporters down to his ranch for some towel-snappin', good ole' boy, bike-ridin' fun? Could it be because the White House had a special agenda for this ride? To distract attention away from the Cindy Sheehan circus and pump up Bush's likability ratings? You're damn right it was. And willingly or unwillingly, the Main Stream Media (MSM) ended up carrying the Administration's water, . . . AGAIN!
Murphy further makes my point for me, "Something in Jeanie's tone told me she wasn't accustomed to not getting her calls returned. Swearing me to secrecy, when I called back, she invited me to fly down to Texas and go for a spin with the leader of the free world." Again, why the need for secrecy? Wasn't this just a simple bike ride with no ulterior motives or hidden agendas? Isn't that how all the writers portrayed it? Yeah, sure it was.
Fortunately, at least one credible media outlet provided a non-biased report on Bush's ride today with Lance.
And, oh yeah, in addition to his new clipless pedals and hip Pearl Izumi button-up jersey, Dubya was sporting a pretty goofy looking 'do rag under his helmet. Well, it was either a 'do rag or the starter qutrah Prince Abdullah gave him in remembrance of their special time together.
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