Standing up and falling down (on job)

“As Cheney stands up, his polling goes down” is the clever, provocative head to a page-one Chi Trib story 11/24/05, Thanksgiving Day.  Mark Silva and Stephen J. Hedges almost-lead (third ‘graph-sentence} with their interview with Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, billing him as among “early proponents of the Iraq invasion” who now question Cheney’s “stern, unbending activism” on behalf of administration policy, which activism was “once seen as an advantage.”

But they write, and their editors go along with it, as if most readers won’t know about Wilkerson as recent slam-bang critic of Iraq policy.  They quote him as tough-talkingly placing Cheney among a “cabal ‘of extreme nationalistic . . . and messianic’” war proponents.  It’s not new that Wilkerson feels this way.  He uses “cabal” in his 10/25/05 LA Times op-ed.  Nor does his criticism have anything to do with Cheney’s no longer being an advantage to Bush, as Silva-Hedges clumsily aver.  They interviewed Wilkerson — we assume since his 10/19/05 speech at the New America Foundation — teasing out of him some quotes they can claim as Chi Trib’s, making no mention of either speech or op-ed.  Why not?

Any Washington Post reader http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/19/AR2005101902246.html might know about the speech.  But Silva and Hedges and editors package Wilkerson as page-one stuff in a piece citing “early proponents of the Iraq invasion” — standard gotcha stuff, by the way.

They got this and more out of Wilkerson, but nothing out of Cheney or his aides, which is not surprising.  But “a senior administration official” said Cheney will continue his activism.  This is apparently Alan Simpson, identified as “a former Republican senator from Wyoming” but not as current official; if he’s anything current, besides a Harvard chair-holder, he’s co-chairman of the Continuity in Government Commission [sic].  Apparently, because without connecting word or phrase, Simpson’s comment follows immediately.  Silva and Hedges must have been heading home for the holiday, and nobody reads the paper Thanksgiving anyway, so they and the editors dished this one up. 

There’s more to the story, but one does tire when ease of reading and credibility limp so.  Does this sort of thing have anything to do with declining newspaper circulation?

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