Thursday, February 16, 2006

Shotgun Gate

If you are wondering why the White House Press Corps has turned itself into such a seething pool of molten rage over the Vice President allowing the ranch owner to notify a local paper of his hunting accident here is the likely reason.

There is precisely one thing which sets these people (who are, for the most part, utterly mediocre) apart and justifies their high salaries and newspaper column inches and TV face time. That thing is the fact that they are the conduit through which the administration in power communicates with the American public. They depend completely on the fact that the White House is willing to talk to them. Before the rise of the new media these men and women held a great deal of power to shape the public's perception of the administration. This power gave them a great deal of license in how they approached any president and his staff. Dan Rather's famous confrontation with Nixon comes to mind as well as almost any exchange between uber hag Helen Thomas and any Republican president. They could be contemptuous and disrespectful and the White House had to take it because the only picture of the president and his performance in office that the average American got was what the mainstream media chose to show him.

This is changing. The internet, talk radio and FOX News provide an alternate conduit through which the American people can access the news. The horrible sin that the Vice President committed was in allowing someone not connected with his or the President's press office inform a local newspaper of his accident. This bypassed the White House Press Corps, in fact it bypassed the entire Beltway media establishment. Like dinosaurs looking upward and seeing that light in the sky grow bigger and brighter every night or buggy whip manufacturers watching the first Model T roll off Henry Ford's assembly line the first faint whiff of their own extinction must be tickling their nostrils.

The fact that the American people could care less that the VP did an end run around them and that the accident itself, which in the old days could have been spun into a major scandal, is being greeted by a giant yawn have brought home the fact like nothing else could that the Old Media is living on borrowed time. When you shatter peoples self serving illusions they will hate you for it.