May 1 a good day to recall the media's supine role in 'Mission Accomplished':
Mitt Romney's and Sen. John McCain's and other Republicans' efforts to paint the demise of Osama bin Laden as something any president would have done is calculated to maintain the GOP fiction that Barack Obama—and, of course, Democrats in general—are wimps on national security. On this first anniversary of the special operation that took out Osama, that anybody-would-have-done-it theme no doubt has another purpose as well: keeping people's attention off the ninth anniversary of George W. Bush's propaganda gala aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln behind a Mission Accomplished banner.
Enough has been said over the years about Commander Codpiece's imitation-gloriooooous hero role that day. But what of the role of the press? How much did it swallow on mission accomplished day? Media Matters cranked up its time machine to find out. Here, on May 1, 2003, is Chris Matthews, a fellow who still has a big-time gig supposedly telling it like it is to viewers:
Do you think this role, and I want to talk politically [...], the president deserves everything he's doing tonight in terms of his leadership. He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics. Do you think he is defining the office of the presidency, at least for this time, as basically that of commander in chief? That [...] if you're going to run against him, you'd better be ready to take [that] away from him.Ready for a shower? As a guest, Matthews had Ann Coulter on. What she said could, of course, have been anticipated:
COULTER: It's stunning. It's amazing. I think it's huge. I mean, he's landing on a boat at 150 miles per hour. It's tremendous. It's hard to imagine any Democrat being able to do that. And it doesn't matter if Democrats try to ridicule it. It's stunning, and it speaks for itself.Did Matthews interrupt the way he usually does and call anything she said into question? Not a whisper of objection.
But it wasn't just Matthews polishing the president's ... uh ... whatever that day.
Wolf Blitzer at CNN praised Bush's experience as a jet fighter pilot. Non-existent experience, since to be a fighter pilot, one must have actually fought and Bush ...uh ... opted out of that opportunity. Brian Williams, then of CNBC, also called Bush a former fighter pilot who looked "full of energy in a flight suit." Fox News's Greta van Susteren sang the fighter pilot's praises as well.
On the "Face the Nation," Joe Klein said:
Well, that was probably the coolest presidential image since Bill Pullman played the jet fighter pilot in the movie Independence Day. That was the first thing that came to mind for me. And it just shows you how high a mountain these Democrats are going to have to climb.And the print media did their part. David Sanger at The New York Times wrote:
Mr. Bush was clearly reliving his days as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, more than three decades ago. "I miss flying, I can tell you that," he told reporters who bumped into him as he moved around the ship.Two stunning performances that day, nine years ago. George W. Bush pretending to be something he was not. And the media, supposedly the nation's watchdog, doing the same.