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Where Did the Media Get the Tape From?

By now, you’ve seen the video where Bush says, "I want to assure the folks at the state level that we are fully prepared to not only help you during the storm, but we will move in whatever resources and assets we have at our disposal after the storm."

Questions:

…Where did this tape come from?

…How did the media get it?

…Why are we just now seeing it?

…Was it obtained illegally?

…Does anyone care?

This latest incident makes me wonder if it’s possible (in the modern era) to make it through eight years unscathed.

I think the answer is "no."

In case you’ve been asleep for the last year, here’s basically how the news cycle has gone…We put out a fire, another one starts. …Shaheen, Katrina, Meirs, Plame, Cheney, Ports, Katrina again, Iraq.

Who’s to blame?

Of course, these stories are partially just a product of the modern media’s need for more stories to report on. The modern media, such as cable TV and the internet, has, in many ways, been good to America. But there is a case to be made that the modern media, which is by driven by conflict and the constant need for new material, has hurt us, too.

What are the larger implications?

The fact that this tape has surfaced so many months after the incident makes me think of how technology, in general, is changing things.

If you agree with me that Nixon should have burned the tapes, then just imagine how much they would have on him today. Never mind impeachment, they would have tried to execute him.

Email certainly isn’t private (as both Brownie and Jack Abramoff have recently found out). And how often are you and I being videotaped?

I predict future campaigns (of all shapes and sizes) will see the resurfacing of emails that were sent years ago.

We’ve all got a long paper trail, or should I say, "Electronic trail."

Already consumer information is being used by political marketers to do what’s called micro-targeting. In the future, consumer information may be used for negative campaigning. Have you ever accidentally visited a questionable website? Have you ever bought a book on your credit card that might not look good to the public in twenty years? Maybe you bought Mein Kampf for a history class — how’s that going to look in the 2024 primary election?

For those of us paying attention, it is important to note that what we’re seeing on TV right now is merely a "snapshot" of reality.

Here’s what I mean:

If you were to follow me around all day and take thousands of snapshots of me, many of them would make me look bad. I would be blinking in some pictures, eating in some pictures, etc. If all you saw from my day today were the bad pictures, then that’s how you would base your opinion of me.

Well, when we see selected clips of Bush, we are getting a skewed picture of him. The problem is, to the average viewer, seeing is believing. It doesn’t matter that it was taken out of context.

Let’s be honest. Howard Dean got a raw deal in that "I have a scream" speech, too. But all we saw on TV for days on end was the replaying of the worst 10 seconds of his campaign. But have you seen the recording with the volume not enhanced? The truth is, if you were in the room with Dean, it didn’t seem that bad. But did the truth matter? No. Not to the people who saw the clip over and over and over.

Sure, the Bush team could have handled some of this stuff better. For one, they could have responded to Katrina and the Cheney story faster.

But the constant trickle of negative information, coupled with the realities of the modern media, makes me wonder:

Is this is just the way it goes in modern politics?

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Written By

Mr. Lewis has managed political campaigns and served as director of grassroots for the Leadership Institute, as well as political director for GOPAC. In 2002, Campaigns & Elections magazine selected him as a "Rising Star of Politics." He is the author of "Teaching Elephants to Talk." His blog can be read at MattLewis.org.

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