After 'My Life,' A Payback Backlash
Says Safire: "He's entitled to a few pops. As I see it, every knock is a boost."
Is That Loaded?
Joe Trippi, the charismatic and headstrong strategist who managed Howard Dean's campaign, knows something about wrestling with the media beast. In a forthcoming book called "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," he describes the press this way:
"The telephone is a .357 magnum and every time you answer it and there's a reporter on the other end, what you're really doing is putting that gun to your head. Sure, most of the chambers are empty, but there's always at least one hollow-point in there, sometimes more. Every time you talk to a reporter, there is the potential that you'll blow your brains out. The higher your guy is in the polls, the more live rounds in the gun. . . .
"In our case . . . Howard's once-charming insistence on speaking his mind . . . became the very bullets that we had to duck every day."
Trippi also examines the candidate's reluctance to have his wife, Judith Steinberg Dean, actively campaign: "Here was the most loving, real family I'd ever seen in politics -- behaving the way people should behave -- and the press wanted to know what was wrong with them. Reporters were so used to candidates' Stepford families and that packaged, posed campaign domesticity that they missed the real thing when it was right in front of them."
Another reason Trippi liked Dean's physician wife: She diagnosed his diabetes, which he was keeping hidden from the campaign, and apparently never told her husband.
For three straight days last week, the lead story in the Early Bird, the Pentagon's compilation of the day's news, was journalistic screw-ups.
Defense reporters say the press office, which has been accused of politicizing the Early Bird, was trying to stick it to them by dramatically highlighting corrections in USA Today, the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times. Friday's lead item: Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita's letter of complaint to USA Today.
"Many times people in the department see the story that was wrong but don't get a chance to see the correction," DiRita says. "We've tried to pay close attention to the accuracy of reporting, and when news organizations make a correction we think it's important for readers of the Early Bird to have an opportunity to see the corrected information."
Miami Herald Executive Editor Tom Fiedler fired critic Octavio Roca last week for plagiarizing more than a half-dozen stories from the San Francisco Chronicle.
The twist: Roca wrote the earlier features himself when he was at the Chronicle.
Fiedler says Roca rationalized this "self-plagiarism," first disclosed by Miami New Times, by saying "he looked at this as his work. He said he saw recycling as no different from a college professor who delivers the same lectures to different classes repeatedly." A better analogy, says Fiedler, would be a student who flunks for passing off the same term paper in different classes. Roca could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the Macon, Ga., Telegraph last week accepted the resignation of entertainment reporter Greg Fields over a story on the circus. Turns out part of the report came from a Ringling Bros. Web site and was falsely attributed to a circus spokesman. Fields has said his "mistake" was not plagiarism.
The Fields embarrassment, which included three other questionable stories, comes four months after a Telegraph reporter was fired for plagiarizing more than 20 stories.
Swing and a Whiff
While Peter Jennings and Dan Rather were showing pictures of Saddam Hussein in court Thursday morning, NBC's "Today" showed Katie Couric playing badminton with a U.S. Olympic athlete, in advance of the network's coverage of the Summer Games.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Phone control needed? Former Howard Dean adviser Joe Trippi, shown in 2003, says that for a political operative, the phone is as dangerous as a gun.
(Evan Vucci -- AP)
_____More Media Notes_____
Phoneless Reporters Can't Make the Call (The Washington Post, Jun 29, 2004)
Hear No Lichtblau, See No Lichtblau (The Washington Post, Jun 28, 2004)
Post Editor Explains Decision to Publish Expletive (The Washington Post, Jun 26, 2004)
Bill Clinton's Aura: Still at the Cleaners (The Washington Post, Jun 21, 2004)
New Republic Editors 'Regret' Their Support of Iraq War (The Washington Post, Jun 19, 2004)