The media’s interest in the strange and bizarre has been apparent in the coverage of the Democratic campaign for president. The Howard Dean “I have a scream” speech in Iowa was big news. The fascinating thing is that reporters who were actually at the event did not see it as such a crazy performance. They say that it was a very noisy crowd and that Dean had to yell to be heard. Columnist Russ Baker said, “It’s true that Dean yelled at his?rally in Iowa. And so what? Basically, at a pep rally, he yelled like a football coach. This is described as being ‘unpresidential.’ But says who?”
Who says? The media. Wesley Clark’s sweater, which went on sale at eBay, was another subject of attention. But it was Clark’s attire when he appeared on the cover of a homosexual magazine that didn’t get much comment, even though it was an obvious effort to appear sexy to the male homosexuals who buy the magazine. As Associated Press described it, “Clark wore a V-neck white T-shirt and an open black shirt, a switch from his sweaters or jacket-and-tie.” Tim Russert on Meet the Press, when he interviewed Clark, simply showed the cover and proceeded to ask Clark about his controversial stands on homosexual issues.
On the same program, columnist David Broder expressed amazement that Clark still had not disavowed film maker Michael Moore’s claim that President Bush was a “deserter” during the Vietnam War. In fact, Bush served in the National Guard. When Russert said that Moore is now claiming that he was only joking, Broder said that he was at the event and it was definitely not a joke.
On his website, Moore stands behind the remark, insisting that the Boston Globe had said it appeared that Bush ran out on his National Guard unit. The New York Times, which owns the Globe, did look into it, finding that Bush served during part of the time the Globe had him AWOL?and that Bush later made up whatever time he missed.
It’s curious that the media criticized Dean while treating Clark’s endorsement by rock star Madonna as a positive development for him. That was not the subject of any critical attention in the press. Clark’s website stated that, “Madonna gives her support to Wes Clark. The entertainer says she is endorsing Clark because she is concerned about her children’s future. She believes Clark is committed to ensuring that our country lives up to its promise and its people.” A Clark spokesman said that she will hold a fund-raiser at her Los Angeles residence for the retired general.
An Associated Press story about the endorsement described Madonna as “a mother of two,” as if she is an advocate of traditional family values. CNN described her as a “singer and children’s book author.” Those children’s books came later in life. News organizations didn’t mention that her pornographic “Sex” book, published in 1992, was full of obscene sexual poses with other men and women. One of her videos was so sleazy that the raunchy cable channel MTV wouldn’t run it. A video she produced last year opposing the Iraq war showed President Bush with a grenade in his lap. And yet the media consider her endorsement a plus for Wesley Clark.