Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Is Cheney's shot the new Dean 'scream'?

Richard B. Simon left a great analysis of what the media/blog/everyone frenzy is all about in regards to the Cheney hunting party shooting, on a thread at Press Think.

Here's excerpts:

I read Michelle Malkin's column about this, and was struck when she bemoaned that this event would eclipse the rest of Cheney's service to his country.

It made me think of Howard Dean, and understand what happened to him a bit better. I've never understood why the caricature of Dean was so different from what I know about his actual record as a Governor.

I never quite understood why the "Dean scream" became his defining moment.

Yesterday, I thought about -- I think it was Matt Taibbi, who I saw recounting his time on the road during campaign '04, speaking about how the Press Corps sort of has a sense of a candidate and pokes and pokes until they know whether or not their sense of that candidate is accurate. They poked and poked Dean to find out whether he was as "prickly" as the caricature -- and they found that he was.

So "the scream" became a really handy metaphor -- synechdoche really -- for this public persona as a wildman.

In the same way, I see this happening with Cheney in the press.


Taken by itself, this event is minor, and clearly an accident. But it has become a metaphor -- an instant metaphor -- and an apt metaphor for so much of how this White House does business. That's why we all knew that the night comedians would have a field day. Humor traffics in metaphor and analogy. It is Iraq and it is secrecy. It is aiming at Bin Ladin but hitting Saddam instead. And as far as the press is concerned, it is the unwillingness to engage.

Although I snagged most of his comment, the rest of it is also worth reading. Here's a link to the Jay Rosen article that it was left at (Simon's was an off-topic comment...the post is about "a new spin-off site called Blue Plate Special, written by students in [Rosen's] blogging 101 class, plus others we may drag in.").

Howard Dean later said that the scream "never happened" and that it was an example of how the mainstream media had become "Murdochized."

Dean told a crowd of broadcasters in Washington Monday morning that all the cable networks showed of the speech following his loss in Iowa was "me at a microphone carrying on. No crowd noise or crowd shot," that would have shown that the crowd was screaming and Dean was trying to make himself heard. None of the pool reporters reported the scream initially, he said. It was only the next day, when their editors saw it, with the noise-canceling mike making Dean stand out, that it became a story. "The speech as it was portrayed in cable television shows 937 times in one week "never happened," he said.

But like the line from the classic John Ford revisionist western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

But, unfortunately, for the Vice President (and especially unfortunately for Harry Whittington and his family), the facts surrounding this incident have already become legendary.

Richard B. Simon has his own blog: SCORP10N BOWL.

And I have an article at Raw Story about the MSNBC "scrubbing" of a reference to alcohol served at the Anderson Ranch, and the bloggers who spotted it: 'Beer quote' pulled from MSNBC Cheney hunting party article.


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