Monday, February 28, 2005

Vlad The Impaler

That I can be, in turn, castigated and humiliated on my own blog shows the extent to which Ahab’s is willing to go to encourage media freedom. So it amused me to read this:

George Bush knew Vladimir Putin would be defensive when Bush brought up the pace of democratic reform in Russia in their private meeting at the end of Bush's four-day, three-city tour of Europe. But when Bush talked about the Kremlin's crackdown on the media and explained that democracies require a free press, the Russian leader gave a rebuttal that left the President nonplussed. If the press was so free in the U.S., Putin asked, then why had those reporters at CBS lost their jobs? Bush was openmouthed. "Putin thought we'd fired Dan Rather," says a senior Administration official. "It was like something out of 1984."

Obviously, pretty ridiculous. I mean, Rather deserved to go with the rest of them, but even the most ardent conspiracy theorist cannot possibly believe that Bushco had a direct hand in firing those reporters. But then, the ironic piece de resistance:

Later, during the leaders' joint press conference, one of the questioners Putin called on asked Bush about the very same firings, a coincidence the White House assumed had been orchestrated.

Orchestrated? Like Bush’s famous March 6, 2003 press conference (check out the official transcript), which appeared to be scripted in advance? One of my biggest criticisms of the present administration is the lack of press access. Putin’s “don’t call me undemocratic” rhetoric would be much more effective if it cut out the conspiracy theories and drudged up the unbelievably hilarious truth.


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