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Politics and Economy:
John Ridley on the Post 9/11 Presidency

Everybody loves a winner. The case in point is our man in charge: George W. Now here's a guy who was the punchline to every late-night monologue before he even took the oath of office.

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John Ridley
John Ridley
on the Post 9/11 Presidency

And once he had, the press didn't know whether to spill more ink over his malapropisms or his lack of agenda. But that was before September 11th, before the American military did in Afghanistan in a month what the Soviet war machine failed to do in ten years. Now the President is surfing a tsunami of good will. With an approval rating that's topping eighty percent, it's as if the President can do no wrong.

At least, you'd think so according to the picture painted by the major media. While there's no sport in kicking a guy just to give him a kick, it's as if the Fourth Estate has done a one-eighty on the President. They may not exactly be his cheerleaders, but it is seems as though they're afraid to question his policies for fear of inciting his mass of adoring fans. According to a study done by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, during the war in Afghanistan, only one in ten stories done by magazines, televisions or newspapers, quoted anyone who was critical of the war effort. It's as though the press was afraid that any skepticism would make them seem soft for the other side.

Beyond the war, the administration's other policies - which lack a certain amount of sex appeal even in the best of times - gets curious little scrutiny in the media. There's hardly any talk of Bush pulling out of the ABM treaty with Russia, the billions of dollars he's going to spend on a missile defense system, no matter that our newest enemies like to attack us with our own airplanes. The President's proposed budget gets swallowed whole. The deficit that it'll probably ring up seems to go down easier when portrayed as being essential to helping protect American lives.

Now I'm not trying to imply that the press owes the President a pants-down spanking for everything that he says. But the party line I can get from the White House Press Secretary. When did it become un-American to ask tough questions and expect reasonable answers? What's the point of fighting for the values of a free press if nobody's willing to use it?

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