What was he thinking?

Jay Rosen writes regularly about the Bush administration’s successful efforts to disenfranchise the news media. I find the story conversation fascinating and have followed it closely. Reagan may have started the ball rolling by talking “past” the filters and speaking directly to the people, but Bush’s people seem to have raised it to an artform. Call it smart politics or call it manipulation, it doesn’t matter. The President’s handlers have been very successful at controlling the message.

In so doing, they’ve also been very good at generally staying on target with the majority of Americans.

That’s why last night’s press conference was so odd. To pre-empt sweeps programming on the first night of the book was an extraordinary blunder, because it pissed off the very people he was trying to reach. What was he thinking? The discussion in my home was likely duplicated a million times throughout the land. The guy had nothing to say, and what he did have to say belonged on the news networks, not the entertainment networks.

While we’ll doubtless read commentaries about the broadcast networks interrupting programming for this (or dumping out early), the real story is a strategic blunder by the White House. The May book is about as good as it gets for network programs, and the viewers know it. Mess with that, and you’ve messed with them.

Let’s see, what would I rather watch: Bush on Social Security or Stephanie get booted on Survivor? Bush, Stephanie? Bush, Stephanie?

Like I said, what was he thinking?

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