Our politics has seemingly evolved into side issues break-dancing around larger issues — witness a truly revealing story in the New York Times plus the-fuss-of-the-day starting on the Drudge Report, which ehoed on the radio talk shows.
THE REAL ISSUE AT HAND: President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney got questioned about 911 in a historic meeting before the 911 Commission. Even though the White House insisted the Prez and Veep's non-sworn testimony not be recorded, this literally involved life-and death issues: what happened in the days leading up to 911 and what should be fixed?
SIDE ISSUE ONE: THE NEWS STORY:: The NewYork Times' a had a story on the fact that reporters, cameramen and photographers weren't allowed into the Bush-Cheney-Commission meeting. As everyone knows, Bush and Cheney insisted on being together, sort of like the political Bobsy Twins. But there was a press and photo blackout.
So here was the lead on the Times piece:
- If an important meeting takes place in the Oval Office and there are no television cameras to record it, did the meeting matter?"
After noting how little time TV disdainfully devoted to it — NO PICTURES TO SEE — the Times said this:
- The White House's insistence on a private, no-tech meeting made political sense: the president's aides have no interest in allowing pictures that might make him look vulnerable under questioning or overly reliant on his older vice president. But the nonvisual event was so anathema to television that at one point, the CNN anchor Daryn Kagan said it seemed as if "the event took place in the 18th century."
So, folks, we have now definitely entered the age of Marshall McLuhan — where the medium is the message. If there aren't PICTURES TO SEE and there aren't TAPES WITH VOICES TO HEAR the event is irrelevant (well, I guess so; it was the same way at my bris).
True, reporters would have been (and are) trying to get tidbits out of commission members to reconstruct what was said because there was indeed content in those three hours. Our issue isn't with the Times report. It's with what you realize when you read it: that because there were NO PICTURES TO SEE, the event didn't matter.