Monday, September 19, 2005

A Free and Independent Media

How it's done:

Another Win for 'Friends & Allies'
When John G. Roberts is approved as chief justice of the United States, as expected, he can thank President Bush 's "Friends & Allies" program, which went to work on him immediately after he was nominated. The project, started by the Republican National Committee in the 2004 re-election campaign, is simple and effective: Give opinion makers, media friends, and even cocktail party hosts insider info on the topic of the day. How? Through E-mailed talking points, called D.C. Talkers, and conference calls. For Roberts, it worked this way: A daily conference call to about 80 pundits, GOP-leaning radio and TV hosts, and newsmakers was made around 9 a.m. On the other end were the main Roberts gunslingers like Steve Schmidt at the White House and Ken Mehlman and Brian Jones at the RNC. D.C. Talkers would then be distributed to an even larger list filled with positive info about Roberts and lines of attack on his critics. "The idea," said one of those involved, "is to feed them information and have them invested in us." It has even created addicts, he added. "Now they come to us before going on TV."

...Kurtz, yesterday: (tip thanks to P O'Neill):

KURTZ: The politicians don't talk about it very much. But does that let journalists off the hook? Since when do we take our talking points from the political class?

I know this depends on the definition of "reporter," but that distinction has been totally destroyed. Kurtz's "we" includes, presumably, the people who are guests on his show - Clarence Page (columnist), Newsweek contributing editor Ellis Cose, and talk show host Blanquita Cullum.