Watch this short interview blogger Mike Stark did with David Broder, longtime political reporter and columnist for The Washington Post, this past week.
Note what Broder says around timestamp 1:00, when Stark graciously invites the dean of the Washington press corps to reflect on the work that won him the 1973 Pulitzer Prize. Broder says it was for his coverage of "really one of the worst campaigns in modern American history, the 1972 campaign between George McGovern and Richard Nixon. And I wrote a series of pieces about how what a travesty it was to have some people traveling around the United States trying to be president but not answering any questions from reporters or dealing with each other."
Check out that last sentence.
It's a small point but, I think, a revealing one. Broder is misleading the public here—almost to the point of slander. "Some people": does he seem to you to be referring to the two people running for president? He does to me. But one of those people, George McGovern, ran the one of the most open campaigns in modern history. He did indeed go into temporary bunker mode after the Democratic convention when his vice-presidential candidate, Thomas Eagleton, was revealed to have undergone electroshock treatment. But even there, the subsequent political trouble McGovern got into had to do with his loquaciousness with reporters, not his reticnce.
Broder goes on to specify how Nixon refused to debate McGovern or hold press conferences. You could could come away with the impression that Dean Broder just neglected to specify the McGovern part of the story so the interview could get on with his next question—that he's saying both sides were equally at fault, that he is showing what he means by using one side as an illustration. Listen again:
"Some people traveling around the United States trying to be president but not answering any question from reporters or dealing with each other."
"With each other": there it is in black and white. Both sides were to blame for the "travesty."
Richard Nixon ran the most secretive presidential campaign in national history—even making reporters sit in rooms far from the crowds and watch his events on closed-circuit TV. George McGovern made Nixon's secretiveness a major focus of his campaign—begging Nixon every day to debate him. And yet somehow Broder recollects a situation of equivalence. I think it shows how his mind works—and why our political press corps is so badly broken.
| Monday, June 11, 2007 11:02 AM