Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The sound of one hand clapping

The narrative is, indeed, changing. Over the weekend, we had this:

RICH: We know from Howie’s report that the White House did not ask them to step down from the story the way they asked the other two papers. They thought it was fine if it’s in the "Wall Street Journal".

FRUM: I think it’s pretty clear you guys got it first. And the other papers would have deferred to your leadership. I mean, the "Times" does…

RICH: You really think that our competitors would have deferred to what we did?

FRUM: I think what you have here is you have government officials, both active and retired Democrats, going to papers saying, "This is a huge secret. Please do not publish this in the national interest." Then there’s a kind of moral dilemma.
But the grammar of the story, as I see it reported, suggests that information came to the "Times" first. If they had gone to the other two papers and said, we went to the "Times" and they agreed that this would be putting the nation’s safety and security at risk, that would have been…

RICH: As far as I know that — as far as I know, everything you just said is fictional. I’ve seen nowhere that the "Times" necessarily had it first. I got the feeling that news organizations were going neck and neck. What’s your source for that? What’s your source for it?

FRUM: I got — I got — that’s not what I said. I said when I read the grammar in the story…

RICH: What do you mean, read the grammar? Is it code, holding it up to the light with lemon juice?
"Frum" is David Frum, who I know mostly from commentaries on NPR a few years ago. "Rich" is Frank Rich, injecting more than a bit of reality into what is customarily a reality-challenged atmosphere. Frum's response to that challenge, by the way? "Frank, that's cute."

Game, set, match: Rich. When all they can do is make up terms like "the grammar of the story," they've got less than zero to work with.

And then, on All Things Considered, we had this. Listen to it. Listen to George Lakoff steal the rhetorical ball from Frank Luntz and proceed to play "keep away" with it as Luntz whines that it's his ball, and he wants it back. Listen to Lakoff not only agree with Michele Norris that it's all about who frames the debate, but listen to him re-frame the debate even as Luntz cries that "it's not fair!" and tries to out meta-Lakoff by pointint out just how effective Lakoff's control of the message is.

It's beautiful, I tell you; absolutely beautiful. Too early to tell Karl to turn out the lights; but I think the fat lady is warming up in the wings.

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