Monday, March 08, 2004

BUSH'S 9/11 COMMERCIAL. Uncharacteristically, Media Log has been unable to muster any outrage over George W. Bush's use of 9/11 imagery in his first round of TV commercials. I'll read something from someone who thinks it's no big deal - like John Ellis - and find myself agreeing with him. Then I'll read something on the other side, and end up agreeing with that, too.

The ad is titled "Safer, Stronger," and you can watch it at the Bush-Cheney '04 website. As far as I can tell, the only objectionable part is a very short scene - so short you'll miss it if you blink - of a flag-draped stretcher being carried out of the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Watch it and decide for yourself.

From my perspective, Bush's one shining moment lasted from his megaphone-wielding appearance at Ground Zero through the first rumblings of the war-to-come in Iraq. During that period, he provided strong leadership and did a good job of prosecuting the war in Afghanistan. He's got every right to talk about his performance during those critical days. Indeed, when you look at the rest of his sorry record, it's the only thing he's got to talk about.

Since I don't find the ad morally repulsive, I guess what I'm left with is the tactical stupidity of including that one image. Check this out, from Friday's Boston Globe:

In deciding to include the Sept. 11 images, Bush advisers said they made a calculated risk and expected some family members and Democrats to complain regardless of how sensitively they handled the subject. The only other alternative, they argued, would have been to ignore the terrorist attacks altogether - an unacceptable option eight months before the election.

Sorry, but that's ridiculous. I think if the campaign had made one change - substituting that image of Bush at Ground Zero for the flag-draped stretcher - then there would have been little or no complaining. The bottom line is that Bush doesn't want the 9/11 families out there denouncing him. By pushing the imagery just a bit too far, he turned what should have been a positive for him into a negative.

PULITZER TIME. The Boston Globe is up for two Pulitzer Prizes, according to a list that leaked to Editor & Publisher (via Romenesko). Ellen Barry, now covering the South for the Los Angeles Times, is a finalist in beat reporting for her coverage of mental-health issues.

Patricia Wen is up for the feature-writing award for "Barbara's Story," the tale of a dysfunctional single mother who is persuaded to place her two sons in foster care. (And by the way, I know the Pulitzers don't work this way, but Suzanne Kreiter's photos are just as important to the story as Wen's writing.)

CORRECTION OF THE WEEK. And it's only Monday! This appeared in Sunday's New York Times:

An article in Arts & Leisure on May 4, 1997, about Pat Boone's venture into heavy-metal music omitted attribution for a critic who said Mr. Boone's album "Pat Boone in a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy" was "an affront to everybody who would consider heavy metal a serious musical form." The comment, from Andy Secher, editor of Hit Parader magazine, appeared in the March 31, 1997, issue of Insight magazine. A request for an acknowledgment went astray at The Times and was renewed last week by the writer of the Insight article, John Berlau.

Not quite seven years, but better late than never.

IT'S OFFICIAL: BARNICLE'S BACK. The Boston Herald today announces that Mike Barnicle will write a twice-weekly column beginning tomorrow. Publisher Pat Purcell says, "It's not every day that you have an opportunity to hire a newspaper legend."

Actually, the Herald could have hired Barnicle any time during the past five-plus years. It's just that, until now, the paper's standards were too high.

The move was first reported by Media Log on Friday.

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