INSIDE THE BELTWAY: Alas! Political reporters are concerned with trivialities instead of focusing on key issues

Just when you thought it would be safe to start reading the papers again, and start watching the television news - for information, that is - along came two developments to make us wonder if the media will respect us in the morning, or if we are just objects.

Just when you thought it would be safe to start reading the papers again, and start watching the television news - for information, that is - along came two developments to make us wonder if the media will respect us in the morning, or if we are just objects.

Just when you thought it would be safe to start reading the papers

again, and start watching the television news - for information, that is

- along came two developments to make us wonder if the media will

respect us in the morning, or if we are just objects.



First of all, two ’news’ stories: a five or six-day play given to the

hiring by the Gore campaign of a lady named Naomi Wolf. It turned out

she was being paid dollars 15,000 a month to give advice and counsel to

the vice president on matters of concern, mostly in the area of ’women’s

issues.’ High-priced, but so far so good. Then, it appeared the advice

included tips on colors for suits, shirts and ties.



Worse, it developed that she had written some ’controversial’ ideas

about boys’ and girls’ sex education. Worse still, somebody (not she)

said she wanted to turn Gore from a beta male to an alpha male (i.e.,

from Alan Alda to Jesse Ventura).



Simultaneously, a smart-aleck reporter in Boston ambushed Gov. George W.

Bush and asked him for the names of the leaders of four political units

- Chechnya, Taiwan, Pakistan and India. George W. knew the last name of

one (Lee) and the title of another (General), but nothing else. You

would have thought he had said that Hitler was not such a bad guy - so

that got chewed over for several days.



It turned out Ms. Wolf had her pay cut by two-thirds and she had never

given the vice president advice about sex education or earth tones, and

whether he was alpha or beta had not crossed her (or his) mind.



Then we learned what we secretly knew all the time - nobody else could

identify those leaders, even the experts (Chechnya, for God’s sake!) and

anyway, we’re looking for a president, not a Jeopardy contestant -

’Obscure, rebellious Russian provincial leaders for dollars 200,

Alex.’



What all this shows, alas, is that our political correspondents, still -

with real elections only four months away - are far more concerned with

trivia and dross than with real things. Did anyone ask Ms. Wolf about

late-term abortion, or about how to achieve equal pay? Did the reporter

ask George W. what he thought should be our response to human rights

violations in Pakistan, or impending slaughter in Chechnya? But then,

the other event came along to distract us - as usual, a movie. The

Insider, with fine performances by Al Pacino and Russell Crowe, asks the

millennial question: ’Should a network have the power to pull (or push)

a news story because it fears a lawsuit?’ Walter Cronkite answered that

one years ago: ’It’s their candy store.’



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