INSIDE THE BELTWAY: Washington leaders run circles around its press corps, but it need not be that way

History will surely mark the Washington Generals as the outstanding team of the century in its class - perhaps the possessors of the best record in the millennium.

History will surely mark the Washington Generals as the outstanding team of the century in its class - perhaps the possessors of the best record in the millennium.

History will surely mark the Washington Generals as the outstanding

team of the century in its class - perhaps the possessors of the best

record in the millennium.



You see, the Generals have never won a game, and they have played

thousands over the past 50 years. In the course of setting that record

for futility, they have been seen by more fans than any other team.

Nevertheless, they are zero for the franchise.



The Generals, as basketball fans know, spend their time barnstorming

with the Harlem Globetrotters, who always beat them. Now the

Globetrotters’ specialty - unlike, say, that of Duke - is not winning,

but looking good while fooling around with the basketball. They do win,

but the fans come to see them dribble through an opponent’s legs or

bewilder their foes by spinning the ball on a fingertip.



It’s clear that the Globetrotters can’t play just anyone, because even a

mediocre player will steal the ball from an opponent’s fingertip and

attempt to score. Hence, the Generals are trained to stand so as to

accommodate the between-the-legs pass and dribble, and to freeze in mock

bewilderment at the other easily foiled tricks.



In the world of public relations and media relations, the closest

parallel to the Generals is the Washington press corps - they lose

regularly to the Establishment. It doesn’t matter which party is in

power - only that their power is secure, and the Washington leaders will

dribble around the media for easy baskets.



Let a powerful Congressional Committee come up with a dazzling story

about Chinese spies stealing atomic secrets from governments labs, and

the Washington press corps will tell us it’s true - even though there

seems to be no evidence to support the most minimal charges, no one has

been arrested and the FBI thinks no crime was committed. But that

doesn’t matter, the media gives the public what they want.



Months ago, we were fed a story from an FBI wiretap that the Chinese

government was spending money secretly for Democratic Senate

candidates.



Concerned, so the story went, that trade preferences would be stopped,

the Chinese were spending small amounts of money to support senators who

were already on their side. No questions like the following were asked:

Why would the Chinese do this? What Senators were targeted? Instead, the

Generals waved as the Globetrotters drove into the lane for an easy

basket.

So the next time an unlikely story comes our way, whether it’s a

’Patient’s Bill of Rights,’ a revolt of ’angry white males’ or ’the

campaign is over,’ think of the Washington Generals. They could probably

win if they tried.



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