There on public television the other night was the deputy managing editor of The Washington Times, a right-wing journal owned by the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon. He came out in the midst of a discussion of the ills of campaign financing and announced he didn’t believe that ’all politicians are corrupt and respond only to campaign contributors.’
There on public television the other night was the deputy managing
editor of The Washington Times, a right-wing journal owned by the
Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon. He came out in the midst of a
discussion of the ills of campaign financing and announced he didn’t
believe that ’all politicians are corrupt and respond only to campaign
It was a statement not often heard here. One expected the ring of his
cell phone - his managing editor telling him to be sure and add the
words, ’except for the liberals.’ The idea is indeed rare - that elected
officials speak their own minds without heed of big contributors or the
winds of political fashion - or even that they speak their own words and
not those of some hired wordsmith.
The notion that all of government and politics is scripted and responds
exclusively to special interests is so widespread now that no article on
the presidential campaign is complete without a cynical headline.
For example, it’s ’Gore Seeks Support of Elderly Voters,’ never ’Gore
Urges Subsidy for Prescription Drugs Under Medicare’; or ’Bush Courts
African-American Voters,’ never ’Bush Pledges Government Enforcement of
Civil Rights Laws.’
All of this assures the job security of PR counselors in this city. Each
member of Congress has at least one press secretary, and some have even
changed the title to the more impressive (and pompous) ’director of
communications.’ In addition, there is at least one in every executive
department, agency or bureau.
The job of government PR practitioners is increasingly non-communicative
and almost uninformative. ’Stay away from controversy or taking a stand’
seems to be the prevailing command, coming from bosses who almost never
enter a project unless the outcome itself has been predetermined.
But that makes the current (as I write) Israeli-Palestinian talks so
interesting and suspenseful. It seems clear this is international
negotiation and not - as it often is - an elaborate, pre-arranged
photo-op. No hints, no rumors, no informed speculation. One ’well-placed
source’ the other day, reasoned that because there was no news,
negotiations were probably proceeding seriously.
So far, we don’t even know the agenda at Camp David. The status of
The outlines of a Palestinian state? Responsibility for law enforcement
on the West Bank? No ’spokesman’ has emerged to claim credit or cast
blame, to hint at agreement or dash cold water on optimism. Not even a
State Department statement about a ’broad range of issues of mutual
concern.’ Now that’s a setback for PR - but maybe a giant leap for