Katharine Q. Seelye , writing in the New York Times, blames the "theater of the absurd" that is the modern White House press briefing not on spokesman Scott McClellan's refusal to give a direct answer to even the simplest question -- but on the fact that the briefings are televised. And, oh yes, on the troubled, preening reporters who make up the White House press corps.I call it battered idiot syndrome.
Seelye writes: "By its nature, the relationship between the White House and the press has historically held an inherent tension. And many say it has been eroding since the Vietnam War and Watergate, when reporters had reason to distrust everything the White House said and made a scandalous 'gate' out of every murky act.
"But today, those on both sides say, the relationship has deteriorated further, exacerbated by the live briefings."
There's a brief defense of the craft: " 'This is the punching-bag beat of American journalism,' said David E. Sanger, who has covered the Bush administration since its inception for The New York Times. 'And the White House itself has been skillful at diverting tough questions by changing the subject to its battles with the media.' "
And, astonishingly enough, Seelye puts forth a psychological explanation for all this.
"Renana Brooks, a clinical psychologist practicing in Washington who said she had counseled several White House correspondents, said the past few years had given rise to 'White House reporter syndrome,' in which competitive high achievers feel restricted and controlled and become emotionally isolated from others who are not steeped in the same experience.
"She said the syndrome was evident in the Cheney case, which she described as an inconsequential event that produced an outsize feeding frenzy. She said some reporters used the occasion to compensate for not having pressed harder before the Iraq war.
" 'It's like any post-traumatic stress,' she said, 'like when someone dies and you think you could have saved them.' "
I'm a very lucky person with every allergy known to man but still happy to be enjoying a wonderful life living in the best place in the world!