E.J. Dionne, a columnist for the Washington Post, tells Brooke that the press is getting slammed for a negativity that’s really coming from another direction.
Who’s Side is the Media on? - The Saints’?
November 10, 2001
BROOKE GLADSTONE: E.J. Dionne is a columnist for the Washington Post. He says the press is getting slammed for negativity that's really coming from another direction!
E.J. DIONNE:Well actually I think that the toughest attacks on the administration do not come from the press at all. They come from hawkish critics, many of them political conservatives who are sympathetic to President Bush on other matters.
In terms of the press, I think the press primarily has been responding to kind of contradictory statements that have come out of the government. In earlier weeks we were told that we had eviscerated the Taliban's capacity to wage war, and then a couple of weeks later spokesmen tell us that they're really tough and they're very difficult adversaries.
And so I think it was not at all surprising that the press and for that matter the put asked who's on first - what is really going on here?
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Well, if that's the case, that it's the policy people and not the press that are truly impatient with and most critical of the war, why have the president and secretary Rumsfeld gone after the media?
E.J. DIONNE: Cause it's much easier to go after the media than to go after other critics, especially people who are in many cases in your own party and have supported you on other issues. I don't think anybody ever lost money or votes criticizing journalists.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Well do you think that the negative headlines and the doubt-filled questions are an effort by the press to goad the Pentagon into providing more information?
E.J. DIONNE: I'm not sure that's true. I think that these headlines grow out of the Pentagon kind of over-selling and then having to unsell some of the things they said earlier, and some of these headlines simply reflect the facts on the ground. There were at least some things coming out of the Pentagon that led us to believe that there might be quicker victories on the ground -- that the Northern Alliance might be stronger on the ground than it turned out to be or that our bombing was having more effect than it may have had.
Now I think the, the proof in the pudding is that the administration really changed its policy over the last week -- it really stepped up the bombing. Now if you talk to some people in the administration they'll say that was our plan all along and we did this gradually, and maybe that's true. But if you look at the - what, what has actually happened, they themselves seem to have altered the policy a bit, and so maybe there has been internal criticism of the policy as well.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Well E.J. Dionne, thank you very much!
E.J. DIONNE: Good to be with you!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: E.J. Dionne is a columnist for the Washington Post and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. [MUSIC]