Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Speaking Truth to Teflon®

This is pure armchair musing.  There has been a lot of talk lately about the brazen performance by Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent's Dinner's a couple of days ago (YouTube video here).  

This got me to thinking, again, about the willingness of the media to print, broadcast, or otherwise acknowledge criticism of the President.  Back in the 1980's liberal persons were amazed by the "Teflon President," Ronald Reagan.  He did all kinds of terrible things, it seemed, and nothing ever stuck.  I am sure that conservatives thought the same about Clinton.  

During Bush 43's first term, the same thing seemed to be happening.  Abu Ghraib is perhaps the best example, but there are many.  More recently, things definitely have changed.

Joseph Lowery
Harry Taylor
Harry Reid
John Murtha
John Conyers
Cindy Sheehan
Stephen Colbert

I am sure there have been more, but those are the names that come to mind, of people whose criticisms of the President have been taken seriously by the media.

All of these persons have been outspoken in opposition to Mr. Bush and his policies.  I have not done any real research into this, other than just thinking about it, but it seems to me that the first person on that list to get any respect in the media was Cindy Sheehan.  Once the media covered her and her story, it became acceptable for the media in the USA to report on criticisms of the President.

It strikes me that this is a significant development.  I would like to understand more about what happened to crack the Teflon coating of the Presidency.   I know it was not just Sheehan who caused this.  The Downing Street Memo, Katrina, and the indictment of Scooter Libby all caused spikes in the mention of the word "impeachment," according to Blogpulse.  Unfortunately, their system only allows tracking back for six months, so right now the only spike you can see is the one caused by the Libby indictment; but I have been following this.  Since then, there has been a steady simmer, but no big spike.  Still, it is clear that it now is acceptable for the media to report on criticism of the President.   Something has changed.  The Teflon is gone.

Perhaps some historian will be able to go back someday, and look at the blogs, and the data collected by services such as Blogpulse and Technorati, and figure out exactly what happened to scrub away the Teflon.