Believers in the "press war" sometimes cite radicalism of the AIPAC case, the BALCO investigation, FBI high-handedness in pursuing access to Jack Anderson's papers, and the jailing of videographer Josh Wolf as recent examples of the "chilling" assaults on our First Amendment freedoms that Bush and his bad attitude are responsible for. Now, it's true that the Bush administration hates the press and shouts it out frequently, that it tells lies, that it makes the lives of reporters as miserable as it can, that it plays propaganda games at every step, overclassifies, manufactures "phony news," and intimidates the press better than any administration since Nixon's.
But is it war? Hooey, I say. No government has ever loved the press, nor will any government ever love the press. Not even Bill "Love Hug" Clinton loved the press. Reporters, critics, and politicians who imagine the relationship any other way are dreaming.
Commentary's Gabriel Schoenfeld, who actually favors "a limited war against the press to keep vital counterterrorism operations secret from al Qaeda," finds the war metaphor a bunch of hooey, too.
"If the Bush administration was indeed waging such a war, they were waging it far more fecklessly even than they had been waging the war in Iraq," Schoenfeld writes in e-mail.
Maybe journalists should beam powerful waves of love at the president to bring him around. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. Om mani padme hum. … Send your chant to email@example.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)