Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Frustration Thread 

1972 :
Somehow the Watergate and other disclosures failed to rub off on the Nixon administration in its reelection drive. The President studiously ignored McGovern's remarks alleging venality --the Senator [McGovern] charged that the administration was "the most corrupt in history" -- and kept the news media at a distance, thus preventing questioning, as he appeared at "non-political" occasions against such television backdrops as the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall. At formal dinners newsmen were privileged to listen to him in another room, on closed-circuit television.

McGovern found himself in effect campaigning against himself, defending himself against previous statements or positions, while Nixon, who had made truly major reversals in his thinking, was accepted as a pragmatist. McGovern's principal issue, the Vietnam War, was defused by Kissinger's negotiations with the North Vietnamese and the continuing expectation of a cease-fire.

Since the President was holding himself above politics, the news media turned their camera eyes on McGovern and the opposition to him within his own party. Sizable blocs of Democratic voters were in the process of defection from the "wild radicals" in control; John Connally, the former Governor of Texas and former Secretary of the Treasury in the Republican administration, had formed "Democrats for Nixon"; organized labor was split as the result of George Meany's professed "neutrality," and various elements and personalities were in constant conflict behind the scenes of McGovern's campaign apparatus. Such news coverage, with its thoroughly negative yield for McGovern, amounted to a partiality previously unknown in modern political campaigns. On the nation's editorial pages, moreover, Nixon was supported by 753 or the 1,054 daily newspapers, representing 77.4 percent of the total circulation, and McGovern by only 56 dailies with a mere 7.7 percent of the circulation.

This overwhelming press support was given despite the Nixon administration's patent threat to the First Amendment,...

[The Wound Within; America in the Vietnam Years 1945-1974, by Alexander Kendrick; page 373; published 1974]

Sounds too familiar doesn't it.

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