Veracity vacuum

June 3rd, 2002 § Comments off

Ari Fleischer, President Bush’s press secretary, has a breathtaking ability to ignore the truth whenever it fails to serve his employer’s interests.

It could be worse, though; he could be Ron Ziegler, Nixon’s press secretary. Timothy Crouse describes Ziegler well in The Boys on the Bus:

[A]t thirty-three, Ziegler was the compleat flack. He started as a press agent for the Southern California Central Republican Committee and later, as an executive at J. Walter Thompson in Los Angeles, he touted Disneyland. In 1968, he had watched public relations men win the election for Richard Nixon, and now he saw them beginning to rule the world. …While many flacks were former journalists who secretly loathed themselves for sinking into the whoredom of press agentry, Ziegler gave every sign of considering public relations a profession superior to journalism; after all, journalists merely wrote what flacks told them. …

Ziegler was the perfect spokesman for the Nixon Administration. He was totally loyal to his boss and he treated the press with a bland contempt that was quite genuine and unaffected. At the briefing lectern, he was smug, condescending, and relentlessly evasive, often refusing to answer the simplest and most innocuous of questions. He talked in a kind of flackspeak that would have given Orwell nightmares. He sometimes accused reporters of “trying to complexify the situation,” and he reversed White House positions by the simple expedient of announcing that he had “misspoken” himself in the past.

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