Sunday, October 30, 2005

The other side...

There are two sides to every story and to the White House.

This is the north side, which faces Lafayette Park, and which is the side that we see most often on the news, unless the president is landing in his helicopter on the back lawn of the White House. There are not only camera setups on rooftops in the neighborhood that point in this direction, so you can see the White House over the shoulder of whoever is reporting.

It was too dark to take a picture of the permanent setups that are in front of the West Wing, pointing toward the columned entrance, again so that you can see the White House over the shoulder of the correspondent. It looks good on TV, but it's pretty funny to come by and see them all at news hour, standing up in a row as if facing a video firing squad. They stand mute, waiting, then, without any visible reason, they begin talking to no one, all facing in the same direction.

There are more interesting and fun things to do here in DC, but sometimes it's fun to see just what that man behind the curtain looks like. And these are men and women whose Wizard faces we're all used to seeing, so much so that it's almost jarring to watch them standing cheek by jowl, not on separate networks, but all guests on the same lawn and partners in the same endeavor.

It also brings to light that they are truly guests of the White House, and guests can always be asked to leave by their host. I think that this explains why they all ask such slow-pitch softball questions these days that it took us years to notice Jeff Gannon, shill for Rove/Bush. None of them want to be shown the door of the president's house. It also explains why the big stories about the president so rarely (never?) come from within the White House press corps. It would be like Kato exposing O.J.--what would be in it for Kato, or the WH press corps? Better for them that they don't report what they know, so they can enjoy a longer tenure as a guest, hanging out on the lawn, flying around on Air Force One, and so forth.

As a woman photographer (someone will remind me of her name, I'm sure) once said, it's good, when facing something beautiful, to turn your back to the beautiful scene and see what's in the other direction. This is perhaps why those reporters who face the White House can't report on it clearly--because they can't see it clearly. And, this is perhaps why those who turn their back on the White House to report on it turn out to be those who can see it and describe it most clearly.

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