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Recollecting the time Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes actually apologized.
(Page 3 of 3)
Wallace: “Well, in any case…”
Livingston: “And frankly, you’ve proven me right.”
Bingo. You could almost hear the phone line sizzle. Wallace had no answer. There was no good answer. Livingston was correct.
Yes, Wallace did apologize on the air—not for a whole host of other falsehoods that I had detailed, but for saying Livingston had flat-out refused to be interviewed on camera. But the apology was clear, unambiguous. It left no wiggle room. We now had it, on TV, that Wallace had wronged Livingston.
And the apology for one part of the report had the same effect as an apology for all of it. Columnists and radio hosts, all over the country, rushed to Livingston’s defense. The Washington Post’s famous peacenik Colman McCarthy, a man who ordinarily would agree with Livingston on nothing, was especially strong. His thorough, concise, and eloquent column called Livingston an “honorable” congressman who had done the right thing throughout.
ONE NOTE, THOUGH, about the McCarthy piece. It was the only one that really covered all the other dishonesties in the 60 Minutes report. It was the only one that made real use of my 27-page manifesto. A number of journalists defended Livingston, but only McCarthy really explained the underlying dispute. The one thing that drew the attention of the rest of them was the simple, straight apology, based on the original simple, straightforward demand that a TV show not splice an interview out of context.
I, the press aide, had forgotten the nature of the press. But Livingston remembered: Keep it simple. Keep it straight. Keep it absolutely clear. And play it smart by collecting evidence that cannot possibly be denied.
Conservatives today are dealing with an even more hostile establishment press—but it is a press that treats President Barack Obama as a savior. Witness 60 Minutes itself, both last December and in March, dropping its usual hardball tactics and offering a friendly forum to Obama with nothing but puffball questions. In contrast, Obama’s critics come off as obstructionist trolls.
In fighting those media tactics, conservatives all too often forget the same lessons I forgot. They were the lessons of concision and clarity that Ronald Reagan always taught. They are lessons that conservatives will need if they want to get their message out and make it stick—because, when dealing with the establishment media, we aren’t necessarily dealing with gentlemen.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?