The Wall Street Journal's snot-nosed James Taranto plays Gotcha!:
That '70s Show
"I called the media.... I said, 'If I take some crippled veterans down to the White House and we chain ourselves to the gates, will we get coverage?' 'Oh, yes, we will cover that.'"--John Kerry, testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, April 22, 1971
"Kerry is sending to Crawford former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, a frequent companion of Kerry's on the campaign trail and a fellow Vietnam War veteran who lost three limbs during the war. Cleland ... will try to deliver a letter protesting the [Swift Boat Veterans for Truth] ads to [President] Bush at his heavily guarded ranch, Kerry aides said."--Reuters, Aug. 25, 2004
So what's the problem? All that tells me is that Kerry in 1971 knew the failings of the media, especially the broadcast media, and those failings, if anything, have gotten worse since then. If a cheap stunt is what it takes to get a message past the gatekeeper, isn't that the gatekeeper's fault?
Here's that 1971 Kerry quote in context:
There is one other body that has tremendous power in this country, which is a favorite topic of Vice President Agnew and I would take some agreement with him. That would be the fourth estate. The press. I think the very reason that we veterans are here today is the result partially of our inability to get our story out through the legitimate channels.
That is to say, for instance, I held a press conference here in Washington, D.C., some weeks ago with General Shoup, with General Hester, with the mother of a prisoner of war, the wife of a man who was killed, the mother of a soldier who was killed, and with a bilateral amputee, all representing the so-called silence majority, the silent so-called majority which the President used to perpetuate the war, and because it was a press conference and an antiwar conference and people simply exposing ideas we had no electronic media there.
I called the media afterward and asked them why and the answer was, from one of the networks, it doesn't have to be identified, "because, is, new business is really partly entertainment business visually, you see, and a press conference like that is not visual."
Of course, we don't have the position of power to get our ideas out. I said, "If I take some crippled veterans doesn't to the White House and we chain ourselves to the gates, will we get coverage?" "Oh, yes, we will cover that."
So you are reduced to a position where the only way you can get your ideas out is to stage events, because had we not staged the events, will all due respect, Senator, and I really appreciate the fact that I am here obviously, and I know you are committed to this, but with all due respect I probably wouldn't be sitting at this table. You see this is the problem.
Sensationalism trumps substance on TV -- absolutely right. That was the problem then and it's the problem now.