Tuesday, February 14, 2006

White House To Manage Media

New White House Press Strategy On VP Shooting Deemed "Smashing Success"

Expect More Reports From Average Citizens, Local Papers Breaking News; President May Board Up Press Room

Despite the first photo of President Bush and Jack Abramoff appearing yesterday, the White House was buoyant this morning, over the "smashing success" of their new media strategy, which debuted this weekend with the incident of Vice President Dick Cheney shooting a fellow hunter in Texas.

"It was alittle rocky, with the briefing," admitted White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, "however, I would have to say the new strategy was a smashing success."

What the White House did was to wait and hold the news of the Cheney's shooting for nearly 18-hours, and then, sailing into, essentially, unprecedented waters, boldly allow a private citizen to release the news to her local paper.

"We were able to keep this away from the Sunday news show cycle," added McClellan.

With the shooting of Texas Republican lawyer Harry Whittington lawyer by the Vice President occurring at 5:30PM on Saturday, it wasn't until nearly 11AM on Sunday that host and ranch owner, Katharine Armstrong called the Corpus Christi Caller-Times to give an eye-witness account of the mishap.

According to the Washington Post, the Vice President left it up to Armstrong to release the news.

"In a telephone interview, Armstrong said that she, her mother and her sister, Sara Storey Armstrong Hixon, decided on Sunday morning after breakfast to report the shooting accident to the media. "It was my family's own volition, and the vice president agreed. We felt -- my family felt and we conferred as a family -- that the information needed to go public. It was our idea," Armstrong said."

The Post is also reporting the Mary Matalin, a member of WHIG inside the White House, worked with Cheney and the Armstrongs on the handling of the news of the shooting.

The White House would not comment if if Ms. Matalin believed that Mr. Whittington, the shooting victim, or any other members of the hunting party were racists.

"That's the beauty of this," said Dan Bartlett, counselor to the President, and former Communications Director. "Instead of managing the news, all we have to do is step back."

Bartlett said that the new media strategy was designed by himself, and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card.

"Andy's always looking for ways that we can market ourselves better."

White House Special Council, Karl Rove, also contributed to the new strategy, taking pieces of his "Post Sept. 11th Worldview" plan and plugging it in.

The new White House Media Strategy calls for the Administration, from the Oval Office down, through all departments, to have the participants in news events have autonomy to choose who delivers it and how. It calls for all newspapers - large or small circulation, dailies or weeklies, even internationals - to be considered for major scoops of news coming out of the White House and Bush Administration.

It also now calls for all major news events, treaty signings, policy decisions, just about anything that goes on with the White House, down through all departments, to be moved to weekends and announced through private citizens, in rural locations.

"The more rural," said Bartlett, "the longer window we have before it hits the news wires."

Post-It Notes not ruled out

"Everything is on the table," said Bartlett. "You can go down the list … Private citizens reporting news to big city papers, small town weeklies. I'd say even Senior Citizen activity schedules and school lunch pamphlets are in the loop for possible release outlets."

"And we haven't ruled out Post-It Notes," added Bartlett. "With the wide variety and styles of those things, we can easily get a press release put out on some of the larger ones."

McClellan confirmed that "the press briefing room could be boarded up."

"If this new media strategy takes off, I suspect we won't be needing that room anymore."

Throw Article II Out The Window

With the Bush White House increasingly wrapping themselves in secrecy, and seeking to broaden and strength their executive powers, Bartlett offered a startling admission.

"With this new press strategy, President Bush and Vice President Cheney will see less need to invoke Article II of the Constitution. You can throw that puppy right out the window."

"By the time the mainstream media gets the story, the full story, we'll be three stories down from them.

Former VP Given Protection

McClellan did say there was one snafu with launching the new White House Media Strategy.

"All the legs of it were not, initially, coordinated."

The Secret Service hadn’t been briefed on the new strategy, so, when the radio calls went out about a "vice-president shooting" teams were immediately dispatched to former Vice President Dan Quayle, to add a layer of extra protection.

A spokesman for Quayle said "he was grateful for the attention" and "wasn't worried about being in any danger."

Neither Bartlett or McClellan would confirm the rumors circulating yesterday that Jeff Gannon and Talon News would be gaining back their White House credentials.

"If that is to be news we would release," said McClellan, "you would have to wait until we choose a private citizen and a location to make that announcement. Who knows, if you check the wires this coming weekend, maybe there'll be something on it."

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is pointing to the "smashing success" of the new White House Media Strategy, saying that "the press briefing room could be boarded up."

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