USA Today parrots RNC on Bush-bashing celebrities


Eric Boehlert
July 21, 2004 10:14PM (UTC)

Detailing the apparent wave of Bush bashing among celebrities, USA Today calls upon the etiquette police in today's paper and announces the trend towards political activism in Hollywood to be deeply, deeply troubling. Sounding suspiciously like current GOP talking points, the paper declares ominously that "anti-Bush rhetoric appears to be spinning out of control," while also announcing it's "alienating both Republicans and Democrats." But good luck to readers locating any proof in the article to back up either claim, because none is offered.

The article is reminiscent of a Knight-Ridder news service piece that ran right after Sen. John Kerry's celebrity fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall earlier this month, during which comedian Whoopi Goldberg made some off-color Bush jokes. In that story, Knight-Ridder declared the wisecracks had "provoked widespread criticism." Yet the only two critics quoted in the article were the Bush-Cheney campaign manager and another Bush-Cheney surrogate. That's "widespread"? Again, sounds more like RNC talking points to us.

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USA Today also can't find anyone independent of the Bush-Cheney camp to prop up the notion that celebrities--no doubt angered by the war in Iraq which has claimed nearly 1,000 American lives and likely tens of thousands of Iraqi livesare alienating anyone other than Bush donors.

Even the celebrity examples the paper cites barely add up to a trend, let alone a scary epidemic. Goldberg's jokes were eighth-grade level puns playing off Bush's last name, and ancient rocker Ozzy Osbourne recently dropped "War Pigs" from his concert set list after complaints were made about an accompanying video that interspersed images of Adolf Hitler and Bush. As for '70s crooner Linda Ronstadt and the anti-Bush remarks she made from a Las Vegas concert stage on Saturday, even USA Today concedes they were "seemingly innocuous."

Tip for USA Today; just because the RNC claims Bush-hating celebrities are out of control, that doesn't make it so. Let alone news.


Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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