Veep as Vamp

Bush surrogates sissify John Edwards. But will it backfire? Plus: What did Whoopi say?

This claim, and a standing lawsuit from the Independent Media Institute, recall Murdoch's attempt to stop Al Franken from appropriating Fox's slogan in his recent book. That tort got laughed out of court. But responding in kind is a dangerous game. If the petition somehow flies, there could be a rash of similar complaints against liberal groups for using slogans that are "notoriously" false. Is it really accurate for a film attacking Fox to refer to Murdoch's "war on journalism"? Depends on your point of view, but those who don't share it might sue.

False advertising is not the same as bias. The former is subject to testing; the latter can only be judged subjectively. That's why it's crucial to keep the state and the courts out of this area. Not that anyone is likely to sue the libertarian journal Reason for being irrational, but what goes around often comes around where censorship is concerned. Today, "fair and balanced"; tomorrow, "Bush is a liar."

What Did Whoopi Say?

Everyone knows that Whoopi Goldberg put too much starch in John Kerry's collar at a Democratic fundraiser last week. But what did she actually say? You wouldn't know from most press accounts, which made only vague mention of her references to "bush" as part of the female anatomy. Not even Drudge went all the way. (Perhaps he's a prude when it comes to the female anatomy.) A frantic database search led to a very unlikely source: Matt Labash of the conservative Weekly Standard. According to him, Whoopi's remarks ran like this: "Nothing has given me more pleasure than bush. . . . Someone has tarnished the world in the name of Bush. . . . Keep bush where it belongs, not in the White House."

There's a lesson here about the consequences of failing to report the full content of a controversial statement. It makes the comment seem so kinky that it can't be printed in the papers. The media's reticence enabled the Republicans to portray Goldberg—and Kerry—as fonts of perversion. If Dick Cheney's obscene utterance in the Senate sailed by, that's partly because the press came closer to letting us know what he'd actually said, and partly because it's less threatening when a man blurts, "Fuck yourself!" than when a woman meditates on her body. All the more reason for candor. When it comes to sexual politics, what isn't fit to print is often the truth.


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