TUESDAY’S LETTERS: Echoes of Agnew, Open Letter to Tim Russert, Is ‘NY Times’ Expletive Really So Important?

By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, a reader asks whether President Bush’s use of the word “shit” was the most important part of the story yesterday, an open letter to Tim Russert, and praise for Sarah Weber’s article on Spiro Agnew.


‘Shit’ Happens, But Only When ‘They’ Say So

Instead of focusing on Bush and his use of “shit” E&P should have been focusing on his use of the word “they”. Who [are] they? Of course, anyone with an ounce of grey matter knows that “they” is Bush and cabal that started all this shit in 2001! He doesn’t even get it, does he? … “Get him out before he destroys all of us” should be today’s mantra.

Joan Magit
Northridge, Calif.


An Open Letter to Tim Russert

Regarding your interview with Novak, I think you worked admirably to contest all this nonsense that he’s finally honed down to a story he felt worthy of coming on your show to spout. … You should have pressed him even further. I sat there STUNNED. [He was] quite obviously changing his story to protect the criminals that make up our current administration — and to protect himself. … Throw his ass in jail for protecting Rove, Cheney & whoever else! This is NOT about protecting the rights of journalists, or who they interview. He is a perfect example of the new press, the kind that is happy to be exploited and used by this administration for their own use — then lie to cover up whatever they’d like. Just another day in the Bush administration I guess. No, this is not Watergate — it’s so much worse …

J. Green


Echoes of Agnew

I appreciated [Sarah Weber’s article on Spiro Agnew]. It was comprehensive and unprejudiced, reviewing the speech instead of the speaker, and the reactions to it.

I’m still waiting for an extended piece by somebody on the fact that the antagonism between the Republican Party and the national, urban press is part of the furniture of American politics, and how this came to be the case. Left-leaning stalwarts like Eric Alterman and Eric Boehlert make energetic denials that the mainstream media leans to the left, but I think they are missing the forest for the trees . . . the vocabulary and framing devices of most daily political journalism accept the ‘liberal’ narrative of American politics that has dominated historical writing at least since the New Deal, but which has been shown to be severely limited as a tool for understanding American politics in recent decades. So, for example, the recent Duke/lacrosse/rape accusation case was initially played strongly as a ‘teaching moment’ in which white Americans could be instructed again the liberal narrative about race and class in this country; however, the lesson turned out to be along the lines of a competing conservative narrative, and so the story has been all but dropped. Something similar happened after Hurricane Katrina, when the orthodox liberal explanation of what happened (rich white people survived, poor black people died) ran up against reality (age was the variable that determined who died, not race or even class) and the ‘teaching moment’ was quietly abandoned in favor of arguments about competence.

I think the predominance of the middle-class liberal explanation of politics has something to do with the urban/affluent voice of most political journalism . . . Anyway, as I say, it is a topic that some bright writer who has no particular axe to grind should research. Hint.

Mark Richard
Columbus, Ohio

Thanks for doing that Agnew thing. Very useful.

Jay Rosen

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