Live from this hay bale in Crawford, Texas

This hay bale probably isn’t in Crawford, Texas. I don’t know where it is actually. But it is here to illustrate the illusion being perpetrated by the electronic news media. You see all those TV stand-ups from Crawford when President Bush visits his ranch? Well, those reporters are not out on the Rancho de Jorge W. They are not even on a ranch or a farm, they are out in back of Crawford Middle School. I’m sorry to break it to you. It’s kind of like no Santa Claus or Easter Rabbit. The old gymnasium at the school serves as the (Western) White House press center when GW is at his home about eight miles away.

But you see the reporters standing, nonetheless, before a hay bale and dilapidated barn and rusty farm implements. It looks, said Elizabeth Bumiller of The New York Times, “as if a cow might wander by any moment.” But these props are in fact just a couple of blocks from “downtown” Crawford, as much as a town of 700 can have a downtown.

I don’t know why the television networks persist in making it seem their reporters are Gucci-deep in meadow muffins. Granted, there aren’t a lot of sights to see in Crawford except for several gift shops and the Coffee Station Cafe, friendly as the town folks are there. Even if the correspondents stood up by the Western White House logo, which they have up inside the gym, it would be a little more honest than standing up before the pseudo Green Acres.

Well, I suppose TV has got to make it seem like something it’s not. Otherwise we would just get news and it would probably depress us even more. It’s probably a good thing they don’t do the report from the top of the water tower in Crawford, come to think of it.

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