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How the media bungled the Jeb Bush speech

Caricature of SteveThe nation’s media had an opportunity this week to provide meaningful coverage and analysis of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s views on world affairs.  Instead news organizations bungled the moment choosing instead to ridicule Bush for style and ignoring his substance.

Speaking to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs  last Wednesday, Mr. Bush outlined six principles he says shape his view of the world.  It was a clear implication of how he would frame an expected bid for the White House in 2016.


Governor Bush said the U.S. is capable of Economic Growth at four percent annually and America’s Words Must Match Its Actions. He called for renewed Military Strength, increased International Engagement, upgraded Security against so-called Non-State Threats, and a commitment to what he termed Liberty Diplomacy.


Media reaction to his speech was swift, predictable and often disappointing. The Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank couldn’t resist a cheap shot at Bush’s language.

VOX called Mr. Bush awkward,  The Daily Beast criticized his pronunciation and even The New York Times lazily belittled his performance.

The American Conservative magazine called the address weak while The Huffington Post took issue with the Governor’s advisers on international affairs.

The Weekly Standard sought interesting quotes rather than substantive analysis.

Even Politico discussed Jeb Bush, the introvert and the potential impact of his personality during a long presidential campaign.

Conservative publications, on the other hand, such as National JournalNational Review, and Commentary were predictably laudatory.

There were some balanced new stories–although you had to search for them.  They included  the Associated Press,  The Atlantic,  The Christian Science Monitor, and The Hill.


However, no major publication made a serious effort to analyze precisely how Governor Bush would realize his six principles or whether his record as governor indicates he has the knowledge and experience to promote his agenda.

My preference for presidential candidates is well documented. I want someone with proven administrative experience in the private and public sector. Former and present governors have a clear record to examine–U.S. senators less so. And there are enough Republican White House aspirants with sufficient histories to keep the press busy for the next two years.

Although undeclared Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton is not a former governor, her years at First Lady of Arkansas, the United States, and Secretary of State provide a trove of opportunities for media scrutiny as well.

America’s next president will be elected 20 months from now. The nation’s news media have sufficient time to dig into the specifics of every major candidate’s record and publish detailed information about the qualifications of each.

Or journalists can continue to waste their time and ours with slapdash, lazy reporting as happened this week.

Meanwhile, you can make up your own mind about the Jeb Bush speech in Chicago. It takes several minutes to watch.  But if we want to be informed voters, we should take the time. Especially if the media won’t.

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