On the 1988 presidential campaign:

Among those who traveled regularly with the campaigns, in other words, it was taken for granted that these “events” they were covering, and on which they were in fact filing, were not merely meaningless but deliberately so: occasions on which film could be shot and no mistakes made (“They hope he won’t make any big mistakes,” the NBC correspondent covering George Bush kept saying the evening of the September 25 debate at Wake Forest University, and, an hour and a half later, “He didn’t make any big mistakes”), events designed only to provide settings for those unpaid television spots which in this case were appearing, even as we spoke, on the local news in California’s three major media markets. “On the fishing trip, there was no way for television crews to get videotapes out,” the Los Angeles Times noted a few weeks later in a piece about how “poorly designed and executed” events had interfered with coverage of a Bush campaign “environmental” swing through the Pacific Northwest. “At the lumber mill, Bush’s advance team arranged camera angles so poorly that in one set-up only his legs could get on camera.” A Bush adviser had been quoted: “There is no reason for camera angles not being provided for. We’re going to sit down and talk about these things at length.”

“Insider Baseball.” — Joan Didion, The New York Review of Books, October 1988

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