If a Democratic National Security Plan Falls in a Forest...

During the past 24 hours we've been given an object lesson in media manipulation of the political process. This time it's a sin of omission rather than commission.

Steve at the Carpetbagger explains: "Roll Call reported today that the president was scheduled to deliver his latest speech on his Iraq policy at 1:30 yesterday afternoon, but made a last-minute switch. The White House decided it preferred that the speech "begin just minutes before the planned Democratic rollout of their security agenda." How'd the "distortion and distraction" strategy work? Fairly well, unfortunately."

Steve continues, "The Washington Post ran a brief, 600-word story on page A12.... The New York Times ran a preview article yesterday, and had no coverage of the Dems' event at all today.... USA Today literally ignored the event and the Dems' new strategy altogether.... The LA Times didn't run any news coverage on yesterday's roll-out, but instead went with a Ron Brownstein column on the national security strategy, which Brownstein criticized for lacking specifics. It ran on page A14."

Media Matters adds, "Over the past year, CNN hosts, anchors, and reporters have repeatedly commented on the Democratic Party's purported lack of a clear plan or concrete set of alternatives on issues ranging from Social Security to the war in Iraq. When a large coalition of Democrats stood together on March 29 to unveil a unified national security platform, CNN largely ignored the news.

Media Matters details CNN's (lack of) coverage: "In the early afternoon on March 29, the Democrats held a 40-minute press conference announcing the release of their new national security agenda, "Real Security: Protecting America and Restoring Our Leadership in the World." (pdf) The proposals in this set of policy papers include screening 100 percent of containers and cargo entering the United States, boosting the size of the U.S. Special Forces and National Guard, ensuring that troops have better body armor, providing more resources to first-responders, and allotting greater funding for veterans benefits."

"A Media Matters for America survey of CNN's programming on March 29 between 6 a.m. ET and 4 p.m. ET found only one mention of the Democratic plan. It came at 2:23 p.m. when CNN's Live From ... aired a brief clip of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid [NV] speaking at the Democrats' press conference. The two-minute clip came directly after CNN had provided uninterrupted coverage of Bush's speech at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C., an event that spanned an hour and a half and largely mirrored the multiple foreign policy addresses Bush has given in recent weeks."

For anyone still unclear about how media coverage directly impacts conventional wisdom, remember this episode next time you hear "Democrats don't have a plan," or "Nobody knows what Democrats stand for."