Sunday, January 22, 2017

Move over, Ziegler

Readers who lived through the Watergate affair and the impeachment of President Nixon will also vividly recall the hapless Press Secretary Ronald L. Ziegler. An adman close to Nixon's aide Bob Haldeman, Ziegler was the one who had to turn out time and again to face the press and try to explain away the increasingly damning and overwhelming evidence for the conspiracy to use illegal means to damage Nixon's opponents. He will be remembered for his wonderful rebuttal of his own vehement attacks on those who tried to uncover the truth when he told the press that all his previous statements were 'inoperative'; it has been suggested that what he meant was not they were untrue but that the truth itself was simply whatever he happened to be saying at the time, and if he changed his mind then the old truths were no longer in operation.

A brand new Ziegler, in the shape of President Trump's Press Secretary has stepped forward. Sean Spicer has trumped [Must you? Ed] Ziegler with his very first official announcements over the size of the turnout for the presidential inauguration. Spicer has

  • Claimed a greater attendance than previous years, despite absolutely no official confirmation of the turnout and aerial photos showing far more empty space than for Obama's
  • Claimed that plastic sheets used for the first time in some way mysteriously made the crowd invisible. Plastic sheeting was used in 2013. How this would affect the visibility of attendees was not explained.
  • Threatened to hold the press accountable. "...things are going to change now. And they are going to change, and they are going to get it, right?" - Nixon speaking to Haldeman and John Deane in 1972 quoted in Deane's book Blind Ambition. 'They' refers to the press.

Reporters covering the Watergate story called Ziegler's assertions, claims and bluster "ziggies". I wonder if the "spices" will follow suit.

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