Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Information wars" in Washington DC

Our political culture has a “combat mentality.” It doesn’t exactly fit with our naive civics-class indoctrination from the 8th grade.

How bad are things in the world of politics?

Sometimes the “war” seeps out around the edges, as it did on Tuesday in a seemingly innocuous article about young Washington, D.C. aides hired to digest the news and present it to their bosses.

While news readers in technocratic departments seem to approach their jobs relatively dispassionately, Bobby Maldonado, 26, brings a different mentality to his job working for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He's up at 4 a.m. to get a jump on events so that he can strategically analyze, arrange and present them to his big-business bosses at the Chamber.

You get a flavor for his, and the Chamber’s, perspective when you read how young Maldonado describes his job.

“The information wars are won before work....Our executives walk into meetings and they’re doing battles, whether it’s on health care or cap and trade, and information is power, and my job is to make sure they’re armed with the most powerful information.”

“Wars,” “battles,” “armed.”

Reading the story, you don’t get the feeling that Maldonado is some Glock-toting kook. But he's just another soldier — and aide to battlefield generals. His words fit the political culture of victors and vanquished. These folks are out for blood.

And the media amplify it. Of all the headlines that the Times could have put on a tepid story, the one they chose came from Maldonado’s quote. “Where News is Power, A Fight to be Well-armed.”

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