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The Which Blair Project

(AP)
Sure, a ton of ink has been spilled in medialand about President Bush uttering an expletive during what he thought was a private conversation with Tony Blair. But gone largely unnoticed has been the British press' reaction to the exchange: News outlets across the pond are pointing to the conversation – in which Bush at one point said "Yo, Blair" – as evidence that, contrary to Blair's claims, the relationship between the leaders is not one of equals. Reuters has the details:
The British media pored over the text of the conversation, saying it cast Blair in a subservient role and showed the unequal nature of Britain's much-vaunted "special relationship" with the United States.

"Yo, Bush! Start treating our prime minister with respect," the popular tabloid Daily Mirror said, joining others in seeing the U.S. president's greeting as disrespectful.

The broadcast chat "reinforces the damaging public image of Blair as the U.S. president's poodle," it said.

Wrote the Guardian: "[Blair] sounds less like the head of a sovereign government than a Bush official, waiting for the boss's green light -- which he does not give."

The British press' reaction once again underscores how desperate journalists are for what they consider real news – the kind that hasn't gone through a PR filter. It seems to me that you can't extrapolate all that much from the informality exhibited in a conversation between two men who have known each other for years, a conversation that they thought was just between them. But it appears that because journalists feel so stage managed, they dissect these rare glimpses at an honest exchange down to the smallest detail. And, perhaps, come to out-of-proportion conclusions. If the members of the press felt that they had more access to the reality behind the curtain, they might not be so quick to draw such grand conclusions from such scant evidence.