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Journeys With George

Journeys With George on DVD

by Jim Bray

Okay, full disclosure. I’m a fan of President George W. Bush, so this review will obviously reflect that – as well as my distaste and distrust of the mainstream media of which the director of Journeys With George is part.

That would be Alexandra Pelosi, who at the time was a producer for NBC news assigned to cover the Bush presidential campaign in 2000 and whose mother, Nancy, is a California liberal whacko who’s the Democrats’ leader in the US House of Representatives.

So going in to Journeys With George, given the director’s pedigree and her position in a mainstream media that, on “balance,” slants so far to the left it appears in danger of toppling over, I expected a real hatchet job. That’s what these people do so well to those with whom they may disagree.

Except that it isn’t the case here. Ms. Pelosi (Alex, not Nancy) and her camcorder have brought us a portrait of the president – then candidate – that pretty much matches my impressions of a man I’ve never met but who I feel I’ve gotten to know over the past years, through watching and listening to his words and actions, and not from having relied on what the media tells me to think about him.

Whether it’s because Mr. Bush’s character and wit won over Pelosi or because she chose not to editorialize on tape, the result is a compelling look at George W. Bush the man and the candidate. It’s also a fascinating look at the self-absorbed media who spent months accompanying Bush on his seemingly endless road trip.

And Bush displays the patience of a saint at times – much as he does to this day when responding to the media’s slanted, accusatory or just plain stupid questions.

Journeys With George plays out like a piece of cinema verite, which isn’t really surprising. Candidate Bush is a pro, but despite that you can see him grow into the role as the campaign progresses – and one of the things that makes this movie work so well is that it lets you see the man and his people in action, as themselves, without the media filter. Well, not completely without it, of course, since Pelosi was doing the shooting and editing, but it’s about as unfiltered as you can get. Kudos to Pelosi for, whether intentionally or not, giving us a documentary that’s fair and balanced (gee, do you think she should change networks?).

There are some wonderful moments here as the jaded press gang spends long days, weeks and months on buses, in planes, and at campaign events all across America. But the moment that perhaps said the most to me both about the media and the president came after Pelosi’s straw poll on who her media compatriots thought would win the election.

Pelosi’s chums though Gore would win (which, of course, he almost did by any means possible including attempted theft). No news here – but when Pelosi’s informal poll made the papers itself, Pelosi found herself shunned by the so-called professionals of her profession – people who are quick to publish other polls regardless of their relevance and who aren’t averse to embarrassing their subjects. But put the shoe on the other hand...

And who was it who came to her when she was feeling alone and isolated, and helped pick up her spirits?


‘Cause that’s the kind of guy he is.

Interestingly, this section about the straw poll also includes some commentary that hinted that the Gore media contingent didn’t really like the candidate they were covering, while the Bush gang were kind of seduced by the gregarious Texan. And they also hinted that these feelings colored their coverage.

Which, of course, is a load of BS to anyone who pays attention to media coverage. Media coverage of US politics is traditionally so pro Democrat that the Democrat party should really be paying the news outlets for their blatant coverage. Democratic positions, statements and outright lies are accepted uncritically and passed on to the public while Republican positions, statements and responses to liberal lies are treated with incredulity or ridicule.

Most of the reason is the media’s leftward tilt. It isn’t that these people are deliberately biased, it’s just that they’re a herd and most of them are liberals who hang out together and with other like-minded people. This gives them the feeling that they are mainstream and that anything to the right of them is out of the mainstream.

Of course, the truth is nothing like this, which helps to explain why the mainstream media are losing audience and influence with an increasingly frustrated public - and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.

The fact that you’re reading this gives partial proof to my point.

Anyway, I’m sure that Journeys With George won’t change the minds of any on the angry left whose blind hatred of the president has shut down what parts of their minds they had open in the first place. Reasonable people will probably find it a fascinating look at George W. Bush, unplugged, the media, unplugged, and the day to day rigors and boredom of a long political campaign.

Well done, Ms. Pelosi!

As a DVD, Journeys With George is okay, though nothing special. Since it was shot on conventional home video equipment and framed for viewing on regular televisions it isn’t presented in anamorphic widescreen, and its home video roots mean the picture won’t leap off the screen. These facts work to the benefit of the feature, though, giving it a more real feel than if it were a slick, Hollywood production.

Likewise, the audio is unremarkable, but okay.

There are no extras. It would have been interesting to have a running commentary from Pelosi, recounting her adventures and amplifying them in the light of the time elapsed since then, but such isn’t the case.

Oh well.

Bottom line? If you want to find out a little more about George W. Bush, the man, and the mainstream media, the pack, this is a great place to start.


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