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Quayle Hunting

July 03, 1994

I find having Hugh Hewitt review Dan Quayle's "Standing Firm" (May 15) particularly offensive. It is like having Goebbels review "Mein Kampf." Or, with a little less hyperbole, like George Will reviewing the Reagan/Carter debate after having prepped Reagan with Carter's purloined talking papers.

At one point Hewitt says: "This nation's media elite has abandoned the old virtues of journalism, including objectivity, fairness, balance, context and critically-any sense of relative import." This from a man who is a member of the media (though not so elite), and who turned his KFI pulpit into infomercials for candidates he supported?

Every paragraph of the review could be subjected to similar criticism, as could the judgment of the Times editors in selecting Hewitt as reviewer.

ROBERT L. FOX, Los Angeles

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Both Hugh Hewitt and Dan Quayle have misidentified the source of the mockery endured by the former Vice-President. The negative spin did not originate in the media, but in American culture itself: Because of Quayle's background and youthful appearance, because of George Bush's avuncular personality, because of the full generation's age difference between them, and because of the Republican Party's identity as the party of privilege, Dan Quayle got cast as the archetypal Boss's Son.

This explains both the duration and the across-the-board nature of the scorn directed at Quayle. The working man laughed along with the elite Washington reporter, and no amount of counterspin could undo it. That the media moved so quickly and uniformly in its denunciations proves only that the media is composed of Americans.

The good news for Quayle is that he was indeed the victim of social forces acting beyond his control: If he and his political party exercise more care in their selection of running mates, such problems will not arise. The bad news, of course, is that if Quayle insists on assigning blame for his troubles, he will have to blame the American people for being Americans.

RICHARD GLEAVES, San Diego

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The review of Dan Quayle's book in your Book Review section, told us that shallow critics were playing up Quayle's fellow Republican detractions and not paying homage or even mentioning his main theme, namely, the power of the press to anoint or destroy a political career.

JACK WEBER, Ventura

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