Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

So far, so bad when it comes to media coverage of the 2008 presidential race

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Originally published on on Thu, 05/29/2008 – 9:26am

If you never got punished for breaking a lamp, would that increase the chances of you breaking a lamp?

John McCain parlayed a classic tactic from the Busheviks, and got the same treatment the Busheviks got for doing it – nothing.

What feat did McCain pull off? “Releasing” his medical records on a Friday. And McCain, knowing that after eight years of Bush, you have to add something new to the mix: not only doing so on a Friday before one of the few holidays we get as Americans, but also showing some of the pages to a select few reporters for a short period of time with no photocopies. George W. Bush was probably so proud of McCain at that moment.

Now that to the average non-pundit, what McCain did was asinine and should be showered with scorn. And even worse than his “release” of his tax returns. But in the MSM, McCain got away with something that even Bush hadn’t done.

So honestly, why shouldn’t McCain keep doing cheap crappy stunts such as this? If you don’t think you will get punished, why wouldn’t you keep doing it?

We have reached a logical point to assess where the media has been so far. Disappointed? It’s a natural reaction: we’ve had Charlie Gibson’s obsession with capital gains tax rates and rich “middle-class” people, Chris Matthews’ misogyny against Hillary Clinton, obsessions with flag pins, FOX ‘News’ false and unprovoked attacks, especially against Barack Obama, one-sided obsessions over pastors, and a lovely mix of racism, sexism, and anti-Muslim bias in a race where no Muslims are running.

And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it will get worse. The MSM loves McCain, so there are many more mistakes he will make where the MSM cries out “oh look, Grandpa said something wrong and/or inflammatory. Isn’t that cute?”

We’ll have many wonderful stories about whether Obama can appeal to white people or older white women or Hispanics or left-handed Asians who are lactose intolerant and don’t like baseball. We will have no such story about whether McCain can appeal to blacks or Hispanics or even independents.

And let’s not leave off the alternative media as well. They have picked up the slack for the MSM (once again), and their efforts are appreciated. But there is one glaring error.

We pick on the MSM when they start a lie and then repeat it so many times (e.g., Al Gore invented the Internet). So when the alternative press does something similar, they need to be called on the carpet.

This is a statement that has been repeated ad nauseam, and it isn’t true: “Hillary Clinton was the only candidate on the ballot in Michigan.”

This statement could be true if you added the word “major” before “candidate.” It would be insulting to Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd, and Mike Gravel, but you could easily argue that it’s true.

So why has the lie been repeated? You could argue that it’s not a lie, they are using short-hand for “well, Barack Obama or John Edwards weren’t on the ballot.” Well, it’s a nasty habit that the MSM does all the time, and it’s still bad.

Harold Meyerson, in yesterday’s column in The Washington Post, had a funny take on the subject.

“Seating Michigan in full would mean the party validates the kind of one-candidate election (well, 1.03, to give Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd and Mike Gravel, who also remained on the ballot, their due) that is more common in autocracies than democracies.”

But hey, Meyerson didn’t spread the lie.

On January 15, you could have argued that Clinton, Obama, or Edwards would win Michigan if all their names were on the ballot. But if Kucinich had won Michigan, the script would have been rewritten. Watching the early stages of the presidential race should be like cooking rice: Let it simmer and don’t stir it up. Let the process happen.

There have been a few good things. Steve Kroft in Ohio telling an interviewee, when that interviewee said Obama was a Muslim, corrected him on camera and said he wasn’t a Muslim. But overall, the media has been sloppy, and in the case of the MSM, lethargic and having a bit of a man-crush on John McCain. Time for the second half, media: let’s do a better job out there about talking about the issues that truly reflect Americans. And in the words of the great philosopher Phil Esterhaus: Hey, let’s be careful out there.


Written by democracysoup

May 29, 2008 at 9:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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