And indeed, the media is to blame for many of our current problems. For instance, the media is widely blamed for being a co-contributor to the national disaster that is the Iraq war. Their failure to investigate the claims of the Bush administration are well known and need not be laid out here.
Worse, they have become utterly responsive to Republican attack for being “liberal” to the extent that they have become virtually paralyzed. This of course was the intent of the Republicans in the first place. It all is somewhat amusing when you really think about it. Of course the media is as a group not liberal at all, most every major media group is owned lock stock and barrel by Republican elite business mega corporations. They are anything but liberal. While some journalists certainly are, they seem to know which side of their bread is buttered on, and at best give lip service these days to true journalistic independence.
A well placed letter written by McCain surrogates, lamenting the awful media bias against their man has resulted in Olbermann and Matthews being pulled as the main men for the upcoming election. MSNBC collapsed in wet pants, wagging their tails furiously and begging to be forgiven as it place a more palatable team in place, one noticeably less antagonistic to the McCain position.
This of course is nothing new. All our media, from TV to print has been similarly co-opted by the Republicans who then turn and receive mock criticism from other Republicans about being “liberal.” The media stooges then play the perfect foil and pretend to retract their “liberal” journalists in favor of “unbiased” (read same old Republican sympathizers) ones.
In some sense, one can better appreciate Fox, who at least is quite open about hiring far right conservatives, either neo-con or evangelical, with a token of “liberals” all the while claiming to be “fair and balanced.” While Fox continues to proclaim fairness, nobody seriously believes it, and indeed many find them a good offset to the perceived bias of the rest. The fact is, there is little if any difference among them all.
Most of what “appears” to be unbiased, is just that, appearance. If one watches the Sunday political news from George Stephanopolous,. one cannot for long disregard that on his “roundtable” a for sure conservative is always in attendance, George Will. There is no comparable liberal always seated. We are left with the Cokie Roberts who has always been the polite, get along to go along type. The much vaunted Tim Russert was also not noted for being a real tenacious questioner either.
I was amused by a story this morning from Norman Solomon who wondered if the mainstream media was envious of Jon Stewart and his going after the right wing with directness. He claims that the media wishes they could do this too, and wonders why they cannot. Well, duh, isn’t that obvious? Most people like having a job I suspect, especially if they are expected to pay the mortgage and put food on the table.
You may say, well, business is still business. Money talks. Rating are money. Yes, but ideology among the very rich trumps even money to a degree. Olbermann is without question the moneymaker for MSNBC. Yet they pulled Olbermann off the election coverage because he was ticking off the McCain campaign. But they did keep him on his regular show. Money does matter, of course, it’s just not the only consideration.
As the last several weeks have unfolded, the rhetoric at Comedy Central has seemed to increase. Stewart’s attacks on John McCain have been sharper and more lethal. I mentioned to the Contrarian only a few days ago, that Stewart seems to have lost his love affair with McCain and given the attacks leveled by him, I doubted that McCain would ever appear again on the show.
Stewart seems to have become totally exasperated with the media, especially when Palin made her debut. It is almost as if he said, “well, if they aren’t going to call a spade a spade given this insult, I guess it’s up to us.” And indeed it does seem that way.
This is what is fundamentally wrong with American politics today. You can have the best message, and the best plan, but if the media allows your opponent to go unchallenged with both lies and innuendos, and spends all of its time on obviously false diversionary claims, then the message and the plan get lost. Voters are busy people, and unlike those of us who are political junkies, they barely pay any attention. If what attention they do pay is taken up by out right lying ads and obfuscating false charges which the media spends all its time on, well, what do you think they get out of it? Certainly not anything about the message and plans.
This is what the cynical Republicans bank on. One feels that one is in a crazy world where up is down and down is up. It’s a perfect Catch 22. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. All the metaphors work here.
The picture is not totally grim however. There are exceptions. Joe Klein at Newsweek, has left the McCain bandwagon in disgust, seeing that McCain has forsaken the country in his personal desire to be President at any and all costs. The usually tame Charlie Gibson, seemed to reacquire some backbone in part at least with his tougher interview with Sarah Palin. (In case you didn’t hear, they are going for a softer touch for her next interview, the laughable Sean Hannity.) A nice article at from Newsday now suggests that the media is starting to push backfrom the drubbing given them by the public at large. Real articles are being written about the utter lack of truthfulness of many of Palin’s claims.
The Newsday article lays out a series of lies and the fact that major newspapers are striking back, calling them what they are, lies. The list of editorials being written and how scathing they are in their remarks is truly heartwarming and encouraging to those of us who hope for truth.
From the St. Petersburg Times, September 14, 2008:
McCain’s straight talk has become a toxic mix of lies and double-speak. It is leaving a permanent stain on his reputation for integrity, and it is a short-term strategy that eventually will backfire with the very types of independent-thinking voters that were so attracted to him.
McCain’s faux chivalrous outrage over Obama’s purported insult is beneath him. He has been a serious public servant willing to say unpopular truths when he thought it best for the country, but he’s more than willing in this election to put his name on campaign lies. The leader who says he would rather lose an election than lose a war now risks losing his reputation in an attempt to win the White House.
From the NYTimes, September 12, 2008:
Indeed, in recent days, Mr. McCain has been increasingly called out by news organizations, editorial boards and independent analysts like FactCheck.org. The group, which does not judge whether one candidate is more misleading than another, has cried foul on Mr. McCain more than twice as often since the start of the political conventions as it has on Mr. Obama.
From the Atlanta Journal Constitution, September 13, 2008:
That’s really something, lying straight out about a FactCheck group, knowing that you’re going to get caught but not giving a damn about it.
With stuff like this, the McCain camp has cut any remaining tethers to reality and integrity and is now floating wherever the winds of illusion and whimsy may take them. It’s quite remarkable, and quite insulting to the intelligence of the American people.
From the Pittsburg Post Gazette, September 12, 2008:
The other hole is the one you’ve thrown yourself into since securing the Republican nomination. Your new home is the self-imposed darkness of a man who jettisoned his principles for an even shot at the highest office in the land.
You once said you’d rather lose an election than lose a war. Is it worth winning an election if it means forfeiting your soul on the altar of political expediency?
How does a man survive five years in a Vietnamese dungeon only to allow himself to be turned into a cynical marionette by the nihilistic disciples of Karl Rove? [Note: this one is brilliant, read the entire article.]
From the Boston Globe, September 12, 2008:
HERE’S THE QUESTION voters should be asking themselves this week: Just how stupid does the McCain-Palin campaign think I am?
The answer: Dumb enough to hoodwink with charges so contrived and cynical they make your teeth ache.
From the Chicago Tribune, September 14, 2008:
Now politicians are not saints, and campaigns are not conducted under oath. We all expect a certain amount of deceit from people running for office, in the form of fudging, distortion, exaggeration and omission. But the McCain campaign’s approach, as this episode illustrates, [pretended outrage at the lipstick remark] is of an entirely different scale and character. It is to normal political attacks what Hurricane Ike is to a drive-through carwash.
But McCain has concluded that a fact-based case about Obama isn’t enough to prevail in November. So he has chosen to smear his opponent with ridiculous claims that he thinks the American people are gullible enough to believe.
He has charged repeatedly that his opponent is willing to lose a war to win an election. What’s McCain willing to lose to become president? Nothing so consequential as a war. Just his soul.
The Chicago Tribune, September 12, 2008:
[referring to the ad about sex education for kindergarten children]
I’m John McCain and I approved this message.
With that infamous admission, McCain surrendered his integrity and signaled a willingness to say or do anything to get elected.
We used to expect better from John McCain. No longer.
**We picked this up from AlterNet which reprinted the Newsday article. This is a lengthy article and we have but remarked on a few of the articles excerpted there. Please read the rest.
It seems that the print media at least is tired of being the pawn in this dangerous game that McCain and company are playing with America. Perhaps they have hopes of stimulating their failing subscription rates. At least they, with the blogging community are beginning to speak out and loudly deride the venomous, immoral manner in which Mr. McCain is conducting his campaign.
It’s nice to have some help at last.