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October 15, 2008

Journalistic Bubble Wrap

Kevin E. Dayhoff

One of the hottest subplots to the 2008 presidential campaign is how would the contest, the polls and the final outcome have looked if the “old – elite” media had not been so biased towards the Democratic Party in general and specifically the Democrat nominee, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama.


In three weeks the longest presidential campaign in history will mercifully come to an end. However, long after the final vote count is tallied, the debate over the relationship between the media, government, and politics will continue unabated long into the future.


It is a collective national conversation that must take place.


Yet, as much as most conservatives are convinced that the “elite media” leans liberal, my colleagues on the left remain skeptical to the point of ridiculing anyone who suggests that the major media outlets are biased.


Nevertheless, the bias insidiously manifests itself in a number of ways, from double standards, situational ethics, and the use of selective quotations, to turning a blind eye to negative information about Senator Obama and persistently repeating the talking points of the Democratic Party as if they were fact.


It has also been argued that the contentious and unpleasant nature of the current contest between Senator Obama and the Republican nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, has its roots in the manner that Senator Obama defeated Sen. Hillary R. Clinton (NY) in the Democratic primary; which was aided and abetted by a biased media.


The seeds of discontent over media coverage began early in the Democratic primary coverage when the mainstream press coverage of Democratic hopeful, Senator Clinton, went beyond unfair and bordered on openly misogynistic.


In February 2007, movie mogul David Geffen was quoted in The New York Times: “Everybody in politics lies, but they [the Clintons] do it with such ease, it's troubling.…”


The New York Times was more than happy to print Mr. Geffen’s remarks because it suited its agenda.


The Clinton campaign responded by saying: “While Sen. Obama was denouncing slash and burn politics yesterday, his campaign's finance chair was viciously and personally attacking Sen. Clinton and her husband. If Sen. Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks…”


The mainstream media ignored Senator Clinton’s protests. It simply did not fit their agenda of promoting Senator Obama as Mr. Clean – a fresh new face who will change politics as we know it and save the world…


Although, the mainstream media did emphasize Senator Obama’s response: “It's not clear to me why I'd be apologizing for someone else's remark…”


Re-read and then clip for future reference the previous sentence as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Senator McCain have endured, and denounced inappropriate remarks uttered recently by increasing frustrated and angry supporters of the McCain-Palin campaign. The elite media insists that Senator McCain and Governor Palin are responsible for those inappropriate remarks.


Then in March 2007, the left erupted into rage when the Nevada Democratic Party decided to have Fox News co-sponsor a debate between Democratic presidential candidates. The mainstream media was only too happy to report the left’s unhappiness.


Yet, it was the same elite media that defended the choice of Gwen Ifill to moderate the recent vice-presidential debates in spite of the fact that she is writing a book, titled “The Age of Obama,” to be released January 20.


Conservatives cried foul. Liberals expressed outrage about the conservatives’ protests.


On August 24, Michael Calderone reported that an agitated Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) remarked: “Ladies and gentleman, the coverage of Barack Obama was embarrassing… It was embarrassing… MSNBC was the official network of the Obama campaign… absolutely embarrassing.”


The media indignantly scoffed at Governor Rendell’s position.


Of course, that was just before September 8 when MSNBC announced that it was replacing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as co-anchors of political coverage because of their unabashed bias demonstrated at the two national party conventions.


Many who are aware of the history – and the responsibility of the Democratic Party in the current economic crisis – could not agree more with David Limbaugh, who recently wrote:


“The Ifill affair is a minor example of MSM bias, however, when compared with their potentially election-determining coverage of the current financial crisis… that Democrats, though demonstrably responsible for the government actions that made this meltdown inevitable, would succeed in pinning it on Republicans – right before the election, no less.”


Of course, a heated debate over the accountability and responsibilities of the press is as old as the nation itself.


On January 16, 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Colonel Edward Carrington about the press. He remarked that the “basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the later.”


However, 20 years later on June 11, 1807, as his second term as president was nearing an end, President Jefferson wrote to John Norvell, of Danville, VA who sought advice about starting a newspaper:


“The man who never looks into a newspaper is better (in)formed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth that he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors… Divide the paper into four chapters: heading the 1st, Truths, 2nd, Probabilities, 3rd, Possibilities and 4th, Lies.”


Let’s hope it does not take our country 20 more years to demand greater accountability and responsibility from the major media outlets.


Let’s pray that the elite media does not steal the 2008 presidential campaign before Americans come to their senses as to the gravity of the choices to be made in the November 4 election.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:


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