Now that the primary nominations have finally been resolved, the candidates may refocus their attention across party lines and the familiar media drumbeat for the Democratic nominee will once again be heard throughout the dog days of summer.
I watched with interest, and a great deal of amusement, as the Clinton machine often received the short end of the ‘press coverage stick' throughout the primaries, but I have every confidence that business as usual will resume shortly and the universe will be returned to order and predictability (quantum theorists please excuse the generalization).
It's highly unusual for any Democratic figure to receive mainstream media scrutiny, much less, any coverage that could be perceived as even moderately negative, so I wanted to catalog some of the year's notable events for the sake of posterity.
Obama's questionable associations with former terrorist and outspoken critic of the United States, Bill Ayers, his relationship with Tony Rezko, who is currently facing federal charges of attempted extortion, money laundering, and fraud, his blatantly inflammatory remarks regarding this country as well as those of his wife, his Pastor of twenty years, Reverend Wright, paid campaign staffer and communist sympathizer Sam Graham-Felsen, and many others directly associated with the campaign are not even considered within the scope of this piece although they have not been given more than obligatory mention within the primary networks.
In a March memo to Democratic super delegates, founder of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, Walter Shorenstein stated: “I am absolutely outraged with the media coverage of the presidential campaign. This is the most important election in my long lifetime, and to quote one of my favorite movies, ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!’”
Shorenstein also added, "Is it in the country's best interest that voters received far more information about Hillary's laugh than Obama's legislative record? Is it good for our nation that more attention is paid to the differences in their speaking style than their healthcare plans?"
For the full report: click here
According to the Center for Media and Public Affairs, 84 percent of Obama's coverage has been positive compared to 51 percent for Clinton. The CMPA also touted the coverage of the much maligned FOX News Network as being the most balanced. This comes as little surprise to me but I've found that the vast majority of Democrats I speak with have a very negative impression of FOX despite the fact that they never watch the network.
"FOX's coverage of Hillary Clinton was evenly balanced — 50 percent positive and 50 percent negative and FOX was also twice as substantive as the broadcast networks. Almost one-third of all stories on FOX (30 percent) dealt with policy issues, nearly double the proportion (16 percent) on the networks. FOX also carried less coverage of the horse race and candidate tactics than any of broadcast networks." According to CMPA.
Brent Baker of the Media Research Center recently commented on the endorsement of John Edwards, saying "ABC, which on May 14 was so excited about the John Edwards endorsement of Barack Obama that its 6:30 p.m. feed of World News went live to Obama introducing Edwards — complete with a Bruce Spingsteen song as Edwards bounded on stage — on Tuesday night cut into Boston Legal at 10:08 p.m. EDT/9:08 p.m. CDT to go live for 14 straight minutes of a triumphant Barack Obama at a rally in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (CBS stuck with Without a Trace and NBC with Law & Order: SVU, though both ran Special Reports earlier to report Obama had secured the Democratic nomination.) After cutting away from Obama, ABC aired just over two minutes of excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s earlier non-concession address and then a minute-and-a-half from Republican John McCain."
Referring to a recent piece in Vanity Fair, Bill Clinton stated, “It’s part of the national media’s attempt to nail Hillary for Obama. It’s just the most biased press coverage in history. It’s another way of helping Obama.”
How is it that an overwhelming number of black voters for Obama is considered to be accepted and perfectly normal, yet a majority of whites voting for Clinton is translated as racism?
In addition to over-emphasizing the positive aspects of his future presidency, the mainstream media has also been remiss in their coverage of the numerous gaffes attributed directly to Obama.
Anyone over 25 must surely remember the crucifixion Dan Quayle received in 1992 over his inability to spell the word potato. Numerous stories and jokes about the event can still be found throughout the web even 16 years later, but how many have seen comparable coverage of Obama's recent assertion that he has campaigned in 57 of the 58 states? An interesting side note from the International Humanist and Ethical Union: "Every year from 1999 to 2005 the Organization of the Islamic Conference, representing the 57 Islamic states, presented a resolution to the UN Commission on Human Rights."
When addressing a Memorial Day crowd, Obama acknowledged the "fallen heroes" that were somehow present and watching his speech in the following quote: "On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes â€” and I see many of them in the audience today â€” our sense of patriotism is particularly strong."
When a report ran on CNN's Election Center the Obama sound bite had been changed to "On this Memorial Day, as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes, our sense of patriotism is particularly strong."
While campaigning in Sunrise, Florida, Obama said, "How’s it going, Sunshine?" and in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, he greeted the people of "Sioux City." After a heavy defeat in Kentucky, Obama claimed "I’m not very well known in that part of the country… Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known, coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it’s not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle." Geography may not have been my strongest subject, but doesn't Obama's home state of Illinois actually border Kentucky?
Well, so what? I would ultimately have to agree with Mr. Shorenstein's previous assessment that the media has much better things to focus upon, but the point of my argument is that had McCain made similar mistakes, the coverage would have been relentless and unforgiving.
There are numerous other examples of contradictions and outright mistakes, but the end result and virtual pass given by the news networks has been the same. The bias is widespread and the coverage remains consistently slanted whether the issues are related to actual policy, voting records or candidate "senior moments."
Rather than allowing the corporations (networks) of America to both select and then shamelessly promote our political candidates, we should be given the opportunity to decide for ourselves based upon a fair, accurate and timely presentation of the facts, but unfortunately that's not the way business is conducted in the modern political arena.
National anthem photo — Iowa campaign event
One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
- Sesame Street