So What?

Last night I linked to an article in The Politico by John Harris and Jim Vandehei in which they cheerfully admitted that they and the vast majority of the media were in the tank for Barack Obama. Their “defense” of that tankage?

“So What?”

Well, Jules Crittenden, a newspaperman, points to an opinion piece by another newspaperman, Michael Malone. Both see the deadly danger the press is in with its fawning coverage of Obama and active bias against McCain. Danger to both the profession they both have loved and to the nation itself as the media becomes a house organ of a political party. Malone:

The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I’ve begun — for the first time in my adult life — to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was “a writer,” because I couldn’t bring myself to admit to a stranger that I’m a journalist.


As for the bias, the fact that people have it isn’t what bothers me so much. Obviously I have my own. We all do. It’s the fact that they pretend they don’t, when they are nakedly exhibiting it. It isn’t entirely their fault. It is the American news convention, the charade we are all a part of. I don’t mind so much that major newspapers and networks are run and staffed by a bunch of Bush-hating, McCain-disparaging, Palin-bashing, Biden-ignoring Obama-lickspittles. That’s between them and their readers or viewers. I periodically hit them for being full of it, biased, even bordering on treacherous, but this is America and they have the right to be that way. It bothers me more when the Associated Press does it, because it is in violation of everything they are supposed to be, their obligation to their clients and their readers, and because this whole bogus American “objectivity” thing was their idea in the first place.

So what? So how bad is this all going to get if the media is nothing more than a pale imitation of Pravda? Very bad indeed. At a time when we most need a press with integrity, honesty and a willingness to dig out and publish hard truths we have a bunch of party hacks, PR men and propagandists.

God help us.

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11 Responses to So What?

  1. Lars Walker says:

    I think we’ve all noticed how pretty much any criticism of Obama is interpreted as racism. What will it be like in a (God forbid) Obama presidency, with a president who considers criticism of him a hate crime, and a press that backs him up on that?

    I’m not saying it’s bound to happen, but it sure looks possible to me.

  2. Sam L. says:

    That “pale imitation” is becoming more solid and colorful by the day.

  3. yuri says:

    come down, guys. I read Pravda back in the Soviet Union, and we’re not even close 😉

    Inspired somewhat by this blog I did something that I usually do not do – watched some TV. Looked at derided here MSNBC and Keith Olbermann. Wow. But for all the bias and unfairness, he didn’t strike me as “Pravda” type guy. He’s just a reflection of O’Reily and Hennety.

    So if NBC were loosing viewers because they didn’t want to tune in to hear Olberman, his show would have been off the air. Ditto for Hennety. So it’s not liberal conspiracy (after all, it’s Republicans who are in power), it’s just money.

    Now how do you maintain healthy diversity of media?
    You do something that Republicans so much opposed: make and enforce very strict regulation against media consolidation. See, sometimes you need teh government to protect ya 😉

  4. Jaded says:

    They can keep doing it BUT we ain’t buying it….they think they are smart and WE Americans are dumb and the reality is they are DUMB.

  5. Mwalimu Daudi says:

    Now how do you maintain healthy diversity of media?
    You do something that Republicans so much opposed: make and enforce very strict regulation against media consolidation.

    Not being one of yuri’s much-ballyhooed “smart people” I fail to see how his anti-consolidation position (whatever that means) would do anything except get the government’s finger in everyone’s business (“Are you big and successful? There is a room downtown without a view that waits for you!”). Media consolidation is not the problem. Media bias and flat-out lying is the problem.

    Besides – if it is merely a matter of needing the government to smash down anyone who is “consolidating” (and in the process somehow end up with “diversity”, whatever that means), there are already laws on the books to do so. Let’s say that I had a lobotomy, after which I finally saw the light and became a liberal Democrat. Let’s also say that I decided to run ads comparing Sarah Palin to Satan (not to be confused with ads comparing her to a whore, a porn star, and a right-wing fundamentalist Christianist theocrat, which is the MSM’s private bailiwick). If I am a private citizen, I have to comply with a large number of pesky campaign finance laws, or (if my name is George Soros) at least pretend to do so. But as a journalist whatever swill I put out would be “news” and (at the present time) outside the reach of the law. Maybe that is the loophole to be closed.

    If it’s government-guaranteed snoopi-, ah, accountability that you want, why not simply enforce McCain-Feingold against media companies as vigorously as against, say, certain swift-boat veterans and conservative churches and start hauling journalists into court for illegal campaign contribution? Most everything broadcast on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, and MSNBC “news” shows these days are thinly-disguised commercials for the Messiah anyway, so there is no lack of potentially illegal material (illegal, that is, if you take campaign finance reform seriously). Ditto for the major newspapers.

    It would do wonders for fighting the evils of “consolidation” (since a lot of folks would be in the slammer and the rest would be too afraid to think about expressing an opinion), although it probably would not do squat for “diversity”. But hey! You cannot have everything, and that is McCain’s fault anyway.

  6. yuri says:

    Wow, Daudi, so you think that having just a handful of media outlets controlled by large corporations like Dow Jones Company, or GM, or tycoons like Murdoch is actually good?

    I actually think that it is this conglomeration that forced the merger of news analysis and entertainment, led to attention-span-challenged coverage and all that.
    It’s local independent newspapers and TV/radio stations that have been almost wiped out of existence.

    Sure, no-one wants the government to control the message. But no control over the messengers leads to corporately controlled message, like the one from GM that you do not like.

    Blogs & Internet could save the situation, but they are still years away from being a trully competative with TV in this country. And if we do not regulate, Internet will end up as corporate as TV. How do you like that your blog doesn’t load very fast if Verizon disagrees with your message, eh?

    (As a sideline, I find your fears of snooping quite endearing, given what the current REPUBLICAN administration had been doing)

  7. martian says:

    A free press is essential for the survival of a Democracy. A press that is nothing more than the main propaganda arm of one single party and its leader is a death knell for Democracy. We have several examples in the last century – Nazi Germany and the USSR come to mind. Unfortunately, moreso than at any other time in my lifetime (and I ain’t young), we have a press that is the propaganda arm of the rather poorly named Democratic Party. The future looks to be a leak and frightening place if the Obamessiah wins next week.

  8. yuri says:

    “A press that is nothing more than the main propaganda arm of one single party and its leader is a death knell for Democracy.”

    no argument here!

    It seems that you see the current balance in the media as Democratic party taking over the media, and I see it as a media reflecting the mood of the country which is pissed at Republicans who squandered six years of unchecked power.

    Plus, I’m not even sure that the balance is *THAT* skewed. I was disgusted with what I saw of Olbermann. But he insulted my intelligence in the same way O’Reily and Limbough do. So the SPECTRUM of opinion is still all there, it is the AVERAGE that now shifted towards the left. As it did towards the right around 2002. And many times before that.

    I do feel you fear though. I am deathly afraid of this country being led by Palin. And I think analyzing this fear is what we need to find common ground. Because it’s exactly this fear that politicians are so capably exploit.

  9. Bleepless says:

    Uvy, Yuri, ne zagovor kapitalistov no podkultury. That is why antitrust legislation would not work. You could have a widespread ownership — indeed, like now — and still have one opinion only — like now — if people hire, promote and print their drugy only — like now.
    It not only is clear that you used to (and still do?) read Pravda, but that you learned your every opinion therefrom and never have changed your mind at all.
    Ura, tovarishch! Leonid Ilich zhivaet!

  10. martian says:

    The media is not just “reflecting the mood of the country”. They are deliberately SLANTING their reports in favor of the Obamessiah and against McCain. They are deliberatley ignoring anything that might reflect negatively on the Chosen One and twisting anything and everything said by McCain/Palin with a negative slant. They are supporting outright falsehoods perpetrated by The One and his campaign dummy, I mean VP choice, Joe Biden both for their own campaign and against McCain. No, yuri, I don not fear this country being led by Palin – she at least has some personal integrity. What I fear is this country being not led but dictated to by the Obamessiah and a Democrat dominated Congress and the real damage they could do to our republic and democratic way of life.

  11. yuri says:

    martian, look, what is the motivation for “deliberately slanting”?

    I watched some MSNBC, and I agree they are biased.
    But I also watched some FOX, and they are equally biased in the other direction. They all are motivated mostly by their network’s financial bottom line.

    Now reasonable and rational people can argue and disagree whether the $700B bailout of the banks is “spreading the wealth around” or not. And if McCain was for it, is “spreading the wealth” only bad when it goes to the poor. But this is not the point!

    The point is this fear that I have of Palin and you of Obama. THAT is not rational. It is absolutely beyond the realm of rational to think that an elected politician in this country can want to intentionally damage it. Even G.W. Bush, I hate to say it, did the damage mostly by incompetence.

    And this fear is something that politicians are very skillful at exploiting. And then they can get away with incompetence, by just playing us against each other…

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