MSNBC, CNN, New York Times, Washington Post and every paper in Chicago wants Obama to President so badly that they making every effort to enusre that John McCain wins by a landslide. You see - most news readers and keypunchers in the Media have absolutely no idea about Americans - you and me. Most keypunchers with bylines are fed their stories by political stooges - let's say a dwarfish Cook County Commissioner wants Abner Nimblefinger to write an edgy expose on systemic corruption. Abner is treated to university think-tankers and professors who printout pages of gobble-dee-gook which Abner pees his britches to print. That is the state of news papers.
The TV readers skwak out whatever is put in front of them and then participate in political round-tables redacting exactly what they had read.
Obama has it made. Example, Steve Hayes writes,
According to the press, in recent weeks, the McCain campaign has so distorted Obama's record and campaign proposals that the young senator has had no choice but to fight back with old-school tactics. "McCain's tactics are drawing the scorn of many in the media and organizations tasked with fact-checking the truthfulness of campaigns," wrote Politico's Jonathan Martin. "In recent weeks, Team McCain has been described as dishonorable, disingenuous and downright cynical."
And so while McCain's every utterance is factchecked and factchecked again in an attempt to shame him from challenging Obama too aggressively, Obama gets a pass.
Consider two examples.
On August 16, Pastor Rick Warren asked John McCain how much money someone would have to make to be considered rich. McCain didn't answer directly. "I think that rich should be defined by a home, a good job, an education and the ability to hand to our children a more prosperous and safer world than the one that we inherited," he said.
Then he made a joke: "So, I think if you are just talking about income, how about $5 million?"
The audience laughed, immediately understanding that McCain was being facetious. Just in case there were any doubts McCain started his next comment by saying "seriously," to underscore the joke. Then he made a prediction.
"I'm sure that comment will be distorted," he said with a shrug of his shoulders.
And it has been. "It should come as no surprise that John McCain believes the cutoff for the rich begins at $5 million," Barack Obama's campaign said in a statement. "It may explain why his tax plan gives a $600,000 tax cut to the richest 0.1 percent of earners." At a campaign appearance two days after McCain made the comments, Obama himself mocked McCain. "I guess if you're making $3 million a year, you're middle class," Obama said.
Some news accounts noted that McCain was joking and others even reported that McCain predicted his words would be twisted and used against him. In an August 18 article in the Los Angeles Times, Greg Miller actually did both and noted that McCain aides had made clear their boss was joking. "Even so," Miller wrote, "the remark highlighted the candidates' disparate outlooks. Analysts who study income distribution said the answers appeared to reflect shifting political calculations more than economic reality."
So Miller, writing under the headline, "Who's Rich? McCain and Obama have very different definitions," used McCain's facetious answer as if he had meant it. (Miller also speculated that Cindy McCain's family money may have shaped McCain's views of what constitutes rich.) Not only was Obama not called on his misuse of McCain's comment, reporters piled on. Is it any wonder that the line has made regular appearances in Obama speeches over the past month?
"Now, I don't believe that Senator McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans," Obama said in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. "I just think he doesn't know. Why else would he define middle-class as someone making under $5 million a year?"
Then there are the absurd lengths to which some reporters are willing to go to protect Obama and attack McCain. Last week, the McCain campaign released an ad accusing Obama of being too close to Fannie Mae executives. In particular, it claims Obama took advice on housing and finance issues from former Fannie Mae chairman Franklin Raines. The Obama campaign protested, saying that Raines was not an adviser and had not given Obama counsel in any capacity. The McCain campaign defended the claim by citing an article that ran in the Washington Post on July 16, 2008. That article noted that Raines had "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters."
Last Friday, the Washington Post "factchecked" the McCain ad and concluded that the campaign had been "clearly exaggerating wildly" in order to link Obama to Raines and that the "latest McCain attack is particularly dubious."
Factchecker Michael Dobbs wrote that McCain's evidence that Raines had advised Obama was "pretty flimsy"--not a description that probably endeared him to Anita Huslin, the reporter who wrote the story this summer. But Dobbs did talk to Huslin. Here is his account of their conversation:
Since this has now become a campaign issue, I asked Huslin to provide the exact circumstances of the quote. She explained that she was chatting with Raines during the photo shoot, and asked "if he was engaged at all with the Democrats' quest for the White House. He said that he had gotten a couple of calls from the Obama campaign. I asked him about what, and he said 'oh, general housing, economy issues.' ('Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific,' I asked, and he said 'no.')"
By Raines's own account, he took a couple of calls from someone on the Obama campaign, and they had some general discussions about economic issues.
Got that? Huslin stands by her reporting--that Raines had given advice to the Obama campaign about mortgage and housing policy matters--and yet the McCain campaign is faulted by the Washington Post for relying on information that comes from the Washington Post.
More amusing, though, is that in the rush to accuse the McCain campaign of lying, Dobbs glosses over a major discrepancy between the story that appeared in his paper and that of the Obama campaign. Obama spokesman Bill Burton claims that the campaign "neither sought nor received" advice from Raines "on any matter." It is possible, of course, that Raines simply made up the conversations he described to the Post reporter. But it seems more likely, given the toxicity of Raines, that the Obama campaign would simply prefer that those conversations had never taken place.
Dobbs concludes: "I have asked both Raines and the Obama people for more details on these calls and will let you know if I receive a reply."
That's reassuring, since Dobbs has already decided that the McCain campaign has been dishonest. Two things are clear with six weeks left in the presidential race. Barack Obama will practice the old-style politics that he lamented throughout the Democratic primary. And the media will give him a pass.
Now, Americans read, remember and react. We remember that Obama was our State Senator and was a nice unaffected empty suit. Now he bills himself as the Rail-Splitter? Nope. That Don't Sell. Hoss.
Then along comes a genuine person - not a War Hero or Maverick, but a Hockey Mom with five kids and genuine talent. The Media recoils at authenticity.
The media, though, has done more than simply subject Palin to questions not given to the other candidates. More importantly, it has been running interference for the Obama campaign, questioning McCain’s attacks on Obama while frequently reinforcing Obama’s on McCain.
Take a couple of examples from last week. McCain ran an ad criticizing Obama’s support for sex education for kindergartners. Seventy percent of the 2,774 news stories on McCain’s ad mentioned that the ad was a “lie” or “inaccurate.” The stories’ headlines indicate that if other ways of disparaging the McCain ad were included, this percentage would probably be much higher.
Obama’s supporter defend the legislation, saying that its purpose was to protect children from sexual abuse. True, the bill proposed teaching children not to talk to strangers, but one wonders if reporters actually read the entire bill. For example, the legislation also included this: “Each class or course in comprehensive sex education offered in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.” How can you teach how to prevent these different sexually transmitted diseases without getting into some details about sex?
By the way, a grand total of 22 out of 2,774 stories that mention the bill include this discussion of HIV transmission, and many of those stories were still negative about McCain.
For a more direct comparison regarding Palin, look at how the media discussed the whole lipstick-on-a-pig story. The majority of media coverage again questioned the accuracy of the ad that the McCain campaign used to strike back at Obama (using words such as “inaccurate,” “false,” “misleading,” “untrue,” and “lie”). Obama says that he was surprised that anyone could think he was referring to Palin when he said: “you can put lipstick on a pig; it’s still a pig," that the direct reference was to Bush’s policies.
But there are a few problems with Obama’s response. First, his audience thought he was referring to Palin. They started laughing and shouting after he said, "You can put lipstick on a pig," before he even got to the punch line. The AP wrote: Obama's "audience, clearly drawing a connection to Palin's joke." ABC’s Jake Tapper wrote that audience members told “reporters that they thought Obama had been alluding to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s” lipstick line. Politico noted: "Though on a day when Obama's surrogates were joking that Palin's record can't be concealed with lipstick, it was hard for those following the campaign not to hear the echo." The crowd also started chanting “No more pit bull,” indicating that the crowd got the reference to Palin’s quip at the Republican convention.
A Google news search found only 20 stories out of 6,074 mentioned the crowding laughing or shouting, and only two of those mentioned that they laughed or shouted before the punch line was given. Another search found only one single news story by US News & World Report that even mentioned both Obama’s lipstick joke and the crowd chanting “no more pit bull!”
Whatever Obama’s original intent, it would have been hard for him to claim that he was surprised that the McCain campaign would also draw the connection between his joke and Palin. Nor is it clear why he didn’t make a statement given the crowd’s reaction.
In Palin’s case, far from trying to protect her, the press frequently doesn’t even acknowledge that there might be arguments to be made in her favor.
-- The Bridge to Nowhere. The Alaska Democratic Party posted a Web page in which it declared that “State of Alaska killed bridge” -- that is the “Bridge to Nowhere.” However, after Palin’s vice presidential nomination the party took down the Web page. Yet, out of 7,556 news stories on the Bridge to Nowhere this month, a Google news search produces no hits on the phrase “State of Alaska killed bridge.”
Similarly, Sen. Ted Stevens, who was the king of the earmarks for Alaska and who had a “frosty” relationship with Palin because of her opposition to those earmarks, noted that “I don’t remember her ever campaigning for it. She was very critical of it at the time.” With all the news stories on this question, one would think that Stevens’ comment would be newsworthy, since it was his pork-barrel project. But there were only three news stories that mention his statements.
-- Cutting Earmarks. The media on this question has definitely been a bunch of “the glass is half empty” types. Instead of noting what Palin had accomplished, the game was identifying any earmarks that Alaska still received. Palin “cut nearly 10% of Alaska’s budget this year” and reduced the number of federal grants from 54 in 2007 to 31 in 2008 -- a $350 million, 64 percent cut in requests. Among the cuts in Alaska budget were a $30,000 van for Campfire USA and $200,000 for a tennis court irrigation system. Further cuts in future years were also promised.
But those changes weren’t the standard by which the media wanted to judge Palin. For example, Charles Gibson thought that he had gotten Palin in his interview when he noted that Alaska still got “$3.2 million for researching the genetics of harbor seals, money to study the mating habits of crabs” from the federal government.
Again, a simple Google news search shows how incredibly lopsided this coverage has gotten. From September 1 to September 15 there were 9,222 news stories that discuss Palin and earmarks. By contrast, a search that looked at Palin and her attempts to cut earmarks (using the terms "cut earmarks," "reduce earmarks," "trim earmarks," "slash earmarks" or "eliminate earmarks") produced incredibly only 50 news stories -- about 0.5 percent of the total stories. Even many of those 50 stories were critical and claimed that McCain had overstated Palin’s opposition to earmarks.
I spent some time looking at questions of whether Palin was properly vetted or the taxes that she imposed on oil companies, but the results were similar. Palin just doesn’t seem to get an even break, let alone the extremely protective news coverage offered Obama.
Groups such as FactCheck.org have helped put down many false rumors on everything from Palin supposedly cutting funds for special needs children to banning books, but the coverage that corrects these false claims never seems to be as heavy as the coverage making the claims to begin with.
Possibly there is a good explanation for why the media so selectively covers the two campaigns so differently. But whatever the reasons, Sarah Palin continues to receive significantly less positive coverage than the Democrats.
The Media is making sure that McCain/Palin wins the largest landslide victory in American Presdential History. With rehab and has-been Hollywood persons and the media against you, how can you fail?
E.G. Steve Hayes writes,
Stephen F. Hayes, a senior writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD, is the author of Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President (HarperCollins).