Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2008: The Year the National Media Self-Destructed

One of the saddest developments of the 2008 election is the death by suicide of the national news media. Any lingering questions of a liberal media bias have been laid to rest since the party conventions.

That the media is biased is not news to objective observers, who have been saying so for years. But this year’s fawning favoritism shown Barack Obama has caught the attention of everyday Americans, 49 percent of whom said in a Rasmussen poll last July they believed the media would slant their coverage toward Barack Obama in the race for the White House. They were right. Only 14 percent said they thought the media would benefit John McCain.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) 2008 Election News Watch Project confirms media favoritism for Sen. Obama in an October 14 statement. CMPA, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization affiliated with George Mason University, found that “since the party conventions kicked off the final phase of the presidential campaign, comments about Senator Barack Obama on the network evening news shows have been 65% positive, compared to only 36% positive comments about Senator John McCain.” CMPA also found that “despite a brief flurry of good press during the GOP convention, comments about [Alaska] Governor Sarah Palin have been only 42% positive.”

While the statement didn’t go into detail about the treatment of Gov. Palin when she came out of the blue to be John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, it was evident that the media didn’t know how to react, and resorted to spending time and ink on allegations against Gov. Palin’s husband and children, her newborn Down syndrome baby boy, and accusing her of being an unacceptably fundamentalist Christian.

And, it’s not only the news media that are biased, as late night comedians heaped ridicule upon Gov. Palin and John McCain along with the humor, and the two were more frequently the target of such humor than Sen. Obama and Sen. Biden. It is a sad commentary on American culture that millions of Americans allow late night TV to form or affect their political opinions, but that is reality.

From January through September of this year, CMPA found that John McCain was the butt of late night jokes 790 times to Barack Obama’s 502, 57 percent more often.

Sarah Palin only collected 185 jokes, but then she only came to prominence when she was named the VP candidate August 29. In September alone Palin was the subject of jokes 168 times, the most in a single month of all politicians in the report. Biden was the subject of jokes only 24 times in August and September combined.

An explanation of why Gov. Palin has attracted so much negative attention among comedians was explained by “The View’s” Joy Behar, an Obama worshiper reputed to be a comedienne herself, who told Larry King that Palin is a joke and has oodles of things to make fun of. Of Obama, she said, “he’s not funny; he’s not a joke. There’s nothing to make fun of with the guy.” Maybe it all depends upon your perspective, Ms. Behar.

The fawning and favorable treatment Sen. Obama and Sen. Biden have received must have lulled them into a sense of warm, fuzzy security, which perhaps explains the crazy events of last week.

Appearing on an Orlando, Florida television station Thursday, Sen. Biden was asked some pointed questions by WFTV anchor Barbara West. It is apparent from watching the interview that Mr. Biden expected to be asked the usual puffball questions he is accustomed to, and when Ms. West referenced the Karl Marx dictum “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” when asking if Senator Obama’s comment about “spreading the wealth around” was a socialist mechanism, Mr. Biden responded by asking, “Is this a joke? Are you joking? Is this a real question?” Told that it was a real question, the Senator laughed and then denied that Sen. Obama’s plan is “spreading the wealth around.”

Other appropriate questions were equally unappreciated, and the Obama-Biden campaign responded to this brazen act of responsible journalism by cutting WFTV out of future interviews during the campaign, the first of which was the cancellation of a scheduled interview with Sen. Biden’s wife Jill. This immature and petulant reaction strongly indicates that the campaign expects to not be asked tough questions by the media, and won’t stand for anything else. That reflects a troubling attitude that has no place in the White House.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects free speech, not the least of which is that of the press. It guarantees the press the freedom to tell the American people the unbiased and objective truth, and provide them the information to make sensible, informed decisions in life and in elections.

Through its disgraceful abandonment of its duty to the American people the media has been it’s own undoing, and perhaps that is justice of a sort.

But what do we do about its role in trying to elect a President of the United States, and how do we restore the media to its honorable and proper station?

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