Shooting the messenger

Call it a bounce, call it the inaccuracy of polling, but more than a few Barack Obama supporters are sweating bullets now that polls are showing that the Republicans aren’t just going to hand the White House over.

Somebody must be blamed. Former Saturday Night Live writer Adam McKay has found just the suspect — the press.


What is this house advantage the Republicans have? It’s the press. There is no more fourth estate. Wait, hold on…I’m not going down some esoteric path with theories on the deregulation of the media and corporate bias and CNN versus Fox…I mean it: there is no more functioning press in this country. And without a real press the corporate and religious Republicans can lie all they want and get away with it. And that’s the 51% advantage.

Think this is some opinion being wryly posited to titillate other bloggers and inspire dialogue with Tucker Carlson or Gore Vidal? **** that. Four corporations own all the TV channels. All of them. If they don’t get ratings they get canceled or fired. All news is about sex, blame and anger, and fear. Exposing lies about amounts of money taken from lobbyists and votes cast for the agenda of the last eight years does not rate. The end.

Blink. Blink.

sherman-peabody.jpgEnter the wayback machine. Let’s dial in last Wednesday evening. Destination: St. Paul.


“But here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion – I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people.”

That was Sarah Palin, of course, rescuing the good ship McCain.

And it worked, according to the Rasmussen polling firm:


… fully 68% of voters believe that “most reporters try to help the candidate they want to win.” And — no surprise — 49% of those surveyed believe reporters are backing Barack Obama, while just 14% think the media is in the tank for Sen. McCain.

Conservative commentator James Pinkerton see the same reality in the evils of the media, that his ideological opponent — McKay — sees:


In seeking to rally a majority of the voters, McCain has put forth a clear definition of the elite: It’s the media, including all those who make up the “chattering class” of commentators, think tankers, opinion leaders, and activist socialites. This is a significant shift for McCain, who once cultivated those same chatterers; as recently as three years ago, he could joke that the press was “my base.” But over the past few years, he seems to have figured that being the liberals’ favorite conservative–appearing on the cover of Esquire magazine, guest-hosting “Saturday Night Live”–was fun, but that was no path to the White House.

In a story today, Time Magazine says a review of press coverage of the two candidates found 31% of the stories about Obama rated as “negative,” only slightly less than the 38% described as negative about McCain.

A quote in that story from a GOP strategist, however, is worth noting:


“Attack the media is what you do when you’re losing.”

If both camps are laying into the press, who’s winning?

  • CaliGuy

    Well, Bob, I think the media DOES do a HORRIBLE job in reporting on political polls.

    More often than not, the mainstream media focuses on national polling information (like you did at the start of your post).

    However, the Presidential election is NOT a national referendum — it is a state-by-state election culminating in the Electoral College.

    Thus, national polls are MEANINGLESS. But, the mainstream media goes to this well all the time.

    So, you tell me: who’s being unreasonable?

  • bigalmn

    You have got me going today Bob. I say you and all the other bloggers are winning. We have not seen this interesting of a discussion of a Presidential race in a long time. Obama has the youth activated, Palin has the white women activated.

    Maybe this year for the first time the nation will be voting. In Costa Rica, you have to prove you have voted to keep your driver’s license. The get 98% to vote which only proves it is more important to be able to drive in Costa Rica than it is to vote in America.

  • Bob Collins

    //More often than not, the mainstream media focuses on national polling information (like you did at the start of your post).

    That’s not a focus, that’s a mention. Besides, I’ve mentioned this site plenty of times.

    But if you look close there, you’ll see plenty of confirmation that Obama isn’t about to be given the White House. As in previous elections, a handful of states will decide the election, and in those states, the race could go either way.

    But that has very little to do with the post.

  • Bob Collins

    //Maybe this year for the first time the nation will be voting.

    That’s a whole different thread, Al, but would democracy really be helped by requiring everyone to vote? Unless, of course, there were a similar requirement that everyone know about the people they’re voting for.

  • bigalmn

    I have my I voted sticker on and it is amazing how many people that I have run into today that did not know we have a primary today. How does the media or the government get these masses to care and to vote?

    You would think in the midst of all that is going on today that it would wake some more people up and get them caring about how their country operates.

    It usually takes something personal, like losing a driver’s license before anyone even bothers to vote – uninformed or not.

  • bsimon

    “If both camps are laying into the press, who’s winning?”

    Follow the money.

    McCain gets $84 million from the gov’t for his campaign, which will be spent largely on ads. I’ve lost track of how much Obama has raised, but that money, too, is largely spent on ads.

    The media is winning and we, the people, are losing.

  • MR

    Bob,

    I see the Time quote as:

    “A review of 17,455 print stories between July 7 and Aug. 17 by the news-clip warehouse LexisNexis found that Obama received 38% more coverage than McCain. The tone of the coverage, the analysts concluded, was “remarkably similar,” with about 31% of the Obama coverage categorized as “negative” compared with 33% of the McCain coverage.”

    So Obama is simply getting more coverage, it’s not necessarily more positive.

    Attacking the media is easy, it doesn’t require proof, and nobody will step up to defend the media. The American public is very into the perception of fair play, so anytime it seems like your guy isn’t getting a fair shake, it energizes the people most likely to give money and volunteer time.

    Why wouldn’t both sides do it? It works.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Since Palin’s speech she has repeated the LIE that she opposed the Bridge to Nowhere 23 times, this despite the fact that there are two completely separate video clips showing her asserting her support for the Bridge to Nowhere. Until the media responds to Palin’s lies as aggressively as she’s putting them out there, it is both the media and the Republican party whose credibility will be permanently damaged.

    Whatever bump you get in the polls from lying 24/7 will vanish just as soon as the media starts reporting on Palin’s lies as aggressively as they did in 2000 when the same media played willing accomplices to the smears of Al Gore as a liar. Gore’s “lies” were all proven true, Palin’s truths are all proving to be lies. Why can’t MPR be upfront about that? What we your readers think is monumentally unimportant compared to the fact that you are watching this woman repeat her lies, but continuing to think that calling her on it once or twice is all your job description calls for.

    Each time she lies, you need to call her on it, even if it’s just the same lie over and over and over again. It’s called being a journalist!

  • Bob Collins

    //Until the media responds to Palin’s lies as aggressively as she’s putting them out there, it is both the media and the Republican party whose credibility will be permanently damaged.

    I was listening to MPR on the way home last night and the reporter was specifically asked if this was again put forth by Palin. The reporter said it was, word for word, and then they again debunked it.

    And yet, people are continuing to spread the lie that the media is not pointing this out.

    Here, here, here, here and goodness knows how many other places.

    The foundation of the argument seems to be that the media is to blame for not working as hard to defeat McCain-Palin as the supporters of Obama would like. The McCain-Palin folks, of course, would have a big chuckle over there complaint, which is the original point, of course.

  • bsimon

    “Each time she lies, you need to call her on it, even if it’s just the same lie over and over and over again. It’s called being a journalist!”

    Sometimes it takes the media a while to figure out the story line. As Bob points out, more and more outlets are starting to pick up on Palin’s repeated use of a line that is not entirely true.

  • Bob Collins

    And the first stories appeared in the MAINSTREAM media on August 31. Before she even gave her speech in St. Paul.

  • Mark Gisleson

    Again, as of this afternoon Palin has repeated her Bridge to Nowhere lie 23 times. Has NPR debunked that lie 23 times? I heard that clip also Bob. That was ONE newscast.

    Does NPR have the stones to call out McCain-Palin EVERY DAY until they stop repeating that lie? Or can McCain-Palin win the right to lie to the American people through sheer dint of repetition? Where in your post up above do you mention that some of the Palin bounce might be courtesy of the lies she’s been telling? Nowhere, yet she told several whoppers, not to mention laying on the sarcasm heavily. Al Gore sighed in 2000, and the media crucified him. Sarah Palin stood up before God and country and waved her arms around and lied over and over again and the media turned right around and apologized for not having factchecked the bloggers’ rumors about Trig.

    You bait your readers by framing this as he said-she said. Reread your own post: rude SNL writer (i.e., assumed to be a liberal altho SNL’s produced MANY conservatives like Tina Fey and Dennis Miller) vs. the McCain campaign. What? You couldn’t find an actual Obama surrogate to quote? What is the purpose of this post, other than to buffer the rude reality that McCain-Palin tell lies?

    Palin repeated her lie today, but I haven’t heard one word about that on NPR. Just Mara Liasson spreading more disinformation. I guess Palin/Karl Rove wins — isn’t that the message here? Keep repeating the lie and America will believe you because the media will tire of correcting you after a day or so.

    If NPR was doing its job, a majority of Americans wouldn’t think that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. As is, we would be better off with NO media, instead of struggling on with the media we have. The Republican candidate for Vice President is lying to the American people on a daily basis. Which news stories are you covering that are bigger news than that?

  • Mark Gisleson

    Here’s a video example of how the media can fight back when one party decides to denounce the media to create a smokescreen to hide their duplicity. Chris Matthews has many, many, many faults, but if the rest of the media dealt with Bridge to Nowhere lies like Hardball did, Palin would stop making this false claim immediately.

    In 2000 Karl Rove used the media as a doormat. In 2004, the media protested the swiftboating. Not a lot, but anything was an improvement. In 2008 will the media call out the lies forcefully enough to make it a bad campaign strategy? Or will they acquiesce again, making it certain that we’ll have more of the same in 2012?

    My money’s on balance to defeat truth, again.