Mainstream media, it is time for thy reckoning
Posted by sanityinjection on November 5, 2008
The election is over. America, both red and blue, will move on in reasonably good fellowship. But there is one lingering item from the election that needs to be addressed and must not be swept under the rug. That is the disgraceful, shameful, and nakedly partisan “reporting” by the mainstream media during the campaign, to the point that even Democrats and liberals felt compelled to denounce it.
Of course, the editorial boards would prefer to sweep it under the rug. “Hey, the election’s over, that’s all in the past, fuhgeddaboudit, we promise we’ll be extra fair from now on!” That must not be allowed to happen.
Let me be very clear what I am talking about. I am not saying that the media stole the election for Obama. Biased media coverage was only one among many factors aiding Obama’s candidacy, and he probably would have won without it. Nor am I suggesting that the media was too hard on McCain (with the exception of a few rags like the New York Times that have lost all journalistic credibility with their shameless tabloidism) – McCain was subject to about the same level of scrutiny as any recent Presidential candidate. Rather, I am simply arguing that time after time after time, the mainstream media either deliberately or passively failed to apply the same standards of reporting to both campaigns.
To give a couple of brief examples: How many times did newspapers and TV networks characterize McCain’s economic plans as “vague and lacking in specifics”, while failing to hold Obama accountable when he repeatedly evaded the question of which of his many new domestic programs would have to be delayed because of the economic crisis? Or how about this lament from the London Telegraph:
“After thousands of hours of oratory and interviews, we know more about Sarah Palin’s dress bills than Barack Obama’s foreign policy.”
I don’t recall ever hearing any reporters questioning who paid for Joe Biden’s suits or how much they cost – do you?
Each of these incidents, in and of itself, is small potatoes and you could make a case for overlooking it. But when you add up, over the course of months and months of columns, interviews, and live TV coverage, all those little incidents become a mountain of bias. And it does have an effect.
In the new Age of Obama, it is time for the American news media to grow up and accept responsibility for its actions. They wield great power, and with power must always come responsibility. Since in our free society we view the regulation of the press by the government as anathema (rightly), it is time for the media associations to get serious about holding accountable those members of their profession who shame and embarrass their colleagues by violating all the accepted standards of objective and reliable news reporting.
Unfortunately, I very much fear that, like the overgrown children whose behavior they mimic, they will decline to impose any limitations on themselves unless forced to do so. The only saving grace is that the growth of the Internet, with its endless diversity of news sources and blogs, continues to be a counterweight to any and all attempts to manipulate public opinion by controlling Americans’ access to information.