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The Myth of the Liberal Media and Obama’s “Free Ride”

I had a history professor in college who once baited a room full of wide-eyed freshman by asking us if the media was “liberal”. When we all nodded our heads in youthful agreement, he threw a textbook at the wall, pulled his hair (the guy was a kook) and screamed: “The media is owned by the largest corporations on the planet, why would they want to promote labor rights, regulation, or re-distribution of wealth?!”

Of course they wouldn’t. It’s one those rare moments in your life when you recognize that your whole way of looking at things has just changed.

I know there’s a strong belief to cast the mainstream commercial media as “liberal”. Well, on one hand if the media were to take its role as investigative check on elected power seriously, then by definition they would appear contrarian to anyone who considers themselves “conservative”, since conservatives have been the dominant political power for the last thirty years.

But as for a “liberal” bias: I don’t buy it.

I have a republican friend who’s a big McCain booster. This guy expends a lot of energy complaining about Obama’s free media ride and McCain’s daily barrage of criticism. OK, I will agree that McCain is getting pretty well blasted these days, and also that Obama is getting very good press.

But I will never agree that it’s a result of some kind of conspiracy out of the liberal media to elect Obama. Maybe it’s just an example of honest reporting.

Imagine that.

John McCain has run one of the most unbelievably poor campaigns in memory. Step by step he’s made blunder after blunder, from a self-announced “war on the media” to a selfishly unprepared choice for VP, to praising our economic fundamentals hours before an historic meltdown, to a gimmicky campaign “suspension” (while he continued to campaign), to his angry, eye-rolling and downright creepy debate performances. He’s also continued his relentless, disgraceful attack strategy even as the polls clearly showed an electorate grown weary of it. The amount of mistakes have been remarkable, frankly. I’ve never seen anything like it.

And at the same time Obama has been flawless. He’s shown not only that he can speak with great extemporaneous skill, and make almost no mistakes in doing so, but he’s exhibited a calm confidence befitting a man of much more experience, while expertly managing a national organization second to none. And he’s FINALLY shown the Democratic party a way to duck Rove-like attacks (like McCain’s attempt to attack Obama for not repudiating John Lewis’ comments even while McCain and Palin were guilty of that very thing. McCain’s punch at the last debate missed entirely, and made him look weak and whiny instead).

Meantime, the media – for once – is not taking the bait about baseless accusations like Ayers, which they ignore because it lacks the one thing a news story requires: The truth. My republican friend wants the media to attack Obama the same way they attack McCain because that would be “fair” and “balanced”. But the world is not a playground where everyone gets an equal number of marbles. Obama is not being attacked because there’s nothing obvious for the mainstream media to attack.

Can it be that the Fourth Estate has suddenly gained – wonder of wonders – integrity?

Well, I wouldn’t go quite that far. But it’s a great relief to see McCain getting the kind of honest coverage he so clearly deserves. Let’s hope it keeps up for the next three weeks.

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October 17, 2008   |  Filed Under Political   |    Permalink

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