« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

MEMBER DIARY

A Tankful of Reporters

When Cheerleading Is News

Beauties come in ‘bevies.’ Geese come in ‘gaggles.’ Here’s one that was new to me: Reporters come in ‘tankfuls.’

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey found that 49% of voters believe most reporters will try to help Obama with their coverage, up from 44% a month ago.

Just 14% believe most reporters will try to help John McCain win, little changed from 13% a month ago.

Concerning whether people think reporters bend the truth in pursuit of their personal agendas:

  • 45% say that most reporters would hide information if it hurt the candidate they wanted to win. Just 30% disagree and 25% are not sure
  • A separate survey released this morning also found that 50% of voters believe most reporters want to make the economy seem worse than it is. A plurality believes that the media has also tried to make the war in Iraq appear worse that it really is.

The good news for reporters is that the proximate cause for this result could arguably be the decision by all three network news divisions to provide onsite cheerleading services during Senator Obama’s “Ich bin ein Beginner” Congressional fact-finding mission and campaign extravaganza. The bad news for reporters is that the exciting and newsworthy dispatches from abroad hadn’t even aired when this poll was taken, which means that most people interviewed probably didn’t know that all three network news anchors have signed on as embeds in the Obama campaign. Just wait until that gets reflected in these numbers.

We know that the coverage of Obama’s campaign stops in France and Germany are exciting and newsworthy because major figures in the media have assured us that this is so:

"The press may or may not have a bias in favor of Obama but it definitely has a bias in favor of being with the frontrunner at a particular moment in time," the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank told MSNBC.

“We’re just trying to do our jobs,” [NBC News president] Capus said. “There’s no question that there’s great news value in Sen. Obama’s trip overseas. That’s why we are doing this.”

Listen to these people. They’re living in an alternate Universe… one where everyone is a liberal Democrat. Three-quarters of Republicans, half of Independents, and even a quarter of Democrats believe that “reporters” who tell us “news” are promoting Obama and would lie on his behalf. Yet people in the news media insist that this is not so; they really believe that fawning over their favorite candidate constitutes a responsible job of covering the news. These are the same people who will later profess puzzlement when they learn that The Press ranks right down there with Congress and the Pre-Owned Automobile Industry on the public’s list of most untrustworthy institutions.

Will all the biased coverage lead inexorably to a Democratic victory in the Fall? I think it’s likely to turn out just the other way. People aren’t stupid; they’ll correct for the reporters’ cheerleading behavior by adding Republican windage to everything they read and hear from “reporters.” The more biased the reporters seem, the more corrective adjustment voters will add to what reporters say. The promotion of Obama by the press is therefore as likely to benefit McCain as hurt him. It may also cause voters to re-assess the “damage to the Republican brand” that “reporters” are always “reporting” on. If “reporters” can’t be trusted — if everything they say has to be considered a form of Obama campaign literature — perhaps Republicans deserve another look.

Get Alerts