Why the Media Coverage of the 2008 Presidential Election Sucked.
OK–maybe I’m a bit paranoid, but I definitely believe that there has been a vast left wing conspiracy afoot in the mainstream media for some time now. Now, if you all will bear with me, I believe that I can prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am right.
A few of nights ago, I was watching the O’Reilly Factor when Greta Van Susteren came on and stated that many journalist that she knew personally “were reveling with glee” at the news that Bristol Palin (the pregnant eighteen year old daughter of Sarah Palin) and her fiancé, Levi Johnston, were splitting up. At first, that sounded a little extreme to me, until I watched the following video (see embed below) from ABC News that ran on The O’Reilly Factor the following night after Van Susteren appeared. Bernard Goldberg hit the nail on the head perfectly when he called it embarrassing.
First of all, after watching that video, I noticed that the female anchor characterized it as an “exclusive interview” where they “found” Levi Johnston, and that he was “speaking out” for the first time. Well, actually, it looked to me like Good Morning America was stalking Levi Johnston and that they ambushed him in his pick-up truck, in the snow, when he was on his way to go work out at the gym.
Second of all, is this really the most important thing that Good Morning America could find to report on? Think about it for a second. They sent a reporter and a camera crew all the way to Wasilla, AK (which probably wasn’t at all cheap) to talk to Levi Johnston, during the biggest recession since the great depression (as the Obama administration is so fond of saying). Don’t any of you think that’s a little strange? Not to mention, it just reeked of pure meanness. It reminds me of that hilarious Saturday Night Live skit, with James Franco, where they made fun of the New York Times for obsessing over the Palin family and ignoring the mortgage crisis (they didn’t post the video on SNL, but I have the transcript). I mean, aren’t there more important people to sandbag right now than Levi Johnston? Couldn’t GMA have tied to embarrass Barney Frank or Chris Dodd who helped cause this recession, or Charlie Rangel who is in all kinds of hot water for tax fraud? On second thought, Neal Karlinsky (from GMA) probably would be afraid to confront Charlie Rangel, because Congressman Rangel would have told him to go mind his “own God-d**n business” (see embed below)–which, by the way, is exactly what Levi Johnston should have done, when Neal Karlinsky rudely stuck his head into Levi Johnston’s truck and asked him, in a very condescending tone, “What does he mean to you?” (referring to Johnston’s son), and then accusingly asked Johnston if he had a picture of his son with him in his truck.
And finally, at the end of this video, Neal Karlinsky starts to hypothesize about Levi Johnston’s future. Well, I think that Neal Karlinsky should be much more worried about his own future. I mean, when you’re stalking nineteen year old boys in the frigid Alaskan wilderness, you’ve pretty much hit rock-bottom and are in dire need of a support group in my opinion. (Hi I’m Neal, and I’m a douchebag who stalks teenage boys in the Alaskan wilderness. Then the group responds, “Hi Neal. Welcome to Douchebags Anonymous”–but I digress.)
Now, GMA stalking Levi Johnston over his and Bristol Palin’s child has reminded me of another “sex story” that took place last summer–the John Edwards sex scandal. However, if you all recall, the media covered the John Edward’s sex scandal quite differently than they covered the “Palin sex scandal”. For instance, The New York Times ran three front page cover stories in one day about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, but Clark Hoyt , the public editor, admitted that “the Times never made a serious effort to investigate the (Edwards) story“. Of course, Hoyt gave a bunch of lame excuses as to why the Times ignored the Edwards story such as, “Edwards-Hunter was never a Times like story” (oh, but three front page stories about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is a “Times like story”?), and that “by the time The Enquirer reported on its hotel stakeout, Edwards was no longer a presidential candidate (oh, but Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston were such big political power players). However, Hoyt admits that, “The Times was energetically going after the McCain story. It should have pursued the other story as well”. So, let me get this straight. The Times was willing to risk getting sued over the phony McCain sex scandal story, and was willing to run three front page stories about the pregnant teenage daughter of Sarah Palin in one day, but thought that the John Edwards story wasn’t a “Times like story”? Interesting. One more thing–the Times must have thought that the Bristol Palin/ Levi Johnston breakup was a “Times like story” because they reported on it here (like they were Bennifer or Brangelina ).
Oh, and not to be out-done by The New York Times, as far as squashing the Edwards story goes, The LA Times actually banned it’s bloggers from reporting on the Edwards scandal . Now did The LA Times ban its bloggers from reporting on the Palin/Johnston breakup? No they did not . Not to mention, who could forget the cover of US Weekly covering the Bristol Palin pregnancy titled “Babies, Lies and Scandal” (by the way, Wenner Media ,who publishes US Weekly, has given $5300 to the Obama campaign since 2007 , but I digress). OK, so did US Weekly run a similar cover story about the John Edwards sex scandal? Of course not. However, Michelle Malkin did write a hilarious blog titled, ”The US Weekly Cover You Didn’t See” .
On a side note, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter actually went on “Morning Joe” and tried to defend, with a straight face, the media going after Bristol Palin like vultures, but ignoring John Edwards–a twice presidential candidate and possible VP pick, or a possible Attorney General pick, for Barack Obama (News Busters has the transcript of Scarborough eviscerating Alter). Now, Alter’s pathetic excuse was that Edwards was no longer a presidential candidate when the story broke. Well, I guess Alter must have forgotten that the Edwards affair began in 2006, according to his own admission, just before Edwards announced his candidacy for President. Furthermore, a large part of the scandal was that John Edwards was making monthly payments to Rielle Hunter (when she lived in both NC and CA), as Byron York points out. Not to mention, The National Enquirer initially broke the story in October of 2007, and there was absolutely no follow-up by the MSM.
So, now the question has evolved from “Was the media biased in its 2008 election coverage?” to “Why was the media so biased in its 2008 election coverage?” Well, I have developed two theories in order to try to explain the glaring MSM bias that was so prevalent in the 2008 election coverage–and is still going on today.
My first theory is the JournoList theory. I’m sure that we’ve all heard about Michael Calderone’s (of The Politico) big story this week about the “JournoList”–which consists of several hundred left-wing bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, and policy wonks who have “talked stories and compared notes in an on-line meeting space” for the last two years. Calderone reports that the JournoList, or the JList for short, includes many staffers and writers from a plethora of MSM news outlets such as Newsweek, The Politico (Mike Allen, Ben Smith, and Lisa Lerer to name a few), The New Republic (including it’s senior editor John Judis and its associate editor Eve Faibanks), The New Yorker, The Nation (a very liberal magazine), and a bunch of left-wing bloggers from The Huffington Post, as well as far-left bloggers Ezra Klein (who is actually the founder of the Jlist) and Matthew Yglesias. Furthermore, the JList even counts as members several famous pundits, such as CNN’s Jeffery Toobin (who also writes for The New Yorker), Time Magazine’s Joe Klein, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (Frank Rich is also rumored to be on the JList, but it hasn’t been confirmed yet).
Now, how would this seemingly innocuous JList help to distort the 2008 election coverage? Well, I will give you some verbatim quotes from several JListers that I took straight out of the Politico article, and then I will read between the lines and translate them each and explain to you what these pundits and bloggers were really saying. For starters, John Judis, senior editor of The New Republic, described the JList as “a virtual coffeehouse where participants get a chance to talk and argue”. Well, I don’t know exactly how much real “arguing” actually goes on amongst JListers, because Judis admitted in another statement that, “There is a general agreement on the stupidity of today’s GOP”. Don’t get me wrong. I think that a JournoList of people from say The Nation, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, that also possibly included writers and bloggers from National Review, Redstate, The Minority Report–and even some pro-Hillary blogs like The Hillbuzz–might have been” a virtual coffeehouse where participants got the chance to talk and argue”–instead they wound up with a far-left cyberspace circlej**k.
Furthermore, New Republic associate editor, Eve Fairbanks, said of the JList that, “It’s sort of a chance to float ideas and toss them around and back and forth, and determine if they have any value and get people’s input before you put them on a blog”. And, by “determine if they (the ideas) have any value” and “get people’s input”, I think that what Fairbanks was really saying is that the people on the JList need to get each others APPROVAL (instead of “input”) before they write a column or a blog covering a news story. I’m sorry, but I can just hear their previous conversations now….”The John Edwards story is not a dignified or a “Times like” news story. It’s from The National Enquirer for God’s sake. Tell your people not to cover it.”…..”The Palins are white trash and are right wing, religious freaks. We must unmask them and their pregnant seventeen year old daughter–and we must get to the bottom of the story of their baby with Down‘s Syndrome.”…..”Anyone who discusses the Reverend Wright story is spreading the poison and is a racist”. Need a specific example? OK, here goes. Right after the Reverend Wright story initially broke, Joe Klein (a confirmed member of the JList) went on Anderson Cooper’s show, 360, and told Lanny Davis (the former Special Counsel to President Clinton) that he was “spreading the poison”, and that “an honorable person would stay away from this stuff” when Davis stated that the Reverend Wright story was something to legitimately be concerned about. (I guess, according to Joe Klein, an “honorable person“ would have stayed away from the John Edwards story as well, huh?) Now, I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Klein had spent the afternoon conversing with his fellow JListers who agreed with him that discussing the Reverend Wright story was “spreading the poison” and should not be covered. Then, Klein goes on 360 and spouts his JList talking points that anyone who dares mention Reverend Wright is “spreading the poison” and is not “honorable“, and then Anderson Cooper turns around and AGREES with Klein (he probably assumed that Klein was spouting the decided upon “conventional wisdom“) by asking the rhetorical questions, “Is this really important?… Should we really be talking about this?” (Yeah, like if Hillary Clinton or John McCain had attended a racist, anti-Semitic, Anti-American church for twenty years, the media wouldn’t be “talking about it”?)
Oh, and what’s more, Jeffery Toobin even admitted that one of his pieces in The New Yorker got it’s start via a JList conversation. Not to mention, The Nation’s Eric Alterman stated that he’s “seen discussions that start on the list seep into the world beyond”. Well, perhaps he’s talking about Jeffery Toobin’s embarrassing performance on CNN, after the news about Obama’s infamous bitter comments broke, that was chronicled on Newsbusters. Jeffrey Toobin was sitting on a panel with Gloria Borger and Jack Cafferty, on Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room“, when he was asked to comment on Obama’s infamous statements about rural Pennsylvanians. Toobin responded by stating that, ”What Obama said is factually accurate” and that “this is so ridiculous“. I’m not kidding–Toobin went on national television and stated that Obama was “factually accurate” in that rural Pennsylvanians are bitter, gun-clinging, Bible clinging, xenophobic racists. However, I will give Toobin the benefit of the doubt and say that he probably wouldn’t have gone on national television and said something so outrageously stupid, had everyone in his online Obama brainwashing cult not been previously regurgitating similar talking points. But, what’s even more outrageous is that Jeffery Toobin got everyone on Wolf Blitzer’s panel to AGREE with him (I guess the old adage is true after all–if people hear something enough, they think that it’s true). Jack Cafferty (who I happen to think is a few fries short of a Happy Meal) even went so far as say that, “They call it the Rust Belt for a reason….The people are frustrated. The people have no economic opportunity. What happens to folks like that in the Middle East, you ask? Well, take a look. They go to places like Al Qaeda training camps.” So, I guess Jack Cafferty thinks that the next 9/11 will be planned by unemployed PA steel workers, but I digress.
And finally, The Nation’s Eric Alterman was quoted as saying that, “I’m pretty lazy when I’m not getting paid”, and said of the JList that, “For me, it’s enormously useful because I don’t like to spend my time reading blogs and reading up to the minute political minutia. This allows me to make sure I’m not missing anything important”. OK, please allow me to translate Mr. Alterman’s statement for you all–”I’ve already admitted that I’m very lazy and doing actual research for my columns would take valuable time away from my playing Guitar Hero. In other words, the JList keeps me in the loop; therefore, I really can’t afford to piss off Ezra Klein and the other JListers (and possibly get kicked off of this list) by digging up dirt and doing some real reporting on St. Barack of Hope“.
[By the way, here is an interesting tidbit. After the PA debate during the Democratic primary--you know the one where they finally, for the first time, asked Obama some real questions (after he pretty much had the nomination sown up) that any twelve year old could have predicted that he would have gotten asked (the questions were about Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, and his bitter comments)--over 40 journalists and bloggers wrote a signed letter to ABC complaining about that debate. Well, Michael Calderone reports in his column about the JList (see previous link) that of the journalists who signed the letter, “many were JList members”. So you see, these JList members were even trying to influence what questions could and could not be asked of Barack Obama during the presidential debates.]
Oh, and on a side note, in January of 2008 (over a year ago at the beginning of the Democratic primary), Jonah Goldberg wrote a column where he quoted Ezra Klein, the founder of the JList, as saying about Obama that, “Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They do not even inspire. They elevate. He is not the word made flesh, but the triumph over flesh, over color, over despair”. Whoa. Alright, now who on the JList wants to be the skunk at the garden party? I mean, who in January 2008 wanted to bust Ezra Klein’s bubble by telling him any inconvenient truths about Barack Obama–like say that he had attended a racist, anti-American church for twenty years? That would be like telling your five year old nephew Ralphie that there was no such thing as Santa Clause. Who wants to be THAT guy? Not me. Therefore, I could see why people on the JList might be intimidated to have any real “arguments” concerning Barack Obama when the founder of the list refers to Obama as “the word made flesh”.
Here is one more thing. Goldberg also quoted The Atlantic’s Ross Douthat (who is rumored to be replacing Bill Kristol at The New York Times as the token conservative) as hilariously saying about Ezra Klein that, “He’s got a fever, and the only cure is more Obama” (see this Christopher Walken SNL video if you didn’t get the joke).
OK, so now it is an accepted truth that the media (including reporters who were and who were not on the JList) was in the tank for Barack Obama even before the Iowa caucuses. Jonah Goldberg noticed it (when he cited Ezra Klein’s “word made flesh” comment in the column that I just linked to) back in January of 2008. Not to mention, Chris Matthews made the phrase “tingle up my leg” famous back during the Democratic primary, and Saturday Night Live even performed a classic skit mocking the media love for Obama (see embeds of both videos below). Furthermore, The Washington Post even admitted that they had been biased in favor of Obama over McCain throughout the 2008 general election.
However, what has been under-reported about the 2008 election, is the high threshold for hatred and out-right nastiness that both Obama’s far-left supporters and his acolytes in the MSM exhibited towards all of Obama’s opponents–even their children. Don’t believe me? Well, here goes. Here is Keith Olberman yelling at the top of his lungs that Hillary Clinton wanted Obama assassinated, here is David Shuster saying that the Clintons were “pimping Chealsea out”, here is The NYT’s Bob Herbert falsely accusing both the Clinton and the McCain campaigns of running a “southern strategy“, here is Maureen Dowd trafficking in sexist stereotypes against both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, here is Andrew Sullivan stating that Sarah Palin should release her medical records in order to prove to everyone that her infant with Down’s Syndrome, Trig, is really her baby and not her daughter Bristol’s, here is Bill Maher also spouting the nonsense to Jeffery Toobin (yeah, him again) that Trig Palin is not Sarah Palin’s baby (it’s the third video on the blog), and finally, here is Frank Rich, in his column last Sunday (who never shies away from being an awful person), comparing Bristol Palin to a sexual predator, to a guy who allegedly used to have sex with prostitutes, and to a guy who allegedly likes to have sex in public bathrooms. I’m not kidding. In Rich’s column, in the tenth paragraph, Rich writes that the Republican party “has been rebranded by Mark Foley, Larry Craig, David Vitter, and the irrepressible Palins”–and if you click on the word “Palins”, you will see that it is a link to a picture of a pregnant Bristol Palin. Classy, huh?
Oh, and I almost forgot. Below is an embed of Bill Maher saying that he’s starting a “Free Levi Movement” where he is encouraging Levi Johnston to abandon his baby and let “the Paling women folk take care of it” and then adding that they will just give it “some F***ked-up redneck name” anyway. You stay classy, Bill (language warning for this video). Now, when you watch this video, take a look at the panel. You see who is on it? It’s fellow Trig Palin “truther” Andrew Sullivan. What is this anyway? The annual meeting of the tin foil hat club? But, I digress.
[On a side note John Kass wrote an excellent column last September, titled, “Politics Don’t Get Dirtier than Smearing a Pregnant Girl”. It is truly excellent. I highly recommend it. In the column, Kass discusses the Daily Kos bloggers that started the whole “Bristol is the mother of Trig” rumor (that the MSM ran with as fact) by stating that, “Reading it (the Daily Kos), you could almost hear the saliva dripping from their teeth as they typed anonymously”. Kass then further states that, “I don’t know if a Komodo dragon can type, but their mouths are so full of bacteria that if they bite your leg, you’ll likely die. This anonymous komodo was probably typing in mommy’s basement, perhaps with a bowl of Chex mix and a Diet Coke nearby”.]
So, now I think that the next obvious question to ask is why was the far-left and the MSM (redundant, I know) so nasty to anyone who had the audacity to run against Obama? Well, I think that Jonah Goldberg touched on it in a column that he wrote last summer called “A Messiah in Our Midst?” where Goldberg specifically writes that, “Lots of people have pondered the possibility that Barack Obama is our divine redeemer”. In order to back up his point, Goldberg specifically quotes Oprah Winfrey as calling Barack Obama “the One”, and as saying that, “We need politicians who know how to be the truth” and that, “Obama will help us evolve to a higher plane” (Goldberg also points out that Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the light”). Goldberg even mentions a website called “Is Barack Obama the Messiah?” in his column. Well, I took the liberty of checking out this website and of writing down some of the quotes that they document famous pundits, newspapers, and celebrities to have said about Barack Obama. Commentator@Chicago Sun Times said about Obama that he is, “not just an individual, but indeed an advanced soul”. Daily Kos said, “Does it not feel as if some special hand is guiding Obama on his journey, the utter improbability of it all”. Dinesh Sharma said, “Many even see in Obama a Messiah like figure, a great soul, and some affectionately call him Mahatma Obama”. The Chicago Sun Times said, “We just like to say his name. We are considering it as a mantra”. Jesse Jackson Jr. said that, “What Obama has accomplished is so significant that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance”. And finally, Chris Matthews said about Obama that, “This is bigger than Kenndy. This is the New Testament”. There are many more juicy quotes listed on the website (like the Ezra Klein “word made flesh” quote, and Oprah’s “unvarnished truth” quote), but I can’t possibly list them all here.
Anyway, reading all of this rhetoric deifying Obama has reminded me of this awesome video (embed is below), that Redstate’s Erick Erickson put on Redstate last summer. The video titled, “Building a Religion” consists of scenes of Obama and his campaign rallies set to a song titled “Comfort Eagle”, that was written and recorded in 2001 by the alternative rock band Cake.
Anyway, the reason why all of this Messiah stuff is so funny, is that, like most good satire, there is an element of truth to it–and it brings me to my second theory of what went so horribly wrong with the 2008 election coverage (and what is still wrong with the media coverage of Obama)–the Messiah theory. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people in the media literally worshipped Barack Obama (except for Chris Matthews, Bill Maher, and Andrew Sullivan). However, I don’t think that it’s too much to say that a lot of liberals in the MSM might have unconsciously put their faith in Barack Obama, so to speak, and viewed him as a source of salvation or redemption for some of America’s past sins, which could explain why many of the members of the MSM and many celebrities were so incredibly nasty to Obama‘s opponents–and even to their children and to a baby with Down‘s Syndrome. Think about it. If you criticize a politician that someone supports, well, they will probably just say, “Let‘s agree to disagree“. However, if you criticize a person that someone is “emotionally or ideologically invested in” (to quote Pat Buchana‘s description of how many members of the MSM felt about Barack Obam during the 2008 election), or that is viewed as a redeemer of some sorts, then you will more than likely elicit a much more nasty response from that person then if you just criticized a politician that they happen to support. And in a nutshell, that is what was wrong with the 2008 election coverage–many in the MSM media didn‘t view Barack Obama as an ordinary politician that they had to cover and investigate, but as a source of salvation that they had to promote and defend.
By the way, I might add, that it is always dangerous to put your faith (or look for “the Truth”) in another human being, because they will always eventually disappoint you. For example, if you wanted to put your faith in me, I would strongly advise against it and would warn that it would end quite badly for you. Not that I don’t try to be a good person–I do, but I am also a fallible human being with many flaws who constantly makes mistakes (just ask Steve Foley, George Claghorn, Caleb Howe, and Mike DeVine who I perpetually annoy to help me embed cornball videos on to my blogs for my own amusement)–oh, and by the way, so is Obama. In fact, he is already in the process of disappointing his followers by destroying business confidence (as our own Francis Cianfrocca (Blackhead) points out in his excellent column), by screwing up the stimulus bill, and by simply appearing to be in over his head (as Michael Wolff points out in his excellent column). In fact, just today, The Politico’s Jonathan Martin wrote a column titled, “Friendly Fire: NYT Hits Obama”, about how it is “unprecedented for him to get hit on the same day by columnists Frank Rich, Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd–and the paper’s lead editorial”. Martin further added that, “These are friendly voices that have been sympathetic, and even at times, gushing toward Obama during the campaign and in his administration’s early days”. But, what was most damning, was when Martin wrote that, “The sentiment, coming just two months after the President was sworn in, reflects elite opinion in the Washington-New York corridor that Obama is increasingly overwhelmed, and not fully appreciative of the building tsunami of populist outrage”.
So, in conclusion, the far-left and the MSM can only make excuses for Obama for so long. Eventually, they will run out of columns to write about Levi Johnston (the last time that I checked, he is not responsible for the economy), Rush Limbaugh, and bonuses going to “greedy AIG executives“ (that have been planned for months), and they will have to start covering the Obama administration for real–and they will probably be disappointed (he can’t possibly live up to the expectations that were set for him), and will turn on him. In fact Frank Rich, who last week wrote a column comparing Bristol Palin to a sexual deviant, wrote a column today about the Obama administration titled, “Has a Katrina Moment Arrived?”. However, I think that for the MSM to blame Barack Obama for their unethical journalism is a cop-out. In my opinion, they should blame themselves (which they probably won’t do) for thinking that by projecting all of their hopes on to, and by putting their faith into, an inexperienced Chicago politician, that they could somehow fill the void in their pathetically empty lives.
This diary is cross-posted on The Minority Report.