Every political party has its bogeymen. The left live in fear of finding one of the Koch brothers in the bedroom closet or a Diebold machine in the voting booth. The right fears the media. Now that the primary field is being whittled down to plausible and implausible candidates, a cry is rising from the implausible and their supporters that the media, not the voters, are choosing the GOP candidate for president.
Michele Bachmann just weighed in on "Debategate," telling Whispers that the media is trying to pick the Republican presidential winner, cutting voters out of the process.
"There's always a suspicion of maybe a bias and I guess this just confirmed it," she said of a CBS memo before Saturday's debate, which suggested that the Minnesota Republican congresswoman would be ignored during the foreign policy chatfest.
The memo, she said, "demonstrates that the media wants to choose who our nominee will be and who the next president of the United States will be."
After Herman Cain's EPIC editorial board session with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, his supporters are making the same claim.
This is just wrong. While I wouldn't deny that the media favors candidates of both parties in a flavor-of-the-week style, I've seen no evidence that they are terribly successful or adept at actually picking them. In 2000, John McCain was the media favorite. In 2008, Mitt Romney held that mantle. For 2004, John Kerry was the triumph of electability as the media swooned in quick succession over John Edwards, Wesley Clark, and Howard Dean.
Bachmann's argument seems to believe that the little attention paid to her in the last debates is an effort by the media to crush her candidacy. To the contrary, the little attention paid to her is a function of her campaign that is about one degree away from rigor mortis. Why is she in that postion? Because the media gave her a soapbox in an earlier debate and she marginalized herself. The Milwaukee JS invited Herman Cain to an editorial board session because they were under the illusion that he was a serious candidate. If his self-swirly didn't disabuse them of that notion, nothing will.
The media didn't make Rick Perry forget his points. The media hasn't made Romney take at least three positions on every issue of interest to conservatives. The media didn't put Newt Gingrich on the sofa with Nancy Pelosi. All the media can do is work with the material the candidates give them.
The media only likes one thing more than a good story: selling a story whether good or bad. If anything, the failing of the debates, other than there being one every night, is that implausible candidates like Huntsman, Bachmann, Santorum, and Paul are still invited. It is hard to reconcile this clown car aspect of the debates with a desire by the media to do anything but have more debates to cover.
This whining and caviling about the media choosing a candidate is ridiculous. It is an excuse made by losers and for losers.