September 9, 2008
Media's Treatment of Palin and ObamaBy James Edmund Pennington
If Barack Obama's past had been subjected to one tenth the media scrutiny during the full year of his candidacy, to which Sarah Palin has been subjected during the last 11 days, Obama very probably still would be junior senator from Illinois, and Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee.
Deny it though she will, this galling reality cannot have escaped Hillary's awareness. As she watches the media devote its considerable resources to a smear and destroy attack on Governor Palin, Hillary must be seriously annoyed. And rightly so.
For during the last week-and-a-half we have been treated to an astonishing affirmation of how thoroughly our nation's impartial media can bird dog the tiniest, least relevant fact fact about a candidate, how quickly it can penetrate through the fog of time back to the beginnings of a politician's career, all with the laudable goal of testing whether the image the candidate projects accords with the record.
Where was this frenzy of journalistic zeal and competence when Barack Obama was building up an insurmountable delegate lead over Hillary?
Where were the media articles, digging into the earliest days of Barack Obama's political origins in the corrupt Chicago machine and the far left fever swamps of Hyde Park? Where were the articles explaining Obama's long, close and deep connection to unreformed Marxist revolutionary and proud domestic terrorist Bill Ayers?
Where was the in-depth series on how Obama came to his first prominent job in 1995 as Chair of Ayers' $100 Million plus Annenberg Challenge grant? Just what was it about Obama's views that made Obama attractive Ayers, so attractive that Ayers not only picked Obama to chair his grant, but gave Obama's kick-off party for the Illinois state senate in 1996?
Where were (are?) the articles on just how closely these two men worked together for at least four years (1995-2005)? On who received the grant money, what they did with it and to what effect?
And, even more crucially, where are the deep and nuanced media analyses of Ayres' views -- about education and other matters -- and how congruent Obama's are with his?
Where were the probing analyses of Obama's improbable claimed shock at his minister's racist and hate-filled ravings? Where were the mainstream media's interviews of parishioners (and others) in Chicago who could affirm or contradict that Obama was asleep during the Reverend's worst rants? Or the reverse -- that Obama in fact agreed with some or all of them?
What about the deep articles describing "community organizers", what they do, who they revere, etc? The nation has never had a President whose principal job before entering politics was "community organizer." One would think at least some people would be interested to learn a bit about that profession before voting a "community organizer" into the Oval Office. If Sarah palin had been a "community organizer" would we see such articles?
Hillary would like to have seen a lot of such such stuff back in December, 2007, and the cold days before Super Tuesday in February of this year. If she -- and the public -- had, she very probably would have a different status now.
All of which brings me to my simple point: McCain/Palin supporters do not object to proper media scrutiny of Palin's past (though they do object to many of the irrelevant subjects of recent inquiry).
Measuring whether a candidate is in fact who he/she claims to be by digging into the candidate's record is the core function of the media in our electoral democracy.
The complaint, rather, is that the media never for a moment, let alone a week, scrutinized Barack Obama's origins in Chicago at all, let alone to the extent it already has Sarah Palin's in Alaska. And Obama wants to be President on January 20. At least Governor Palin expects to wait several years after the election before the possibility of sitting at the big desk arises.
McCain/Palin supporters, I am certain, would take the following bargain from the mainstream media in a heartbeat:
Decide how many reporters, smut-mongers, detectives and investigators you intend to send to Alaska in an effort to discredit Governor Palin. Then take that number --be it 20, 200 or 2000 -- divide in half, and send one battalion to Chicago to find out how Obama rose from total obscurity to great heights in record time, who his closest associates were, what portion of those associates' beliefs he shares, and what he really believes.
In short, send a team to Chicago to find out and tell us who Barack Obama is.
James Edmund Pennington is the pseudonym of a lawyer.