Rationalizing bias

Clarice Feldman and Rosslyn Smith
Politico reports that the good news for John McCain is that he's now receiving as much attention from the national media as his Democratic rival. The bad news is that it's all negative.

Just 14 percent of the stories about John McCain, from the conventions through the final presidential debate, were positive in tone, according to a study released today, while nearly 60 percent were negative - the least favorable coverage of any of the four candidates on the two tickets.

Reading the above, I'm tempted to say the media was shocked, shocked,  to find gambling going on at Rick's. Unfortunately, while Captain Renault was as cynical and worldly as journalists like to style themselves, he was also keenly aware of all the political currents swirling around him in turbulent Casablanca.  Today's media seems oblivious to everything outside their own bubble. How else to explain this bit of analysis Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post pulled from the same study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism cited above by Politico. 

While some will seize on these findings as evidence that the media are pro-Obama, the study says they actually contain "a strong suggestion that winning in politics begets winning coverage, thanks in part to the relentless tendency of the press to frame its coverage of national elections as running narratives about the relative position of the candidates in the polls ... Obama's numbers are similar to what we saw for John Kerry four years ago, and McCain's numbers are almost identical to what we saw eight years ago for Democrat Al Gore."

Really.  I don't recall that only 14% percent of the coverage of Al Gore was positive in tone with two weeks remaining in the race. Nor was running mate Joe Lieberman's family harassed by the media and his every statement distorted in interviews.  In the 2000 election the media didn't demur over the two decades old DUI that was sprung on Bush the weekend before the election as a non issue because it had all happened such a long time ago when times were different.  Yet today they ignore Obama's own admission of drug use and accept the Obama campaign's claim that his many ties with far left education professor and unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers is a non issue because Ayers' activities happened such a long time ago when the nation was in a divisive war.  

The facts are that in 1976 a DUI was more in the nature of a social faux pas than a serious legal charge. The term designated driver did not enter the nation's lexicon until
over a decade later.  Plotting to place a lethal pipe bomb is a felony that may lead to capital charges, both in 1970 and today.  That Professor  Ayers is somehow now rehabilitated through the connections of his wealthy, powerful father and the mere passage of time speaks volumes about the moral corruption of the Chicago social elite from whence he came, modern academia and the world of journalism. 

Nor was the coverage in 2004 driven solely by a media perception that Kerry was ahead.  Recall that in July, 2004 Newsweek assistant editor Evan Thomas claimed that the media wanted Kerry Edwards to win and would portray them as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there's going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points.  In September, 2004 Dan Rather, the veteran anchor of CBS evening news aggressively advocated a story slandering George W. Bush that relied on documents that were obvious forgeries.  The collapse of the story eventually lead to his resignation.    

A healthy industry would learn from those kind of mistakes and vow not to repeat them.  Instead the media continues to explain its obvious political bias as being driven by nothing more than covering what the polls show to be the fastest horse in the race,  somehow failing to note that they themselves sponsor those very polls. 

The media deserves to go out of business, and it will, perhaps very soon.  The average viewership of the network news shows is down by 400,000 to 500,000 for each of the big three compared to a year ago and newspapers are hemorrhaging readers.  As for the likes of Time and Newsweek, I haven't seen one outside of a waiting room in several years now.
Politico reports that the good news for John McCain is that he's now receiving as much attention from the national media as his Democratic rival. The bad news is that it's all negative.

Just 14 percent of the stories about John McCain, from the conventions through the final presidential debate, were positive in tone, according to a study released today, while nearly 60 percent were negative - the least favorable coverage of any of the four candidates on the two tickets.

Reading the above, I'm tempted to say the media was shocked, shocked,  to find gambling going on at Rick's. Unfortunately, while Captain Renault was as cynical and worldly as journalists like to style themselves, he was also keenly aware of all the political currents swirling around him in turbulent Casablanca.  Today's media seems oblivious to everything outside their own bubble. How else to explain this bit of analysis Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post pulled from the same study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism cited above by Politico. 

While some will seize on these findings as evidence that the media are pro-Obama, the study says they actually contain "a strong suggestion that winning in politics begets winning coverage, thanks in part to the relentless tendency of the press to frame its coverage of national elections as running narratives about the relative position of the candidates in the polls ... Obama's numbers are similar to what we saw for John Kerry four years ago, and McCain's numbers are almost identical to what we saw eight years ago for Democrat Al Gore."

Really.  I don't recall that only 14% percent of the coverage of Al Gore was positive in tone with two weeks remaining in the race. Nor was running mate Joe Lieberman's family harassed by the media and his every statement distorted in interviews.  In the 2000 election the media didn't demur over the two decades old DUI that was sprung on Bush the weekend before the election as a non issue because it had all happened such a long time ago when times were different.  Yet today they ignore Obama's own admission of drug use and accept the Obama campaign's claim that his many ties with far left education professor and unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers is a non issue because Ayers' activities happened such a long time ago when the nation was in a divisive war.  

The facts are that in 1976 a DUI was more in the nature of a social faux pas than a serious legal charge. The term designated driver did not enter the nation's lexicon until
over a decade later.  Plotting to place a lethal pipe bomb is a felony that may lead to capital charges, both in 1970 and today.  That Professor  Ayers is somehow now rehabilitated through the connections of his wealthy, powerful father and the mere passage of time speaks volumes about the moral corruption of the Chicago social elite from whence he came, modern academia and the world of journalism. 

Nor was the coverage in 2004 driven solely by a media perception that Kerry was ahead.  Recall that in July, 2004 Newsweek assistant editor Evan Thomas claimed that the media wanted Kerry Edwards to win and would portray them as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there's going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points.  In September, 2004 Dan Rather, the veteran anchor of CBS evening news aggressively advocated a story slandering George W. Bush that relied on documents that were obvious forgeries.  The collapse of the story eventually lead to his resignation.    

A healthy industry would learn from those kind of mistakes and vow not to repeat them.  Instead the media continues to explain its obvious political bias as being driven by nothing more than covering what the polls show to be the fastest horse in the race,  somehow failing to note that they themselves sponsor those very polls. 

The media deserves to go out of business, and it will, perhaps very soon.  The average viewership of the network news shows is down by 400,000 to 500,000 for each of the big three compared to a year ago and newspapers are hemorrhaging readers.  As for the likes of Time and Newsweek, I haven't seen one outside of a waiting room in several years now.