Monday, May 12, 2008

Media bias in 1,311 words

Newsweek's 3,400-word preview of an Obama-McCain general election campaign draws a 1,311-word response from John McCain campaign aide Mark Salter:
The Obama senior staffers were described as idealists and decent sorts, and [ju-jitsu] experts who could use Republican Party smears and deceitful tactics against their authors. I’m sure both David Plouffle and David Axelrod are fine, upstanding citizens. But the former ran a campaign for Senator Torricelli and the latter worked on the campaigns of Mayor Daley. I don’t remember those campaigns being notable for their delicate courtesy and softball tactics toward their opponents.
Without a trace of skepticism, your reporters embraced the primary communications strategy the Obama campaign intends to follow: any criticism of their candidate is a below the belt, Republican attack machine distortion that should discredit the authors. And any attempt by our campaign to counter that suggestion will be dismissed as a rant.
(Via Hot Air Headlines.) What any media critic should notice about the Newsweek article is that it starts with a leisurely 320 words humanizing Obama -- feet up on the table, adjusting his socks, etc. -- before introducing the Republican opposition thus:
The Republican Party has been successfully scaring voters since 1968, when Richard Nixon built a Silent Majority out of lower- and middle-class folks frightened or disturbed by hippies and student radicals and blacks rioting in the inner cities.
Then a Clinton adviser is quoted saying their campaign has been holding back on negative attacks on Obama, but:
The Republicans "won't suffer from such scruples," this adviser says. Sen. John McCain himself has explicitly disavowed playing the race card or taking the low road generally. But he may not be able to resist casting doubt on Obama's patriotism. And the real question is whether he can -- or really wants to -- rein in the merchants of slime and sellers of hate who populate the Internet and fund the "independent expenditure" groups who exercise their freedom in ways that give a bad name to free speech.
The "merchants of slime and sellers of hate who populate the Internet"? Right. And they're all Republicans.

What I gather from this Newsweek article is that there isn't a single conservative with any influence in their newsroom. Otherwise, at some point in the editorial process, somebody would have called Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe into a conference room and said, "Uh, guys, let's go over this story. What's the concept here?"

This isn't an opinion column. It's the cover story. You cannot flatly assert, without evidence or argument, that the GOP's electoral success is entirely dependent on "merchants of slime."

The article describes David Bossie of Citizens United as being "already deep into a mudslinging campaign against Obama." What has Bossie done? He's commissioned a documentary film about Obama. Bossie's a conservative, and I presume that the film will be as effective as "Hillary: The Movie," which Citizens United released in January. In fact, I interviewed Boss at the movie's DC premiere:
"We already have our research staff working on Obama and, if he is the nominee, we will have a film out this summer, just like this one," said David Bossie, president of the conservative group Citizens United and executive producer of "Hillary: The Movie," which premiered last night in Georgetown.
That movie wasn't just right-wing "mudslinging," and I don't expect the next one to be. To characterize a critical documentary as "mudslinging" is to dismiss and malign it -- and the Obama movie is still months away from completion.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, love the name of your blog - really clever. (Unless you recently had a name change, in that case it's really insane). ;)

    Anyway, impressed to see people actually managing to find worthwhile stuff in the media about the election. I'm sort of commenting on the situation here and I think I've managed not to take sides. (Other than against parts of the media).