Friday, September 19, 2008

Ace nails it

Edgy, dangerous, but on the mark:
[W]e know that Barack Obama's surrogates are constantly calling the media to play the race card whenever an attack line rises that Barack Obama 1) views as a real threat and 2) does not wish to confront directly. He doesn't wish to confront it -- often because he has no good defense -- and so calls the media to peddle his tales of racism! to get his buddies in the media to bury the story. He has no answer to the charge, so he demands the media embargo the charge entirely.
The fact that the major media are engaged in a massive surrogacy for Obama is, I think, beyond dispute at this point. The best evidence is the three solid weeks of unrelenting and unprecedented attacks on Sarah Palin, including several lines of attack that were clearly nothing more than robotlike parroting of Team Obama's talking points.

Why? Beyond the usual liberal bias, let me offer three basic psychological reasons for this:
  • The Inevitability Factor -- Political reporters live and die by access. If you don't have friendly sources feeding you the inside scoop, you're dead meat in the ultra-competitive elite press corps. Team Obama has capitalized on this as a weapon to intimidate reporters: "Our guy's The Next President of the United States. You don't want to get on our bad side, do you?" This is why reporters are falling over each other in a contest over who can most slavishly repeat Team Obama's talking points or throw the most fiendish "gotcha" at the McCain campaign. They are trying to ingratiate themselves with The Winning Team.
  • The "Fairness" Factor -- What is the most simple definition of "fairness"? Half-and-half, 50-50, even-Steven, right? OK, so we had eight years of Democratic Clinton, then we had eight years of Republican Bush, and in the infantile subconscious of many journalists, it's the Democrats' turn to win the next election. This is how they rationalize the absurd one-sidedness of their coverage, by thinking it would be unfair for the Republicans to control the White House for another four years.
  • The I'm-Not-a-Racist Factor -- This is what Ace is driving at. If 90% of the press corps are in the tank for Obama, the other 10% are scared to death of being identified as anti-Obama, because they know darn well that the dreaded "r-word" will be permanently branded into their foreheads if they dare question or contradict the Inevitable Triumph of Hope narrative.
Go back to the Clinton years -- look what happened to the reputations of Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and the WaPo's Sue Schmidt after they took the lead on the Lewinsky scandal. They were branded as right-wing stooges. (Schmidt recently took an early-retirement buyout; Isikoff continues toiling away.)

Getting tarred as a Republican sympathizer is incredibly damaging to a reporter's career prospects; to be branded a racist -- and that's what they'd risk by running negative stories about Obama -- is career death.

Don't be surprised that the dominant media narrative so strongly favors Obama. If you go out on the campaign trail, you'll see that a lot of the reporters are very young -- in their 20s or 30s -- and they are naturally ambitious. If they were to publish anything negative about Obama, if they were to contradict the Inevitable Triumph of Hope narrative, they might as well call it quits and go sell insurance or something, because they'll never become chief White House correspondent.

Many apparently puzzling aspects of human behavior become remarkably less puzzling, once you begin with the cynical assumption that most people are motivatived by very narrow and superficial considerations of self-interest. Begin by asking, "What's in it for him?" and you'll seldom be too far off the mark.


  1. Hate to join in your cynicism, Mac, but you are Dead. On.

  2. No, not the same media that used to parrot Castro, Stalin, and even Saddam talking points? Why would they support Obama? *cough* Your cynicism is so cute!