Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 5, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

MEDIA DARLING WATCH....So who has the media gone the easiest on, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? The New York Times surveyed the people who listen to the news and they said the answer is....John McCain. Awesome. Apparently we have pretty savvy news consumers here in America.

Kevin Drum 1:26 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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But the poll also shows that most people don't notice a difference in the way the media treats the different candidates. How do you explain that?

Posted by: cjenk415 on May 5, 2008 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't a candidate at least partly to blame for the bad press? It's not as if Hillary didn't know that the Press will be hard on her when she began campaigning. If she was a savvy candidate, ok may be extraordinarily savvy candidate, she would have been able to soften the media for her.

This is not to concede that the media has not been loathsome during the last ten to fifteen years in its glossing over the gargantuan failures of Bush and magnifying and ridiculing even the smallest of the shortcomings of the Democratic leaders.

Posted by: gregor on May 5, 2008 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

Let me see if I got this straight Gregor. The media is unfair to Clinton, but it's her fault because she knew it was going to happen?

Posted by: Boronx on May 5, 2008 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

The saturation coverage of Obama and Hillary may in the end have the effect of lending an aura of inevitability to a Democratic president come 2009. McCain doesn't get off easy in the press, so much as come across as, well, irrelevant. So what if his "spiritual advisor" is nuttier than Jeremiah Wright, or that he doesn't know Shiite from Sunni? Not like he's going to be president or anything... Whether this is a good thing for Democrats, the media, or the nation at large is another question, of course.

Posted by: jonas on May 5, 2008 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

Definitely Hillary's the media darling. In the ABC debate, Hillary was asked no hard hitting questions at all about Travelgate, Watergate or any others scandals she was involved with in the white house. Obama was asked about every scandal Sean Hannity imagined about on Fox News.

Hillary has been able to get away with snipergate and gas-tax pandering while Obama must answer to every word that comes out of Reverend Wright's mouth. Not to mention Hillary's advisor Mickey Kantor has recently been caught on video hurling profanity at Indiana voters and using a racial slur against African Americans, but have we heard a word about it from the MSM? Nope.

That Obama pretty much won the nomination despite the MSM's constant attack on him shows what a resilient and tough campaigner he is.

Posted by: TLM on May 5, 2008 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

cjenk415 noticed the same thing I did. The majority of respondents in each case said the media was treating each candidate the same. What does this mean? I think it means the majority of respondents were not paying close attention to the race.

Posted by: Cap'n Phealy on May 5, 2008 at 3:26 AM | PERMALINK

Here's an excerpt from Glenn Greenwald's new book, Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Myths of Republican Politics

"In every one of these critical aspects, John McCain is perfectly illustrative of the same twisted process that has infected our political discourse and converted our national elections into, using the words of John Harris and Mark Halperin, a personality-based freak show. The media depicts McCain as a moderate despite his warmongering extremism. He is heralded as a "new kind of Republican" even though, as a candidate, he is the spitting image of George W. Bush and, on the issues, a more or less reliable supporter of the defining Bush/Cheney policies. He is relentlessly painted as an independent, apolitical maverick, despite a willingness to change positions the minute that doing so is politically expedient. The press refuses to subject him to critical scrutiny because of their great personal affection for him. And he is held out as the honor-bound truth-teller despite both a public and private life that has long ceased to contain any actual acts of honor and truth-telling.

John McCain is a natural candidate, right at home in a political party led by Great American Hypocrites and with a press corps that reveres great American hypocrisy. The press adores him for the same vapid, personality-based reasons it adored George W. Bush. And McCain's media-built and media-sustained reputation as a trans-partisan man of principle and conviction is every bit as genuine as it was in the case of Bush. If the GOP/media machinery manages to elect him, he will undoubtedly produce extremely similar -- if not worse --results."

Posted by: consider wisely always on May 5, 2008 at 4:35 AM | PERMALINK


CommonDreams.org May 2, 2008
Timothy Karr is the Campaign Director for Free Press and SavetheInternet.com. Megan Tady is a freelance journalist living in Western Massachusetts:
Why Big Media Is Mum About Its Propaganda Habit
"Big surprise — the American people are taking it upon themselves to stop pro-war propaganda in the news, and the corporate media aren’t reporting on it.

When hundreds of thousands of Americans protest the Iraq war year after year, the corporate media portray peace activists as zealots on stilts.

When Americans across the country voice their outrage and concern about global warming, the corporate media feed us pundits who deny or misconstrue the facts about the environment.

Now, tens of thousands of Americans have urged Congress to investigate the Pentagon’s pervasive program to embed at least 75 “propaganda pundits” on every major news network. But the corporate media haven’t batted an eye — or said a word. (And even the Bush Administration is dodging the scandal, while insulting the only journalist in the White House gaggle with the guts to ask the question.)

In the same way that the corporate media refuse to report on the issues that affect and anger us the most, almost every news outlet has instituted a news blackout on this explosive story, opting to sweep under the rug a scandal that reaches deep into their own newsrooms.

Since the story broke in the New York Times, appeals to stop Pentagon propaganda have been flooding Congress. Senators John Kerry and Carl Levin have picked up the baton, and are calling for an investigation. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have issued statements expressing their dismay about the Pentagon’s program. And even the Pentagon, at least “temporarily,” is backing off from siccing their coached “experts” on the American audience.

The Cozy Lapdog

But there’s a deeper illness here that can’t be healed by promises from the Pentagon. U.S. journalism has been struck with a paralyzing case of consolidation, and the corporate hands that own our media don’t want a cure. The Bush administration’s propaganda wouldn’t have spread far if it weren’t for its cozy relationship with media outlets like Fox, ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN.

This failure of the watchdog not only undermines every standard of journalism, it also poses a fundamental threat to our democracy.

The effects of Big Media have never been more apparent. First and foremost, the corporate owners protect themselves with a phalanx of lobbyists, and then dole out favors to the politicians and regulators who allow Big Media to consolidate their power unbridled.

Our media should have properly challenged the Bush Administration’s case for the Iraq war and countered the official version with dissenting views. Instead, we’ve gotten unapologetic propaganda from mainstream outlets that are too closely aligned DC power and politics to rock the boat.

The Netroots Go Where Fox Won’t

It’s obvious that the mainstream media won’t help us keep this story alive. But the netroots and noncommercial media are going where Big Media won’t, with extensive coverage of the scandal on independents ranging from The Nation, Salon.com, DemocracyNow and PBS to PRWatch, OpenLeft and DailyKos. Combine that with the growing public outcry and we’re close to a tipping point in Congress.

Media organizations and the Pentagon have a lot of explaining to do. The debate about America’s military involvement in Iraq should be based on facts, and not on the spin of propaganda pundits and an enabling media.

It’s time we knew the truth about the war. And it’s time Big Media answered for its propaganda habit. Now Congress must act."

Posted by: Outcry against Big Media on May 5, 2008 at 5:03 AM | PERMALINK

The following is a letter to the editor I sent to a local newpaper:

"According to a recent Washington Post article, presidential candidate Sen. John McCain possesses a nearly uncontrollable temper which has resulted in numerous shouting matches in the U.S. Senate where McCain screamed, pushed or shoved other Senators or officials with whom he did not agree.

In one incident, McCain mocked and shouted loud obscenities at Sen. Charles Grassley. When Grassley said, "I don't have to take this" and stood to leave, McCain confronted Grassley and started shoving him.

Throughout his life, there is a clear pattern of McCain losing his temper, bullying others, using obscenities to describe his wife and others, physically assaulting people, etc. According to former Sen. Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican, "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him."

Many people support McCain because he was a POW in Vietnam (McCain's aircraft was shot down over Hanoi on Oct. 26, 1967, while he was bombing a civilian light bulb factory). But McCain's bullying predated his incarceration. I don't condone mistreatment of POW's, however I think we need to be honest with ourselves.

If war planes were bombing your hometown, destroying civilian factories where people were trying to work -- if we saw our houses, schools, etc. destroyed, our family, friends and neighbors maimed or killed -- and the pilot floated down into town, would we really be polite to them? I doubt whether we would show them any mercy.

I do not think that McCain has the judgment or temperament to be president. I hope you will join me in opposing his election."

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on May 5, 2008 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

That Obama pretty much won the nomination despite the MSM's constant attack on him shows what a resilient and tough campaigner he is.

Posted by: TLM on May 5, 2008 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

BWAAAA-HAAAA-HAAAA-HAAAA-HAAA! HAAAAA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH! Good one, TLM. Good one. (Wiping tears away.) You should book yourself in for a week at the Laff Factory. I guarantee you'll sell out every night.

Posted by: Pat on May 5, 2008 at 7:01 AM | PERMALINK

Christ! It gets better every minute here. You can't write this shit. Now Conservative Deflator is writing letters to the editor defending the Viet Cong who shot down McCain and tortured him and he thinks it's going to HELP Democrats. BWA-HA-HA-HA. Christ, people, have mercy. I gotta get ready to go to work --- I can't sit here laughing all morning! Keep killing me!

Posted by: Pat on May 5, 2008 at 7:05 AM | PERMALINK

And by the way, Moderators. You seem super eager to regulate any comments here you don't like. How about stepping in above where TLM repeats the completely debunked libel that Mickey Kantor used the "N word?" Last week called, TLM. They want their talking points back. Dumbass.

Posted by: Pat on May 5, 2008 at 7:16 AM | PERMALINK

Although the interviewers keep asking Hillary about her willingness to "obliterate" Iran through "massive retaliation," and she keeps repeating those words, there seems not to be much commentary about her rhetoric exceeding George Bush's.

I'm wondering if they're just dumbstruck by the Strangelovian beauty of it.

Posted by: CKR on May 5, 2008 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

The media's loveplay will continue as long as they keep getting free BBQ from McSame. Maybe the democratic candidates can hire a hotdog vendor to campaign with them all the time.

Posted by: GOD on May 5, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

This can't be true. Why, I heard on the radio just this morning how much the Liberal Media hate conservatives like McCain.

And it wasn't a comedy show.

Just a couple of months ago this same fuckwit was denouncing McCain for not being a real conservative, but never mind. Look over there.

Posted by: thersites on May 5, 2008 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

But in the sentence "...surveyed people who listen why is "listen" italicized?

That implies the existence of a number of people who don't listen to the news. And they vote, too, unfortunately.

Posted by: thersites on May 5, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

cjenk415 wrote:

But the poll also shows that most people don't notice a difference in the way the media treats the different candidates. How do you explain that?

Most people don't consume enough news to feel they can claim they see a difference. Sure, they may have seen some piece that looked really positive about McCain or about Obama- but that was the last time they watched (or read) more than 1-2 seconds of election news all-at-once in the last 6 months, so how can they feel justified in saying they notice a difference?

Easy answer, when we've got an electorate that mostly thinks about other stuff. Probably if the coverage really did a good job of explaining and focusing on the issues, more people would tune in, because they'd easier see what's at stake and want to know more about how the election could effect them. Instead, they get annoying crap- they tune out because the news presenters and pundits aren't likeable enough for non-news junkies to subject themselves to that shit. I certainly wouldn't want to hang out with any news commentators at a bar- what normal person obsesses over a candidate's laugh or some detail of their behavior for the length of an entire televised news piece?

Posted by: Swan on May 5, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Jon Stewart made a comment a couple of years ago, saying that we pay politicians to worry and talk about the issues so that we don't have to. Somehow when you have a sick child or are facing eviction from your home, whether someone bowls well or whether someone is showing a bit of cleavage, those just aren't important. Those of us who read blogs and follow the events closely - we see everything magnified.

Posted by: jen flowers on May 5, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

That is, a plurality- those who claim to notice any favoritism- notice more pro-McCain favoritism than positive stories or portrayals of any other candidate, but a majority which doesn't claim to notice any favoritism doesn't watch or read enough news to really notice what they're talking about.

Also, often the favoritism is so subtle and psychological, that a lot of stuff we call media bias most people would just sneeze at, you really have to watch enough news to know the media's m.o. in order to realize that they're really scamming us with it- that it's not normal to spend so much time obsessing over Hillary's laugh and that only non-white male war-veteran Republicans are treated to such scrutiny.

Posted by: Swan on May 5, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

So Hillary was involved in the Watergate scandal? Geez TLM, did you flunk history in high school?

Okay Pat, calm down ... otherwise Thersites will have to call Nurse Ratched.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 5, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Weenie: So Hillary was involved in the Watergate scandal?

I think I've seen a film of Hillary lurking on the Grassy Knoll...

Sorry about the mess in the kitchen, babe. Where's breakfast?

Posted by: thersites on May 5, 2008 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Here's a little more on my page at Dkos.

Posted by: Swan on May 5, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Right. As I noted once before, it will be fun to watch the Right contort from whining about how "Saint McCain" was beloved by the media, to having to cast him as being dissed per their usual bitter media conspiracy take. The NYT article helped (too conveniently?), but keep an eye on the Hagee thing. Frank Rich's take was excellent and even made Drudge.

Posted by: NB on May 5, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Nixon supporters always did claim someone else was responsible for Watergate. I didn't know until today it was the Clintons.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on May 5, 2008 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

The media did nothing as hard on Hillary as they did with Wright and Obama.

They were hard on Hillary when she said, stupid crap or flat out lied.

They called Obama unpatriotic and unAmerican because of his pastor.

And this was done for one reason. To scare white people away from him.

The media is a pathetic joke.

Posted by: Ken on May 5, 2008 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry no breakfasts for the rest of the summer Thersites - I'm tending to the hops that will go into your beer.

Posted by: optical weenie on May 5, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

The news media would actually have to cover McCain's daily bumbles, mumbles and blunders for this survey to have any meaning. You can't go any easier when you overlook it all.

Posted by: Zane on May 6, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

What the hell is wrong with Washington Monthly? The comment "Not to mention Hillary's advisor Mickey Kantor has recently been caught on video hurling profanity at Indiana voters and using a racial slur against African Americans, but have we heard a word about it from the MSM? Nope." requires a correction.
That is a false slur against Mickey Kantor that was known to be false in that day's news cycle and it's appalling Washington Monthly has let the column.
Here Ben Smith of Politico explains about the doctored video:

Kantor did not use a slur against African-Americans. Maybe Washington Monthly can investigate who doctored that clip?

Here Domenico Montanaro of MSNBC explains that Kantor was not insulting the people of Indiana but referring to the White House (then occupied by George H.W. Bush):


It's bad enough that Washington Monthly played dumb while these dirty tricks were utilized. It's outrageous that they refuse to correct it all this time later.

Posted by: Jake on October 25, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK
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