Media Bias by Wyatt McIntyre

We can’t even turn around anymore without hearing something about it, you have organizations and websites and blog set up to monitor it, videos are circulated to prove it and all seeking to discredit one story or another. No, though it may seem like it we’re not talking about Jamie Lynn Spears and her latest baby news or the next great story in the BradJolina Epic, it’s not the case… or at least this time.

It’s bias in the media.

A prevalent topic these days, media bias has become on of those hot topics for discussion, fuel debate and discourse as to the role and the responsibility of the Mainstream Media. So much so has it become engrained in the national psyche and so aware of it have the networks become, efforts are made try and gain credibility by repeating slogans ad nausem, “Fair and Balanced”, “Very Independent”, “Chris Matthews will never talk about tingles in his pants if you please just watch us again, for the love of God please watch.” Well okay, the last one isn’t a slogan, but it should be repeated over and over again by MSNBC, acutely aware of the horrible mental image that Matthews scarred the nation’s consciousness with.

Still, it’s not hard to look around and see specific biases in the media, especially through the course of this election, expectations are set low and there they seem to be used to propel one candidate forward over another by focusing less and less on the substance and more and more on the superficial.

Consider the rock star status of Barack Obama…

Since day one the standard seemed to be set. The focus became not about policy or about positions but rather about the bowling scores and basketball games of the first term Senator from Illinois Democratic Primary underdog turned Party Presidential hopeful. Serious news time was given not to serious questions raised about the man but rather to showing footage of him enjoying a beer or about how a half eaten waffle that he had ordered in a Pennsylvania diner turned up on Ebay or about how he made a three point basketball shot. In turn, more important stories were then pushed from the forefront. For example questions of flip flops or questions about his judgment.

Take the now famous Race in America Speech. Trumpeted as one of the great speeches of our generation, little question was raised of it afterwards. Delving into national and personal histories, offering philosophical and spiritual questions, Senator Obama took that stage, stood behind that podium and talked directly to the country for almost an hour. A few weeks later, he had changed his story on one key part, a few weeks later he would change his story on another key part and yet never were questions raised. The first would have been on the issue of Jeremiah Wright, his long time pastor and spiritual mentor. Saying he could never disown the man during the speech, a short time would pass before, Wright once more taking the limelight, he would disown him. The second would be Trinity United Church, the congregation Wright would preach at and he would attend since he first came to Chicago. Singing the praises of Trinity, he would talk about how it was there in the community bringing people together and showing love for it’s fellow man. He would tell those gathered for his speech he could not and would not leave the church for that reason. Then, amidst more stories of divisive preaching at Trinity, this time from long time friend Father Michael Pfleger, he would leave.

Those stories would briefly make the news, but nothing more than a side note, and never as anything more than just being independent of anything else. Never would there be a side by side comparison done of his heralded speech and his later statements. But then it’s not surprising, consider his statements before the speech that he had not heard the sermons by Wright and his statements during where he said he had been there when sermons were given that made him uncomfortable.

Or consider the story of Eric Richards, a one time member of the administration of Bill Clinton, working for the Attorney General. Richards was key in the decision to ship Elian Gonzales back to Cuba during the whole mess that seemed to preoccupy the national news in the 1990’s. Now he serves as a central advisor to Senator Obama. Protesting in Florida members of the Cuban Community and members of Elian’s family in America would say that Senator Obama was against the Cuban Embargo. CNN would be quick to say, while covering the story, that it was actually a misrepresentation of the Illinois Senator’s position. But then, why not? After all they covered his Latin America Speech in the same state a few months prior where he said, in unequivocal terms, he is opposed to lifting the embargo. The part they leave out, of course, are his prior statements, primarily given in 2004 when running for US Senate where, during a debate, he would say he believed the Cuban Embargo was a failure.

But it’s not just Obama alone that seems to be their darling.

For months upon months after Hurricane Katrina the media carried the story of FEMA’s failings, tying it closely to President George W. Bush, showing it as another blunder for his administration. Still, for whatever mistakes he and the relief organization made, the people of Louisiana didn’t put the blame solely at his feet. Kathleen Blanco, the Democrat Governor, would refuse to seek another term, knowing her fate, and voters in that state would give a resounding mandate to Republican Contender Bobby Jindal. But during all of this how often was Blanco’s name carried from the palpably obscure?

Congressman Mark Foley, the Representative from Florida’s 15th District, would become a household name for the House sex scandals and allegations of emails and messages he sent. He would resign amidst a cloud, but eventually, with insufficient evidence the charges were dropped. Tim Mahoney, a Democrat, would take the seat promising better morals and ethics. Still, for all the allegations carried of Foley, little is mentioned of Mahoney and the stories of his extramarital liaisons despite those pledges.

It seems they are more content to tell the story of the great Democratic leadership and the failed and disgraced Republican blundering than they are of actually covering the news.

Many years ago it was said that William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper giant, said of the Spanish American War, you supply the pictures, I’ll supply the war, in one of those moments that seemed to expose the media for it’s own biases. It would be one of those stories that sort of faded to American folk legend, making an appearance in Citizen Kane, a fictionalized portrayal of Hearst’s life. But still, over one hundred years later it would seem that little, if anything has actually changed in the course of how the news is reported. The media still brings it’s own agenda and it’s own slant, seeking to set the course for the nation as if somehow it believes without it the people will not be smart enough to select the candidate they know to be the best.

The only difference between the media today and the media then, or of years prior, they never really did much to try and hide their bias.

But then just a few thoughts I suppose…

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