Campaign ’08: ‘Flag Pins, Bowling and Fairly Trivial Faux Pas’

Editor & Publisher‘s Greg Mitchell gives another glimpse (Mother Jones, 2/5/09) at his Why Obama Won book, which found “reporters and pundits focused on flag pins, bowling and fairly trivial faux pas”–thus yielding “far more media lowlights than highlights.” Resisting the urge to “do a full article just on William Kristol‘s errors and flubs at the New York Times,” Mitchell instead lists “some defining media moments of the 2008 campaign,” headed up by “perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years”:

On April 18ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos focused mainly on small stuff when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadelphia. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the healthcare and mortgage crises, the state of the economy and other pressing issues had to wait until the midway point. Before then, Obama was pressed to explain (once again) his relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his reason for not wearing a flag pin, while Clinton had to answer for her Bosnia trip exaggerations. Obama was also forced during this debate to defend his slim association with former 1960s radical Bill Ayers. This led to Obama’s claim that Hillary’s husband pardoned two other radicals. And so on.

Most damningly, Mitchell tells us that “Gibson only got excited when he complained about anyone daring to raise taxes on his capital gains”; read the FAIR magazine Extra!: “Dubious Debates: How Media Moderators Lowered the Level of Election ’08” (7-8/08) by Jacqueline Bacon