Sep
15
2008

The Myth of Pro-Obama Media Bias

Little evidence for self-proclaimed ‘lovefest’

If there has been one unquestioned assumption of the 2008 election, it is that the media love Barack Obama. Rush Limbaugh declared that the media were following Obama with “their tongues dragging along the concrete to the floors.” “Lenin, Stalin never got this kind of coverage from their media,” Limbaugh claimed (7/22/08), which he blamed on the “chickification of our culture and the news business” (7/21/08). Joseph McQuaid, publisher of the conservative New Hampshire Union Leader, wrote an editorial headlined “Obama Orgy” (7/21/08) that denounced “the outrageous imbalance in the major media’s coverage of the candidates.” Such proclamations bolstered a […]

Sep
01
2008

Letters to the Editor

Dubious Responses Jacqueline Bacon’s article on the debates (“Dubious Debates,” Extra!, 7-8/08) only further documents my reaction as I watched them. My question, however, is: Why did the candidates meekly put up with those questions? When someone is asked why he still runs when polls show he has very weak support, the answer should have been something like this: That’s a question only the voters can, and should, answer. They want to know what my positions are. Then they can decide if they want to support me. Ask questions about what I want to do about healthcare, the economy, or […]

Sep
01
2008

Meanwhile, in Iraq . . .

When Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki called for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troop (Der Spiegel, 7/19/08), U.S. corporate media coverage of his statement displayed a remarkable condescension. The New York Times' Steven Lee Myers (7/10/08) suggested that al-Maliki didn't mean what he was saying and was just doing what Iraqi politicians have to do, explaining that the prime minister's announcement "is partly a nod to Iraqi political realities, since Iraqi politicians must call for the end of the American occupation. No one in Iraqi realistically expects to throw out the Americans anytime soon--and few in Iraq […]

Sep
01
2008

Media Push an Unpopular Trade 'Centrism'

Contradictory counsel for Obama

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/BorderExplorer

As America heads toward a critical presidential election, “free trade” advocate Robert Reich, who as Bill Clinton’s labor secretary in 1993 fought hard for passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), glumly admitted that the constituency for “free trade” has severely eroded. “I’m still a free trader, although I will tell you . . . there are fewer and fewer of us,” he told MSNBC host Chris Matthews wanly (Hardball, 10/8/07). “It’s a very unpopular position.” Unpopular with the public, but certainly not the media. Leading pundits and editorial writers for corporate media have persisted in counseling Democratic […]

Sep
01
2008

SoundBites

McCain’s Warm Sedate Reception NPR guest Robert Traynham (7/16/08) described the “warm response” McCain received at an NAACP convention, including a “standing ovation” for his plan to promote school vouchers. But why would the NAACP, which opposes vouchers as a drain on public schools, be so enthusiastic about McCain’s proposals? Maybe they weren’t. The Baltimore Sun (7/17/08) reported that McCain received a “somewhat sedate reception—with only a smattering of applause for his education plan.” The discrepancy might be explained by Traynham’s perspective: Although NPR’s Farai Chideya introduced her guest only as “D.C. bureau chief for the Comcast cable network CN8,” […]

Sep
01
2008

Inventing Obama's Race Problem

Media muddle needs some sort of trouble

Barack Obama has a race problem—though corporate media can’t quite decide what it’s supposed to be. Take an article by New York Times political reporter Adam Nagourney published toward the end of the primary race with Hillary Clinton (5/6/08): If Mr. Obama loses in Indiana because of white blue-collar support for Mrs. Clinton, it would be the third time in a row, after Ohio and Pennsylvania, that he has lost a big state because of an inability to win over enough of those kinds of voters. So Obama’s problem is “white blue-collar support.” The very next paragraph, though, gives him […]

Sep
01
2008

Spinning the Surge

Iraq & the election

Elections in Iraq--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Al Jazeera English

The most conspicuous thing about the mainstream media’s election-year discussion of the Iraq War is the lack of one. The numbers tell much of the story. Although it had been the main news story between January and May of 2007, totaling 20 percent of the news hole, that number declined to just 4 percent in the first three months of 2008—while the presidential campaign occupied 43 percent (Project for Excellence in Journalism, 3/26/08). Media decisions to treat the Iraq War as an afterthought have caused some correspondents to speak out publicly—most notably CBS correspondent Lara Logan, who said on Comedy […]

Sep
01
2008

Media's 'Girls Gone Wild' Fantasies

Pregnant girls ignored in story on ‘pregnancy pact’

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/MestreechCity

When Time magazine (6/30/08; online edition, 6/19/08) reported that “nearly half” of 17 pregnant teenagers at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts had made a pact to have children simultaneously, corporate journalists latched onto the story and scurried to express their dismay on newspaper pages, blogs and 24-hour cable news. Time’s article, which reporter Kathleen Kingsbury largely sourced to school principal Joseph Sullivan, told of a group of girls who repeatedly visited the school clinic for pregnancy tests. The girls, according to the principal, “reacted to the news that they were expecting with high fives.” And “the story got worse,” Kingsbury […]