Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Corporate dollars for Obama

One of the reasons that campaign finance restrictions tend to create more problems than they solve is that there is always an exemption for the activities of media corporations and they are rarely neutral reporters of events. In the old days, there were Democrat and Republican and Whig and whatever newspapers. At least they were honest.

No rational person can deny that the mainstream media is in the tank for Barack Obama. It has always seemed indisputable to me that the major news outlets, with the exception of Fox, have a liberal Democratic bias. (Note: this is not the same as a far left bias. They are Democrats and not Greens.)It's Obamamania stems from that, but also from the atmospherics. Particularly for people informed by left-liberal orthodoxies, the Obama story is more interesting than McCain's (race trumps military heroism) and, in our celebrity and youth obsessed culture, Obama is Brad Pitt and McCain is Hugh Beaumont.

That bias can, of course, be overcome by other concerns, such as the search for ratings or even sensitivity to accusations of bias. So the Obama lovefest may not continue. But everyone sending anchors overseas with Obama? Time talking about Berlin awaiting the new JFK? Newsweek's progressively hagiographic Obama covers? The New York Times publishing an Obama op-ed and refusing to give McCain a response? (For all you conservative Ricardo Pimentel critics, there is no way - none - that he'd let something like that happen.)

In the political world, there is a term for getting your message in news outlets and op-ed pages. It's called "earned media." While "free media" might be a better term, the idea is that you generate news or interesting commentary that compels the media to cover it. That's an accurate description if media folks are acting like journalists and not participants in the narrative.

Right now, the major networks and media outlets should be embarrassed. I almost guarantee that, if Obama wins, there will be some oh so sweet handwringing of "how we strayed from neutrality (and kicked a**!) sometime next year.

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