The election of Barack Obama was certainly historic, and the great attraction of that historic moment led to more history: an Obama-smitten news media that completely avoided their responsibility to test the nominee with hard questions. It made the gooey 1992 Clinton campaign look like a fistfight by comparison.
Obama faced none of the withering scrutiny applied to even the Republican vice presidential candidate. Instead, he was treated to a nearly constant string of encomiums and tributes to his transformational candidacy, while nearly every possible pitfall of political embarrassment or inconvenience has been omitted or dismissed.
Hollywood celebrities campaigning and cavorting with national contenders is a staple of presidential politics. Frank Sinatra is remembered for backing Jack Kennedy. Paul Newman made waves for Hubert Humphrey in 1968. Warren Beatty was part of George McGovern’s "Malibu Mafia" in 1972. Ted Kennedy used Carroll O’Connor, famous for playing Archie Bunker, to add to his lunch-bucket appeal in 1980.
Republicans, too, had their moments. Nixon had Hope; the Gipper had the Duke, Jimmy Stewart and others. But these were exceptions to the rule. For a generation this industry comprised of the very rich and very famous has been dominated by the Left. Some know whereof they speak, many are intellectual embarrassments and all believe the Earth’s axis revolves around the 90210 zip code.
In 1992 they flexed their muscle in a spectacular fashion, seemingly everywhere in support of the Man from Hope. The exercise would be repeated every four years thereafter; in the last go-round John Kerry lined up every Affleck and DiCaprio he could find.
The election results aren’t in yet, but there is one set of surveys with an unmistakeable conclusion. Everyone should be forced to admit that the publicists formerly known as the "news" media have worked themselves to the bone this year to elect Barack Obama.
Polls have found it. The Pew Center for the People and the Press documented a landslide: "By a margin of 70 percent to 9 percent, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on November 4."
The Center for Media and Public Affairs found it. Measuring for comments that are either measurably positive or negative – and dropping out the neutral remarks – comments about Obama on the three network evening newscasts have been two-thirds positive (65 percent) since the party conventions. Comments about John McCain have been about one-third positive (36 percent) in the same time frame.
Academics at Washington State University have discovered something that may not be very profound. Celebrities are quite successful in persuading young people to turn out and vote.
The survey found that get-out-the-vote pitches by celebrities in the 2004 election cycle helped create an 11 percent increase in voting by people between the ages of 18 and 24, compared to the 2000 election."It suggests that we can make use of celebrity culture to get students engaged," said Erica Austin, a co-author of the study and dean of the school. "They want to be like celebrities."
Austin’s team found that "celebrities have the power to motivate civic engagement regardless of their own grasp of the issues at hand." It’s easy to question the political savvy of musicians like P. Diddy or Christina Aguilera. Oprah Winfrey’s big primary push for Barack Obama gushed through the news and spilled over at the ballot box, even if her speeches on his behalf vaguely touted him as "The One" and sounded like a goopy New Age chat. He was "an evolved leader" and "we're all here to evolve as human beings."
Back in 1964, Lyndon Johnson and his hatchet man Bill Moyers made the infamous "Daisy" ad charging Barry Goldwater would cause a nuclear war, and it became a massive media story. Reportedly the ad ran only once and yet everyone came to know about it, thanks to the press. In 1976 and again in 1980 the Democrats worked overtime suggesting the election of Ronald Reagan would trigger a military calamity, so much so that in their 1980 debate, Reagan joked that Jimmy Carter was cartooning him as a "mad bomber." The media couldn’t get enough of that narrative, either.
So what happens when a vice presidential candidate makes the gaffe to end all gaffes and declares that his own running mate will trigger an international crisis? In the Year of The One, it’s yet another controversy that is virtually ignored by a national press corps that has become an institutional embarrassment.
On Sunday, October 12, CBS wrapped up its "Evening News" with the apparently charming scoop that Sister Cecilia Gaudette, a 106-year-old Catholic nun living in Rome, would cast her first presidential ballot since 1952...for Barack Obama. That’s one more evening-news story than CBS has devoted to Obama’s radical legislative record on abortion.
Try this on for size: ABC, CBS, and NBC together have unloaded more than a thousand stories on Obama’s presidential campaign, and we’re still waiting for the first broadcast network TV story devoted to examining Obama’s abortion record.
CBS’s man in Rome, Allen Pizzey, packaged his story without the slightest interest into inquiring as to why this Catholic nun would vote for a candidate who is clearly the nation’s fervent advocate of abortion. Instead, Pizzey chose to...ooze. "She has a simple, old-fashioned standard for politicians," Pizzey proclaimed, before giving the good nun the opportunity for her on-air national endorsement of Barack Obama: "A good straight man; good private life, honest and politically able to govern, of course."
Just like Bill Maher, "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane is discovering that atheist ridicule of Jesus Christ and Christianity draws nothing but yawns from today’s media elite. If you want an angry media mob, you need merely spit out "Barack Hussein Obama" at a McCain rally and watch the Guardians of Social Taste bring out the torches and pitchforks. But mocking Jesus? Ho hum.
On October 5, Fox’s Sunday night cartoon debuted an episode titled "I Dream of Jesus," a play on "I Dream of Jeannie." Get it? Jesus is a fairy tale, like a genie in a bottle. The title character, Peter Griffin wanders into a record shop, where he finds Jesus Christ minding the store. Jesus lies to Peter, trying to deny who he is, until Peter threatens to urinate on the albums of Christian artist Amy Grant. Jesus comes clear on his identity and explains he came to Earth "just to get away from the family... my dad just quit smoking and he’s a little on edge." What follows is an entire story that chronicles, in rather amazing fashion, how this lying, slacker Jesus is even dumber than Peter, the greatest idiot on animated television today.
It seems like only yesterday when Enron and Worldcom collapsed. Throughout these ordeals our national media labored long and hard to paint Worldcom’s Bernie Ebbers as the face of Capitalism Corrupted while connecting the dots between President Bush and Enron’s "Kenny Boy" Lay, in the effort to demonstrate that corruption in action.
Now it is not a couple of business behemoths in trouble; it’s the entire economy that is teetering over a credit crisis brought on in part by corrupt government-sponsored enterprises and liberal politicians. So where are those same journalists now?
They’re out there finding fault only with the evil private sector. The mushrooming federal government and the stewards of its never-ending expansion cannot be questioned.
Ever since liberal media types felt robbed by the Bush-Quayle campaign’s "lies" about Michael Dukakis in 1988, we’ve been suffering through the media elite’s attempts to "police" the facts in advertisements. "Correction" squads are insisting that John McCain can’t say Barack Obama will raise taxes, no matter how much that announcing Democrats will raise taxes is like announcing the sun will rise.
In 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle suggested Bill Clinton would raise taxes on the middle class. Quayle said in the vice presidential debate that everyone over $36,000 could face a tax hike. Media "experts" accused the GOP of mangling "facts." President Clinton was elected – and passed the largest tax increase in American history, right down to the middle class.
"It was Quayle who repeatedly twisted and misstated the facts," CNN reporter Brooks Jackson had pronounced after the vice presidential debate. On ABC, Jeff Greenfield proclaimed: "Independent examination of this charge by, for example, press organizations, has found it, to say the least, misleading."
For two decades, going back to the Willie Horton ads of 1988, we’ve heard liberals accuse Republicans of race-baiting. Throughout this campaign, there have been endless whispers, suggestions, and outright accusations that GOP could/would play the race card because Obama is half-black. Now Barack Obama has found his bizarre version of Willie Horton, and it’s…Rush Limbaugh.
Obama sneakily tried to air a Spanish-language TV ad telling Latinos that Limbaugh thinks Mexicans are all stupid and Mexican immigrants should all shut up and go home, and that Limbaugh and John McCain are identical twins on immigration.
None of it is true. Now when Obama talks about reaching across the aisle and healing a divided Washington, we’ll fall to the ground laughing.
The McCain campaign went looking for a major anchor to be awarded the blessing and the curse of the first Sarah Palin interview -- a blessing for ratings and a curse from all the competitors who would accuse the winners of being soft on Republicans. At CBS, Katie Couric had wallowed in fan-club-president questions to Hillary Clinton about her "pure stamina," so she couldn’t be first. NBC's Brian Williams kept asking Barack Obama those hardballs about how his late mother would swoon over the latest glowingly positive "news" magazine cover. How hard was it to pick Charlie Gibson on ABC?
Of the three anchors, Gibson is the one with the longest career in the hard-news trenches. The McCain people knew Gibson was not a "friendly." They knew Palin's first interview was going to be a grilling -- not just because the media saw her as untested, but because of the enormous liberal-media peer pressure to puncture her popularity.
It's not unlike the attitude that greeted conservative Gov. John Sununu of New Hampshire when he came to Washington to be Bush 41's chief of staff in 1989. Ben Bradlee, then the executive editor of The Washington Post, offered the Los Angeles Times his less-than-humble opinion: "A jack-leg Governor from a horse's ass state. How could he play with us in the big leagues?"
Seven years ago America was attacked. Thousands of innocents were murdered. As a nation we were first stunned, then saddened, and then angered, united as we hadn’t been for half a century, committed in a common purpose to fight back and defeat what was now a national enemy. There were many heroes that day. We honored them all then, and today we honor them again.
The mission of the Media Research Center is to document, expose and neutralize liberal media bias. We do so relentlessly. But if our mission is to take to task those who err in their roles as news journalists, we are also honor-bound to recognize their efforts when they excel in their profession. On 9-11-01, and in the days that followed, we saw the American news media at their finest. Several months after this horrific event, during the MRC’s Annual Gala in Washington DC, we unveiled a video tribute to these men and women, recognizing their excellence, and thanking them for it.
It is fitting that today, on the seventh anniversary of 9-11, that we release this video again, with our gratitude.
The executive suite at MSNBC is the last hardened corner of America to concede that maybe Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews are nowhere close to the textbook definition of detached, "straight news" anchor. Their decision to abandon what was tenderly called their anchoring "experiment" only acknowledges that the idea was a bust: MSNBC was regularly coming in dead last among the commercial cable-news and broadcast-news network covering the conventions.
NBC News is coming to the realization that Olbermann and Matthews aren’t only suppressing MSNBC’s ratings on election and convention nights, they’re ruining whatever credibility NBC’s brand retained. When the boos really kicked in during Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech in St. Paul, the delegates started chanting "NBC! NBC!" as the foremost example of partisan excess from an "objective" source. It’s gotten so bad that old NBC war horse Tom Brokaw is decrying how these men have "gone too far." This is shocking stuff coming from an anchorman who gave a Reagan-trashing interview to Mother Jones magazine in his Eighties heyday.
When MSNBC’s Chris Matthews suggested in Denver that Barack Obama earned his present elevation in American politics, unlike "showcase appointments" like Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, he reminded the world of the peculiarity of liberalism. John McCain’s selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate underlined it. Liberals find no joy when Republicans select women or minorities for top positions. They are all fraudulent traitors to their own apparent group interests. Conservative blacks aren’t really black. Conservative Latinos aren’t really Latino. Now, conservative women are somehow not really women.
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift spoke for her colleagues on the Palin selection: "If the media reaction is anything, it's been literally laughter in many places...In very, very many newsrooms."
What a disgraceful display of media malice in response to the Gov. Palin announcement. The Governor is a remarkable, genteel and upstanding woman, yet the press went right into the gutter in response to Sen. McCain's selection of her to be Vice President.
These alleged journalists are again demonstrating what utter charlatans they are. Every day they lecture conservatives about ‘mean-spirited' politics, yet they spent the entire Labor Day weekend using Gov. Palin's new born son's condition to try to score cheap and shoddy Democratic campaign points. And continued right on doing so when the Palin family announced that their oldest daughter Bristol was pregnant.
These are not reporters, these are hypocritical left-wing advocates using their First Amendment rights as clubs to bludgeon and abuse this fine woman with the lowliest attacks they can drum up.
The line between the liberal media and the Democratic Party has now been crossed so many times it is no longer blurred, it is obliterated.
Barack Obama's campaign has been seriously frightened by John McCain celebrity-mocking ads. Those celebrities were virtually nowhere to be found for most of the Denver convention. While the Obama machine may control the inside of the convention, outside these celebrities are clearly out of control – again.
That overbaked tart Madonna kicked off her latest concert tour with a fairly typical attempt to put her Kung Fu grip on media attention by signaling her preferences in the presidential race. In her first concert in London – the same city where the Dixie Chicks professed their shame for being geographically associated with Bush – Madonna performed a song titled "Give It 2 Me" with a video screen flashing images behind her.
First came John McCain's picture – alongside images of Adolf Hitler, Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe, environmental ruin, and starving children. (She also included Mike Huckabee in that odd hall of shame.) Then came the Obama segment, and the Democrat was surrounded by images of Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, John Lennon, and Al Gore.
For two years now, we’ve heard Barack Obama’s media allies telling us how he was a somehow Not A Politician, that he was the pragmatic soul of civility who was "uniquely qualified to nudge the country toward the color purple." (So said Newsweek.) If that myth hadn’t died under tons of weight to the contrary by now, it certainly should have expired in Springfield, Illinois when he selected Joe Biden as his running mate. The Democratic hatchet men were unleashed.
Obama brought the D-word to the table: the Republicans are a "disaster." The country could not suffer through "Four more years of the same out of touch policies that created an economic disaster at home. A disastrous foreign policy abroad. Four more years of the same divisive politics that's all about tearing people down instead of lifting the country up."
When Sen. John Kerry arrived in Boston for the last Democratic convention, the TV news stars thought they’d died and gone to political heaven. Dan Rather said Kerry’s speech drove the crowd in Boston into “a three-thousand-gallon attack about every three minutes,” and Newsweek’s Jon Meacham was comparing Kerry to Abraham Lincoln on MSNBC. If media liberals can get that excited over Kerry, viewers may have to worry about the anchors lapsing into diabetic comas over Barack Obama’s ascension convention in Denver.
It’s easy to forget just how “tick tight,” as Rather once put it, the primary race was between Obama and Hillary Clinton. It ended up with a vote gap of just one tenth of a percentage point. The real difference-maker in the 2008 race was the Obama favoritism of the national media, led by the television networks. It was his margin of victory.
Hollywood is always reminding us of its rosy vision of the future where there are absolutely no limits to sexual adventurism and gender confusion. Seldom is heard a discouraging word about the next new frontier of tolerance. "If it feels good, do it" isn’t merely a T-shirt slogan. In California, it should become the state motto, and might soon sound like a new pledge of allegiance – one utopia, casting aside any moral compass, finding liberty and justice in applauding every perversion.
On television, it’s become almost blase to place a reality show in the fashion world that merely features gay men with pink hair and cross-dressing judges. The CW network show "America’s Next Top Model" has now gone through ten seasons of "top models." So to freshen up the concept, hostess Tyra Banks announced that for the fall season, one of the girls will be a man – or, to use the politically correct term, a "transgender."
You know there are some in the liberal media who have simply lost touch with reality when the headline reads "John Edwards Cheats on Wife With Cancer" and they ask with great detachment whether he'll be able to run for office again soon. These people's morality is so bizarre that they showed more outrage at John McCain featuring a picture of Paris Hilton in a commercial for two eye-blinks than for Edwards catting around on a dying spouse.
For months (and more hotly in the last two weeks), the National Enquirer has been trickling out the goods they collected on John Edwards having an affair and possibly a love child with campaign aide Rielle Hunter, staking out Edwards in a California hotel – and how he hid in the bathroom to avoid them.
There's a quick campaign ad on the two parties in a nutshell. Republican George Bush took on Osama bin Laden and took out Saddam Hussein. Democrat John Edwards hides in a bathroom from the tabloids.
Newsweek’s love for Barack Obama knows no bounds. After Obama’s speech in Berlin, Newsweek published a headline that suggests an editor who’s spent six days drunk on a merry-go-round: "Obama’s Reagan Moment." That deserves the Lloyd Bentsen retort: "I knew Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan was a friend of mine. Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan."
The Newsweek piece sneered that while Obama and John Kennedy spoke to more than a hundred thousand people, Reagan spoke to a much smaller audience, "only about 20,000," and they were outnumbered by leftist protesters the night before. They recalled, "Even some of Reagan’s aides were embarrassed by the ‘tear down this wall’ line thinking it was too provocative or grandiose." Newsweek would concede only that "Reagan understood stagecraft," and communism’s fall "made his words prescient."
In other words, the Gipper was a showboat who got lucky.
John McCain has figured out that one way to build enthusiasm among conservatives is to confront his former best friends in the liberal media. As the media glorify Barack Obama the "statesman" on his trip abroad, with the three network anchors lining up for interviews like a gaggle of smitten fan-club presidents, the McCain campaign suddenly acquired a surprising "Annoy The Media" flavor.
Like many Obama-loving press outlets, Newsweek has reported that McCain’s campaign is struggling against an Obama crusade that seems "blessed by destiny." This spin is maddening. The Obama campaign has been blessed by a media that arrogantly aspires to be the manufacturers of our destiny, and make history by beating the electorate senseless with glowing Obama coverage.
McCain is learning that the best way to fight the "destiny" makers is to take them on directly. The Drudge Report revealed that after The New York Times published an op-ed by Obama on July 14 laying out his thoughts on Iraq, McCain submitted an op-ed in reply. But the Times rejected it. David Shipley, the deputy editorial page editor, suggested that McCain’s article wasn’t constructive enough to publish.
In the groves of academe, studying popular culture is often the preserve of nutty left-wing professors performing exotic Marxist autopsies on the imperialist dynamics of Donald Duck comic books. Academic conservatives are teaching and writing about Homer the Greek poet, not the cartoon, which is important but oftentimes leaves their audience without a learned guide to analyze the themes of our modern culture.
Fortunately, there is Thomas Hibbs, a professor of ethics and culture at Baylor University – and a film critic for National Review Online. Earlier this year, the Spence Publishing folks in Dallas published a valuable and fascinating book by the professor called "Arts of Darkness: American Noir and the Quest for Redemption."
The news of Tony Snow’s death wasn’t wholly unexpected, but it’s still devastating. Tony was a man brimming with optimism and you just felt that if anyone could beat this cancer, he could do it. He was an absolute professional in his craft and always, always a gentleman.
The conservative movement is diminished today and anyone who knew him is heartbroken for his wife, Jill, and his three children Kendall, Robbie, and Kristi.
Conservatives across America mourned at the news of the death of Senator Jesse Helms, a man credited with impeccable conservative credentials in the U.S. Senate, a conscience of a movement devoted to the defeat of communism abroad and the defense of liberty at home. He was the staunchest of social conservatives as well, unflinching in his opposition to the abortion lobby and the gay agenda.
To liberals he was "Senator No," which meant only that he would strongly oppose everything they wanted to impose on America. Their badly disguised loathing of Helms, well-expressed over the decades, only endeared him to conservatives all the more.
Jesse Helms relished that opposition. In 1990, the media declared him politically dead, his re-election an utter impossibility. On election night, a thousand cheering supporters were made to wait before their man finally emerged to declare victory, 20 minutes late. He opened his remarks by apologizing for his tardiness. "Ah was up in mah room," he explained, "ah had to watch the grievin’ face of Dan Rathuh when he had to say we’d won agin." The crowd went wild.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy reported last month that a teenager who has been depressed in the past year was more than twice as likely to have used marijuana than teenagers who have not reported being depressed (25 percent compared with 12 percent). The study said marijuana use increased the risk of developing mental disorders by 40 percent. So much for the "harmless" nature of pot.
There are more worrisome statistics still. The 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that among Americans age 12 and older there were 14.8 million current users of marijuana and 4.2 million Americans classified with dependency or abuse of marijuana. Addiction is a real threat. Another 2006 report found 16.1 percent of drug treatment admissions were for marijuana as the primary drug of abuse. This compares to six percent in 1992.
There surely are multiple reasons to explain the increasing use of this drug. But one reason for the trend is surely its glamorization by Hollywood, which thinks marijuana is a fun-and-games subject.
In the thick of the fight over the wrong Reverend Wright, Barack Obama put on his annoyed face and said the whole issue of his preacher’s hate speech was a distraction from the real issues, like health care and education and war. So many in the media were quick to agree. But now that the primaries are over, the network news crews aren’t covering the issues. They’re warbling a happy tune about all of Barack and Michelle Obama’s wonderful personal qualities.
Think of all the inane stories designed to boost the picture of Obama being loaded with charisma and momentum. All “news” that is good is presented with great enthusiasm – like the utterly unsurprising and uninspiring endorsement by Al Gore. All news that is bad is buried -- or if that seems too obvious, it’s mentioned briefly and then killed and buried.
Everyone loves a person who makes you laugh, and you naturally mourn when a comedian passes away. George Carlin made a lot of people laugh with his observational humor, and we’re saddened by the loss. But the media appreciations of Carlin hailed him for his daring in “crossing the line” of good taste. This was not something to be celebrated.
The nation’s top newspapers added some depth. Paul Farhi in The Washington Post noted two Carlin comic personalities. There was Gentle George, the absurdist who made fun of language, even the sound of words like “yogurt.” He was riotous fun. Then came Angry George, the one who “sprayed comic acid on whatever moved across the front page.”
The general election season is under way, and the leftists are already displaying their hypocrisy. They’ve launched pre-emptive warnings against a Republican "swiftboating" of Barack Obama at the same time they’re making up wild allegations about the villainous ultraconservative plots against goodness planned by John McCain. The supposed civility police in the media are emphasizing the Obama warnings of a right-wing onslaught, but not the nasty leftist attacks on McCain. Once again, Republicans are painted as the agents of character assassination, while Democrats are angels whose style is sweet civility and whose substance is the refreshing truth.
Obama’s campaign is putting up its dukes with a new website called "Fight the Smears." It’s topped by an inspirational quote from Obama’s June 3 victory speech. "What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge or patriotism as a bludgeon." In the words of the Almighty Barack, Team Obama pledges to steer clear of negative personal attacks, and avoid seeing their opponents "not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first."
The day after Al Gore endorsed Barack Obama in Detroit, MSNBC kept repeating the allegedly big news with the on-air question "Will Gore Help or Hurt Obama?" Left out of that question: Who cares? Does Gore’s endorsement matter at all?
Pundits usually declare in today’s media-saturated world that endorsements from major politicians or movie stars just don’t have much impact. A Who’s Who of the Beautiful People in Hollywood endorsed and actively campaigned for John Kerry – and had no impact.
With Al Gore it’s the same thing. He doesn’t bring a single vote Obama doesn’t already have. He could have participated in the process but he waited until the primary challenge from Hillary was over. Now he supports Obama. Where in the world is the news there?