Very early on in the 2008 presidential election cycle I decided that I needed to produce a documentary film called “Media Malpractice” about the unprecedented media bias that I was sure would result in Barack Obama’s election. In May of that year I purchased the website URL HowObamaGotElected.com for that purpose.
In addition to the successful and very well received film, we put out two rather well known You Tube videos before the movie was completed.
The first was a video of a dozen Obama voters trying in vain to answer basic questions about the campaign on Election Day. The second was a news-making interview with then Governor Sarah Palin in what is still by far the most extensive interview she has ever given about the 2008 election. Combined, various versions of those videos have been seen by well over five million people on You Tube and millions more on various national television outlets.
I made “Media Malpractice” for two basic reasons. First, to correct the historical record about what actually happened with regard to the outrageous media coverage in 2008. Secondly, to try and educate people about how Obama really got elected so that it might not happen again in 2012.
Now that we are on the verge of knowing whether President Obama will, in fact, be reelected, I thought it might be useful to revisit the many intriguing characters in my film and see how things have changed for them in the last four years.
I get asked all the time about the dozen Obama voters who I interviewed four years ago. Conservatives always want to know whether any of them have “seen the light” about their false Messiah. Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, I have no evidence that they have.
Recently, I was able to track down 10 of the 12. Of those, eight said that they will be voting again for Obama. Two were either undecided or, perhaps more likely, just didn’t want to tell me for fear of being embarrassed again. But to be fair, this is hardly a representative sample. I purposely found ardent Obama supporters to speak to back then, so I would have been shocked if any of them voted for Romney this time around. One did humor me by saying that they did think that the media was indeed biased in favor of Obama.
Far more interesting is the dramatic shift in career fortunes for many of the media figures who also appear in the film.
In fact, a clear majority of those highlighted in the documentary are in substantially different places than they were when they played pivotal roles during the 2008 election.
Keith Olbermann hasn’t been heard from at all since he got fired from his second gig since 2008 (and no one seemed to mind!). Katie Couric is now doing a cotton-candy day time talk show where, instead of doing election-impacting interviews, she is thrilled to sit down with a Kate Middleton lookalike. Oprah Winfrey, who almost literally gave birth to the Obama 2008 phenomenon, no longer has a daily show and her network is in disarray.
Ann Curry is no longer winking at Joe Biden as a co-host on the Today Show. Campbell Brown doesn’t have a show on CNN on which to obsess about the cost of Sarah Palin’s clothes. David Shuster no longer has one on MSNBC where he can be the poor man’s Olbermann. Harry Smith isn’t shedding tears of joy for Obama on the Early Show on CBS. Charlie Gibson is out of the anchor chair at ABC’s World News Tonight and can no longer give condescending looks over his eye glasses to Palin.
Lee Cowan (who, when I ran into him after Obama’s victory and congratulated him on the results of the election, actually thanked me!) isn’t the Obama beat reporter for NBC this time around. Major Garrett isn’t the Obama beat reporter at Fox News and is no longer with the network. Somehow, John Roberts went from CNN (where he bragged to Obama on air that his show was a “Reverend Wright Free Zone”) to Fox News where he has suddenly become far more objective.
Jay Carney has gone from pretending to be objective at Time magazine to now officially lying on behalf of Obama as the White House press secretary. Rick Sanchez was fired at CNN and is now broadcasting low level college football games. Alan Colmes still sort of works at Fox News, but not really.
Tim Russert sadly passed away. Larry King finally retired. Anderson Cooper is now officially gay, but is about to lose a daytime talk show.
Tina Fey isn’t on Saturday Night Live and is no longer winning awards for 30 Rock, which appears to finally be winding down. Sarah Palin is no longer a governor and was last seen as a human prop on Dancing with the Stars as she emotionally watched her daughter Bristol voted off the show.
While many of the key figures who played important roles in Obama’s election are no longer in places of influence this time around, the same sort of bias is still very much at work.
By far the greatest example of this reality is obviously how the media has handled the Benghazi story. It is breathtaking how they have purposely prevented (I have often maintained that in the modern area the most effective and easily perpetrated form of media bias is that of ‘omission”) coverage of this scandal from seeping into the consciousness of the average voter. There is zero doubt that if a Republican were running for reelection, not even Hurricane Sandy could have wiped this story off the top of his priority list.
If Obama does win, I think the key moment will be Candy Crowley bailing him out during the second debate in one of the most impactful acts of media malpractice I have ever witnessed (especially since she basically admitted Romney was right after the debate). It is clear the Romney camp was spooked by that episode and essentially dropped the issue after that. Unfortunately, I think it is quite possible that this incident ends up making the difference in the race.
With the understanding that this is by far the most difficult presidential election of my lifetime in which to make a prediction, going into the final days I believe that Romney will win the popular vote, but that Obama will eek out a win in either Ohio or Virginia to prevail in the Electoral College.
I sincerely hope that I am wrong, but if I am not, there is no doubt that it will be the media which provided Obama’s margin of victory.