Marc Ambinder: 'Media Is Going to Help the Democratic Party's National Messaging'

September 19th, 2010 10:22 PM

In a September 15 post-primary item at the Atlantic ("An Epic End to the Primaries: What It Means"), politics editor Marc Ambinder presented seven "different ways to look at the primaries of September 14, 2010."

His final item reads as follows (bold is mine):

7. The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging, which is that the GOP is a party full of Christine O'Donnells, a party that wants to take away your Social Security and your right to masturbate. Well, maybe not that last part, but then again, the implicit message of the party is that the GOP is about to elect a slate of hard social rightists to Congress.

The bolded text is an obvious point to anyone with even the most rudimentary powers of observation, but it's a pretty interesting admission nonetheless. That's especially true because Ambinder is a bona fide member of the media. Indeed, he's a self-admitted Journolist member who despite (or perhaps because) of that involvement has a specific assignment involving covering this fall's elections.

On August 27, CBS announced its 2010 campaign coverage team. Marc Ambinder is on that team (HT Media Bistro):

Chief Political Consultant Marc Ambinder and Political Analyst and Contributor John Dickerson will join a veteran group led by CBS EVENING NEWS Anchor and Managing Editor Katie Couric that includes Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer, Senior Political Correspondent Jeff Greenfield and Correspondents Wyatt Andrews, Sharyl Attkisson, Jan Crawford, Nancy Cordes, Byron Pitts, Bill Plante, Chip Reid, Dean Reynolds and Political Analyst Dan Bartlett. Anthony Mason will once again help break down and analyze election night results for CBS's viewers.

"This already is one of the most-anticipated midterm elections in a generation, and CBS News is adding exceptional talent to offer our audiences comprehensive coverage in a complex and exciting political environment," said McManus. "Complementing the award-winning tradition of CBS News with the latest technology, our remarkable team will completely cover all aspects of this pivotal election season."

Other items in Ambinder's seven-pointer at the Atlantic give further clues as to where he stands:

3. I understand why some Republicans are trying to point out that Democrats are "crazy" too by noting how they re-nominated Rep. Charles Rangel in NY 15 and kicked out reformist mayor Adrian Fenty in Washington. That dog won't hunt.

6. Expect an uptick in Democratic enthusiasm and expect several significant races to tighten. People tend to make judgments through the lens of the last major event. If Democrats interpret last night to mean that radical Republicans are threatening to take control, they're going to be more receptive to the basic party message.

Of course Ambinder's entitled to his opinions, but facts on the ground appear to be contradicting them:

  • As to his Point 3, the voters in Rangel's district may or may not be crazy, but at least you can say that 49% of those who cast ballots voted for someone else. If you want evidence of Democratic "craziness," how about the fact that Rangel got "endorsements and phone calls to voters" from former president Bill Clinton and pretend-Independent Mike Bloomberg?
  • As to Point 6, maybe an enthusiasm uptick is on the way, but it's missing so far. Two separate items from the Associated Press, which would surely jump on any hint of the real thing happening, demonstrate that it's not here yet. The AP's Mark S. Smith, in a report on President Obama's Saturday speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, specifically cited "polls showing his party facing a wide 'enthusiasm gap' with the GOP," and pollsters' warnings "that blacks are among the key Democratic groups who right now seem unlikely to turn out in large numbers in November." In a Sunday morning submission, the AP's Julie Hirschfeld Davis noted that "in dozens of competitive districts ... enthusiasm for the president is at a low; even some of his strongest backers aren't motivated to go to the polls."

As if anyone needed further reinforcement, here is a passage from a year-ago post by Jeff Poor at NewsBusters addressing Ambinder's opinion of Sarah Palin's qualifications to express an opinion about ObamaCare's "comparative effectiveness" regime (which was actually enshrined into law as part of the February 2009 stimulus bill nobody read), aka "Death Panels," in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:

One left-leaning pundit has questioned if Palin was qualified to interject herself into the debate. Marc Ambinder wrote on the Atlantic Web site on Sept. 8 (that) the media shouldn't take her Journal op-ed seriously because she doesn't have the policy "chops" to take on this issue.

"Palin has policy credibility problems. Big ones," Ambinder wrote. "A few op-eds aren't going to help her. But if the media treats her as as [sic] a legitimate and influential voice today, she won't need to do the hard work that will result in her learning more about policy and actually becoming conversant in the issues that she, as a potential presidential candidate, will deal with."

However, the argument could made that Palin, with a baby with Down Syndrome, does have real-life expertise dealing with the American health care system. And her position as governor of Alaska makes her qualified to give insight into the bureaucratization of any part of the public sector, despite Ambinder's calls to dismiss her as a serious voice in the health care debate.

That was a great final point by Jeff. Apparently in Ambinder's world, personal experience with medical challenges and dealing with the medical care delivery system don't count. Ah, but serving in policy roles that lead to ghoulish ideas like Zeke the Bleak Emanuel's "complete lives system," whose priorities for allocating care include "youngest-first, prognosis, save the most lives, lottery, and instrumental value" (i.e., a death panels regime) -- that's great stuff.

Ambinder is indeed correct in his assertion that "The media is going to help the Democratic Party's national messaging." It appears pretty likely that he'll be serving as a willing provider of such assistance, and that his ability to deliver objective commentary as a CBS "Chief Political Consultant" is highly suspect.

The presence of folks like Ambinder at CBS goes a long way towards explaining why it seems likely that most viewers will be getting their election news somewhere else during the next seven weeks.

Cross-posted at