Tuesday, November 04, 2008

McCain & the Press

My mother was complaining to me the other day about McCain's unfair treatment in the press, claiming everything from Saturday Night Live to Cable News and the local paper were all being horribly unfair to the old Senator from Arizona in the days up to the election.

I immediately inferred that my mom hasn't been watching enough FOX News lately. But while I found some of her specific complaints and citations to be unwarrantable, I did have to concede that the most of what I see and have seen, both in the news and the media at large seems to be favoring Obama in one way or another. The first explanation I would offer is that Obama's campaign has brilliantly managed their message and communication, both to the press and the public at large.

Still, there is the undeniable general media bias that does tilt somewhat to the left. But as this op-ed piece written by journalists suggests, there are numerous other factors at play.

And while I think the article probably downplays the liberal bias, a lot of what the article says probably has real merit. He makes a good case especially for the sources that leak information. He also explains the axiom of making an artificial bias simply for the sake of appearing unbiased. Despite the media's bias towards Obama and by publishing something favorable about him, you can only do so much to write something favorable about the other guy, especially when it is completely unwarranted. The same is probably plaguing president Bush right now. There are only so many ways a reporter can be "fair and balanced" about an epic fail.

Adding my two cents, repeated reports that McCain is constantly limiting the press' access to him probably isn't helping him. Few would deny that during (and even after) his 2000 bid in the primaries, the press loved McCain for his "straight talk" and for his constantly talking to the press on his campaign bus.

Moreover, the news media, as much as they might feign to be otherwise, is simply a cog of the larger entertainment industry. As such, it sells drama, which the McCain campaign has given us in abundance when compared to the Obama camp. Obama and his team seem to be running a really tight ship with almost nothing leaking to the press. They're controlling the message they give out and they're good at communicating that message to the press on the terms they dictate. But as you can see, reports are surfacing inside the McCain camp of Palin "going rogue" along with other rumored tidbits of internal conflict and friction. As the authors of this article point out, this wouldn't be happening were journalists' sources not leaking information.

Why McCain is Getting Hosed in the Press

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