If the year 2000 belongs to the Supreme Court, then 2008 belongs to the media. This year will go down as the one when the mainstream media worked over time to sabotage the Democratic primary.
For months, Senator Barack Obama has been the undisputed front runner. Even before this week’s decisive primary races in Guam, North Carolina and Indiana, he was ahead in the delegates count (1748 as compared to Clinton’s 1609, according to realclearpolitics.com).
He’s been ahead by a comfortable margin in the popular vote. He’s raised more money than anyone, with no sign of letting up. And as if that weren’t enough, he’s ignited record youth voter turnouts in one state after another all year.
By now, in any other election, the Democratic Party would have strongly encouraged the losing candidate to concede. The only logical reason why they haven’t—especially since Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning—is because Party leaders don’t want to accept Obama as their candidate. The party’s failure to accept the front-runner has created an opening for the media to take him down.
Because of decisions made in elite newsrooms, for six weeks the nation’s attention has been focused on the pastor of the frontrunner. The magnitude of coverage for someone on the periphery of a major election, such as Wright, is unprecedented.
Let’s be clear: the media gave Jeremiah Wright national coverage for a speech at the NAACP convention the day after a heavily publicized PBS appearance. In recent history, I don’t ever recall the media giving ‘breaking news’ live coverage to any Black Civil Rights organization. Even President Bill Clinton’s 1992 chastisement of Sista Souljah at the Rainbow Coalition gathering was witnessed via played back sound bites.
The next day, plenty of stories warranted national coverage: record gas prices, the acquittal of New York police officers who fired 50 shots at an unarmed man, and American casualties in Iraq. Instead, you guessed it, the retired pastor’s press event topped headlines.
Those who accept as benign our media’s highly irregular focus on Reverend Wright, will say that he is news and that his being Obama’s minister, past or present, makes his center stage coverage par for the course. But I don’t see the media giving any associate of any other candidate one iota of such treatment. What makes Obama, who less than two months ago was labeled a “free pass toting media darling,” so special?
A week after Obama denounced Wright, the Reverend’s name is still synonymous with Obama. As a result Obama was transformed before our eyes from a candidate of hope to the angry, elite, unelectable Black man.
Or so it seems the mainstream media hoped.
Pay close attention as the pendulum slowly swings away from silhouettes of the angry Black man to the kinder, gentler, smiling face of Senator Clinton, praise songs focused on her experience, high fives to her toughness, and one story after another (from CNN to Fox) that unashamedly adopted Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy as their news angle of the day.
As late as Monday, major news outlets were still at their sensational best, reporting on the latest polls that suggested Senator Clinton now has a better chance than Barack of beating McCain in the general election. The coverage suggested that the polls, not Obama’s comfortable lead, should determine whether or not Clinton remained a serious contender.
The final decision, according to the media—even after Obama again confirmed his position yesterday in North Carolina and Indiana—should come from superdelegates. This again, out of Clinton campaign strategy playbook.
Meanwhile those of us at home are seduced into a collective wait, hope, pray even, that Wright’s demonization or some other unforeseen glitch will finally pummel Obama into submission.
And at last the speculative focus on what could happen in this primary race, became a substitute for reporting what is happening.
Even if Obama wins, as some mainstream media outlets are now reluctantly conceding, the one-sided manipulative coverage we’ve collectively stomached is an international embarrassment, a huge disservice to the citizens of this country, and an enormous blow to the democratic process.