The Great Media Coup(s?)

Whom the media made president, they can unmake.

To anyone who paid attention to election news other than what's on TV, there's not the slightest question that the mainstream media were wholeheartedly in support of Mr. Obama's candidacy, to the point of engaging in wanton disregard of fairness, decency, truth, dignity, our country's future, or their own reputations.  Apparently there are a fair number of people who've become aware of this; as we've discussed before, almost half of Americans consider the media to be hopelessly biased.  The proof of this bias is so overwhelming as to require no repetition; it's not even worthy of an article by the old standard of a "dog bites man" story.

What is news, on the other hand, is that at least some members of the media have realized this and are saying so.  No less a personage than Deborah Howell, the ombudsman of the newspaper of government Washington Post, came out with a column all but damning the work of her own employer in the clearest possible terms.

The Post provided a lot of good campaign coverage, but readers have been consistently critical of the lack of probing issues coverage and what they saw as a tilt toward Democrat Barack Obama. My surveys, which ended on Election Day, show that they are right on both counts. [emphasis added]

In a free country undergoing a democratic election, what is the purpose of the free press?  There is only one, and it's represented by the long-ignored slogan of the New York Times: "All the News that's Fit to Print."

Never has there been an American election in which the media so utterly failed in their mission, in both directions.  They certainly didn't cover anything like all the news, whether it be the truth about Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, and sundry other terrorists and Marxists of long association with Mr. Obama; nor, on the other side, did they restrict themselves to what's fit to print, happily printing unfounded rumors about an affair McCain did not have with a lobbyist, decades-old tales about Cindy McCain's drug prescriptions, and flat-out falsehoods about both candidates' positions to trash the one and halo the other.

For all practical purposes, the entirety of the mainstream American media served as nothing more than the spokesmen of the Democratic party in general and Barack Hussein Obama in particular.  It's nice that Ms. Howell has seen fit to take notice of this, at long last; it's hard not to also see that she saw fit to do so in her very first column after Mr. Obama safely won the election and the issue became moot.

Why did she even bother?  Wouldn't it make more sense for the media simply to claim the credit it so richly deserves for being the ones who put Mr. Obama on his throne?

Not really.  Because unlike many other industries, the media really does depend on freedom.

Were there media in the USSR?  Sure there were; there was national TV, the wire service TASS, and national newspapers like the famous Pravda (truth) and Isvestia (news), of whom Russians made the joke that "there's no news in the Truth, and no truth in the News."

But was anyone involved with these organizations a lavishly-paid celebrity such as our media overflow with?  What about lavishly paid presidents, executive VPs, producers, and everyone else on down?  No; "journalists" in a one-party state are nothing more than lowly apparatchiks who do little more than take dictation from their masters in political offices.  Nobody cares what they have to say or reads them unless they have to for political reasons; the only use for their work is to line a bird cage or wrap fishes.

Our talking heads may not ever say this, but they know it, at least on some level.  They have occasion to know it more surely each day, as their revenues and circulation plummet ever deeper towards the abyss of bankruptcy.  There is no money to be made by reporting news, as such; the money comes from advertisers who pay to have their products presented to people who choose to watch or read the news.

No major magazine survives on subscription revenue alone, but there are countless publications which are distributed free - they live entirely by their ads, whose sales are based on people's willingness to read them.

The fewer people who trust the media, the fewer (and more cursorily) they watch or read it, the less impact the ads have, and the less they're worth.  No advertising money equals no fancy Learjets, no more hot administrative-assistants, and most of all, no hobnobbing with the world's great and good.  If the members of the media wish to retain the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed, then no matter what their personal biases might be, they somehow have to persuade people to pay attention to them intently enough to respond to the advertising.

Did the media want Mr. Obama to win?  Of course they did.  Do they want him to succeed?  Of course they do - whether by accident or by design, their credibility is now entirely bound up in his success.

Unless, that is, they are the ones to bring him down.

Think about it for a moment.  The media put Mr. Obama in the White House, and everybody knows it.  Right now, many people hate Mr. Bush and many people love Mr. Obama, largely at the behest of the media.

If Mr. Obama does a great job as President, the fact that the media put him there will be to their credit: they overcame our skepticism and provided us with a Great Leader.  If, on the other hand, Mr. Obama destroys this country as conservatives expect, that can't be hidden for eight years, much less for all of future history - and the media will rightly be blamed.

However, if the media actually hold Mr. Obama to account - that is, shouts out every bad thing he plans before he does it and rips him apart when he does it anyway - their credibility will not suffer by his failure, and may even be built up by it.  So the wisest course for our media would be that which we least expect, a complete about-face from their recent hagiography.

Is it likely?  Well, it would require them to abandon every political principle that the individual media members personally believe.

Journalists have long been revealed as almost unanimously liberal.  Mr. Obama's liberal instincts will ruin our economy, our national defense, our country, and ultimately his presidency just as surely as Mr. Carter's liberal instincts ruined his presidency.  What do journalists value more?  Their credibility, and the audience, fame, and money that ride on it?  Or their liberal political views?

We think we know which - we think that they'll cling to their liberal political views to the bitter end.  Those have already led to one media coup, in which a Marxist now claims the White House under false pretenses thanks to gross negligence if not active conspiracy by our media.  Their only way out of this trap is another coup - not terribly likely.

Rupert Murdoch, the hated but incredibly successful media magnate who owns many outlets noted for being not as transparently liberal as the rest - and, unlike the rest, actually growing in audience and making money - made a very interesting comment on the financial losses of his competitors:

My summary of the way some of the established media has responded to the internet is this: it's not newspapers that might become obsolete. It's some of the editors, reporters, and proprietors who are forgetting a newspaper's most precious asset: the bond with its readers[emphasis added]

That about sums it up.  The media has demonstrated to all that they cannot be trusted.  Will they attempt to regain this trust and achieve some semblance of fairness and balance going forward?

And if not, what will happen to them, and us?  There's no such thing as a good coup - for the plotters, or for anyone else.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments
I haven't been around for a couple weeks and I'm just now getting caught up on the articles here - and I am finding myself rather amused that the writers here at Scragged are echoing (more eloquently and in greater detail) what I have been saying for the past year.

At this point, it's about half of the American public that sees the bias. How many do you think will see it in 2 years? In 4?

It goes back to what I've been saying: Although it will be hell for a few years, the Obama presidency is the best thing for the country. He will fail dismally, and the media will continue to adore him, and even the most oblivious citizen will come to realize that the media can't be trusted and leftist socialist ideas don't work.

Of course, we can only really recover if the Republicans can field a real conservative. Therein lies my fear: I'm beginning to believe they won't.
November 25, 2008 12:21 PM
Sigh, so many myths to debunk, and so little time. :-(

If I get a chance, I'll weigh in at another time.
December 20, 2008 11:41 AM
Although it will be hell for a few years, the Obama presidency is the best thing for the country. He will fail dismally, and the media will continue to adore him, and even the most oblivious citizen will come to realize that the media can't be trusted and leftist socialist ideas don't work.
April 1, 2010 7:29 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...