On Thursday, The New Republic published an article entitled "End of the Affair." The article details how the press believes the Obama camp is behaving secretively, arrogantly, and carrying itself with a sense of unearned entitlement.
The love, it seems, is over. But so what? The end of a media affair with a politician shouldn't be a time of mourning, anger, and despair. It is a time that should be celebrated because it means the media has regained its senses. Perhaps, finally, the media will focus on voting records and campaign platforms instead of trivialities like flag pins.
The problem isn't that the press is in the bag for Obama or McCain, though both are true depending on the time and the respective newspaper or network. The problem is that the media has forgotten what objectivity means. Objectivity isn't harping on ridiculous trivialities in both camps. Objectivity is seeing past the spin game and finding the real story (FISA, Iran, energy independence, and the economy).
In journalism, there is no room for love or loyalty toward candidates. Candidate love affairs begin when the press becomes desperate for access. When a candidate like John McCain grants the press unlimited access to his office, the press begins to behave like slutty cheerleaders around the Quarterback. They're just, like, so TOTALLY grateful!! Then, somehow they end up on their knees. They're not sure how.
Or the press confuses itself with entertainment programming. News networks grow bored with the same song and dance every four years, and so they become antsy. Their advertisers want thrilling action stories, sex scandals, and new political blood. They want a new tall, dark stranger to saunter into their lives and shake things up.
Barack Obama is an advertiser's wet dream and he is also the media's ideal candidate. He's the American dream defined, but he is also charming, handsome, and a much needed break from old, tired, white, privileged, and other synonyms for John McCain. Though he never granted the press as much access as McCain did, Obama knew how to work a room. The press practically threw their panties at him whenever he quipped from the podium.
Basically, the media wants to be nice to the guy who was nice to them. Though, that's missing the point of having a press in the first place. Politicians are obligated to be open with the press, but if they choose not to be open, then it's up to journalists to break down the walls and get the information to the people. Otherwise, our democracy is screwed.
A journalist shouldn't schmooze at cocktail parties or go on private golfing retreats with Congressional representatives. A journalist should be the hated outcast. A journalist should inspire fear in politicians. Congressman Smith should feel a cold shiver travel up his spine when he sees a reporter storming through the halls of the Capitol. If politicians don't fear journalists, then the scale of our society is tipped in favor of the corrupt.
Both Obama and McCain enjoy portraying themselves as victims of spin, and they are, but they've also enjoyed positive media attention in the past. The truth is that the media has endured love affairs with both candidates. The media has also regurgitated petty, trivial speculations about Michelle Obama's opinions about America and John McCain's ex-wife, so both candidates have been the victims of "love blowback."
Love blowback is when the media snaps out of its daze, reporters realize they've been humping a candidate's leg for eight months, and so they attack the jugular in hopes of seeming "balanced." Firedoglake speculates that the media ended its love affair with McCain when he treaded too close to the president's ideologies and lost his Maverick appeal.
Obama's "Love blowback" is more complicated. For months, the media has been fascinated by his dream story, including Chris Matthews, who virtually masturbated on air after one of the Senator's speeches. Embarrassed by their behavior, the media now seems hellbent on attacking everything the Senator does now. Sometimes, as with his behavior over FISA, Obama deserves it. Other times, like the ridiculous fixation on Michelle Obama's "radical behavior" smack of fear-based, juvenile smear campaigns, not launched by some nefarious cave troll like Karl Rove, but by the "independent media."
Such blowback isn't balanced. It's the lowest form of tabloid, junk journalism. It's staggering from one extreme to the other in hopes of striking a true chord somewhere along the way. No wonder the American public is so ill-informed, confused, and pissed off. Who are they supposed to trust when the media is so bipolar in its treatment of candidates?
I can't even call this stuff evil. It's silly. Journalists seem to be working stories in reverse where they reach conclusions about a candidate and then rummage around for bits of information to support their latest opinions. One month they decide they're in love with John McCain, and so they report every positive news item supporting that temporary opinion. The next month they hate Barack Obama, and so every network carries a story about "radical" Michelle Obama.
Call us the Land of the Gossip. It's no wonder grassroots, independent news blogs have sprung up across the internet. With this kind of tabloid, junk journalism, we'll need them. There's no place to go but up.
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