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Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and What's Wrong with the Mainstream Media

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My friend Jack Farrell has an insightful post over at Robert Emmet deconstructing what the media is doing wrong this election cycle.

The underlying assumptions of Brown's question are: Americans are stupid. Americans are lazy. Any suggestion that does not treat Americans as stupid and lazy is politically risky. This international economy thing isn't too important. Foreigners are bad. All foreign cultures are inferior. Education is a drag. Obama is foreign. The nominee of the Democratic Party needs to persuade Americans that he is American. By urging citizens to unite, learn and work hard in school, Obama is an elitist. Learning is a foreign value. Any suggestion that America needs improvement will be viewed by dumb, cowed voters as unpatriotic.

I guess I should not pick on Campbell. The horse race is fun. We like to tout here at Robert Emmet.

But the whole CNN-MSNBC-Fox thing has taken on a life of its own.

How much cleavage will the Fox blonds show? Will obnoxious Keith and bully Bill come to blows out by the hot tub? Will Chris get voted off the air? Did Donna and Paul make up?

It's like some awful, hideous reality show.

There's more of course: The cable nets have "strategists" on to fill time by regurgitating whatever are the day's campaign talking points. (They'd do better to be clear about it: "Today we have Democratic strategist Jane Smith. Jane, what are Barack Obama's talking points on Iraq today?" "Well Bob, today's message of the day is about health care, so I'm going to ignore your question and read the health care talking points.")

And they either willfully or stupidly ignore the reality of what's going on in favor of whichever party's interpretation will generate the most controversy. (Note to media: Wes Clark didn't denigrate John McCain's military record, he simply said that it didn't qualify him for the presidency; you can be a hero without it imparting special presidential qualifications.)

And of course it's all exacerbated by the media echo chamber. People point to the bloviators' treatment of Hillary Clinton as an example of how sexism undermined her campaign. But while the media (including this writer) set all watch this stuff consistently, does it reach through to the bulk of voters?

That might sound like an argument against Farrell -- if no one watches the inanity of the cable nets, who cares how dumb it is? -- but the fact is that it informs and distorts how the media who do get read or watched cover the election.