Figuring out how best to respond to the corporate media’s love affair with John McCain isn’t just the question of the day: it’s the question of this campaign.
McCain has a lot of things going against him in this race, from the way he’s joined at the hip to George W. Bush, to subtler issues such as his age (oldfartgate anyone?). But he has one huge advantage: the establishment media, with all of its power, is head over heels in love with him. It always has been. Indeed, he once famously described the media as “my base.”
You can bet the farm that if McCain wins this year, it will be largely because of how the media covers the race.
But then what else is new? This is, after all, the same corporate media that bought into the GOP’s “Al Gore’s a pathological liar” fairy tale hook, line and sinker back in 2000.
And, yes, it’s the same major corporate media that was more than happy to act as a press agent for the Swift Boat Liars in 2004.
But then, as a number of media types ultimately confessed, major media reporters and pundits just didn’t like either Al Gore or John Kerry. They viewed them as aloof and insufficiently solicitous. So naturally, taking them down a notch or two was more important than the health and welfare of the country. Besides, as we all know, George W. Bush was the sort of guy you’d like to have a beer with and, thus, was clearly the better choice for president.
And what about this year? Well, we’re barely into the general election campaign and already media hotshots are complaining about the way Obama’s campaign is treating them (and, yes, they even use the word aloof — the more things change, the more they . . .). Meanwhile, in what is, no doubt, a harbinger of things to come, they are already busy showering affection on McCain.
Face it: like it or not, the media’s love affair with John McCain is a fact. The only question is what we can do about it.
Obama’s ability to raise historically large piles of cash (he may raise as much as a half-a-billion dollars according to some predictions), obviously, will be a big help. It’s a lot easier going over the media’s head directly to the people when you have an almost unlimited checkbook. So, as crass as it may seem, one thing Obama supporters have to do is to continue dipping into our checking accounts.
But we can do a lot more than that. We can commit our own voices to holding the major media accountable. When the coverage is unfair, we need to scream at the top of our lungs. The right wing has been doing it for years, “working the refs” with great success. This time it’s our turn.
Organizations like Media Matters and MoveOn.org (and progressive bloggers) will help, but there’s a lot individuals can do. We need to shower media outlets with letters and emails every time a biased report appears. Hell, I’m not against people politely confronting reporters and pundits in person on the campaign trail (or on their book tours), demanding to know why they’re going so much easier on McCain than Obama. Then there’s just the simple business of speaking the truth in our personal lives. When a friend, relative or acquaintance spouts off some BS McCain talking point picked up from the media, don’t just say, “Screw it, it’s not worth the hassle.” Make the extra effort to set the record straight.
That’s how real change occurs, after all — one hard fought conversion after another.
This country belongs to us, not Time Warner, General Electric or any of the other huge media conglomerates. This year, for a change, let’s let them know that we know it.