Thursday, September 4, 2008

How Dare We

I'm amazed at how politicians target the mainstream media outlets as being the root of everything evil. A reporter's role is to ask questions, get the facts and present accurate stories that inform and educate the public.
Politicians portray the media as "elite", "liberal" or "mainstream" or a combination thereof, like "mainstream liberal elite" media.
When John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his veep choice about one week ago, naturally people were curious. See, that's what happens when presidential candidates introduce their running mates - the people want to know about them.
So when journalists began poking around Alaska for information on Palin, they were bound to uncover a few skeletons in the governor's closet.
Some commentators asked about McCain's vetting process and how long it took for him to choose her. Others discovered that Palin's 17-year old daughter was pregnant. Others found out that as mayor, Palin talked about banning library books because some voters found the language offensive. Still others uncovered federal money earmarked to build the so-called "bridge to nowhere" was spent on infrastructure projects in Alaska instead.
I don't put any stock in television commentators. Most are shallow talking heads who come from broken homes and are still bedwetters. Yet the journalists who ask questions and want to know about Palin's record and her life should not apologize because they're doing their jobs. They're gathering information - unfiltered information - and presenting it to the public.
Yet the McCain camp is playing the old game of shoot the messenger and blaming the media for asking these questions. They call it unfair to Palin, that the liberal media is persecuting her for being a woman and asking such personal questions. They're saying that Joe Biden or Barrack Obama weren't held up to such scrutiny.
I'm tired of the "blame the media" tactics. It's really misdirection, telling people to target the media. After all, our job is to dig into a public official's record and report it to the public. See, unlike despotic regimes with state-run media and propaganda, our free press performs a public service and should treat all candidates equally.
But talk to the Republicans at their convention and they see it differently. To them, the hook-nosed Christ killers that run the liberal media covens are persecuting the darling of the conservative right.
Okay, I'm being sarcastic. Not all Jews control the media. Some are lawyers representing the media.
Still, I couldn't help but think Palin's speech, although not so eloquent as much as it was sniping, actually worked to revitalize her base. Like the Democrats, the Republicans used fear - fear that the voter will make the wrong choice on election day. The Democrats claim that by voting for McCain, America will spend the next thousand years in Iraq and an army of zombies will overrun our cities in the apocalypse. The Republicans claim that if the Democrats get elected, we'll still be in Iraq for a thousand years but the zombies overrunning our cities will be gay.
McCain had a cushy relationship with the media, but now the honeymoon is over. Once known for holding press conferences and having chummy conversations with reporters, McCain hasn't held a press conference in several weeks. The strategy in the McCain camp regarding the media is simple: a complete blackout of information and portraying reporters as the enemy.
They're claiming the media is biased because of the positive stories running about Obama. Commentators fawn over Obama and somewhere in the MSNBC newsroom they've built a statue of him and venerate it with offerings.
Real journalists take no sides. They also shouldn't be shills for any political party, left or right.
And real journalism, at its core, is the reproducing of objective information and facts. The media should not judge Palin over her record or her family. They shouldn't judge that she once said the war was a mission from God. They shouldn't tell the voters she hired a lawyer to fight the Troopergate incident. According to the McCain camp, the media should report the positive fluffy-wuffy happy news: that she likes mooseburgers and hunts and that her husband races snowmobiles and her son will serve in Iraq.
They think reporters should serve the politicians by supporting their views.
Unfortunately for them, I don't subscribe to this. I think the first defense against tyranny or corruption is a vigilant, free press.
Sorry for the intrusion, ma'am, but it's my job.

No comments: