Thursday, May 29, 2008
MSBNO: Obama Cheerleading Hurts Obama
Howling Latina can unequivocally attest that shilling and over the top manipulation by media and blog elites -- together with dishonest charges of racism by Obama surrogates persuaded her to endorse Hill. She knows when she is being stage-managed and doesn't like it one bit...
MSNBC's bias has actually hurt the Illinois senator. After all, it was the Obama cheerleading from MSNBC (among others) that helped lead to Clinton's New Hampshire comeback. And even if you think (as I do) that the Clintons have made too big of a deal out of the "sexist" and "unfair" portrayal their candidate has received in the press, if you watch enough MSNBC, you realize that their claim isn't without truth. How could you believe otherwise when Olbermann, with his trademark hauteur, told Hillary that "voluntarily or inadvertently, you are still awash in this filth [of the campaign]," or when Matthews took such self-evident glee in trouncing Clinton in between the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary? Similarly now, by mocking Clinton's decision to stay in the race, Olbermann has only bolstered her argument that "the boys" are trying to push her out. And finally, on a number of primary nights, but most notably in Pennsylvania and Ohio/Texas, MSNBC has become so excited by early exit polls that it has raised expectations that Obama ultimately could not live up to.
[A] downside quickly surfaced. Shuster's "pimping" remark and Matthews's crude (even if somewhat accurate) comment about the Monica Lewinsky scandal being a boon for Hillary's political career were notable precisely because they had nothing to do with policy or ideology. It wasn't as if Shuster and Matthews and Olbermann were siding with Obama on the issue of individual mandates. Rather, by giving "the personal" precedence over "the political," the network was using Hillary Hatred to fuel its coverage in a similar fashion to how Fox News uses Democrat Hatred to excite its viewers. But there is a distinction here that makes MSNBC's agenda almost more disquieting than Fox's. With Fox, I have to believe that most people know they're watching something that approximates GOP talking points (seeing an analyst like Paul Begala spin for Hillary on CNN doesn't really stick, either; everyone knows he's an apparatchik). With MSNBC, however, the bias is much harder to pin down. Does it stem from a personal vendetta? Sexism? Corporate diktat? Who knows? If an Obama presidency were to bomb in a way similar to George W. Bush's (unlikely, sure, but I'm speaking hypothetically here), it's difficult to imagine that MSNBC would treat Obama as reverentially as Fox still does Bush.
Dangerously, too, MSNBC's coverage can lead to a perverse sort of cognitive dissonance in viewers like, well, me. Throughout the primary process, I often found myself much more bullish on the Illinois Senator's chances after watching MSNBC than I had any reason to be. After Obama's Iowa victory, for instance, I remember hearing Matthews' description of a giant "wave" of Obamamania sweeping across the nation; surely, the race was over. Likewise, during the month of February, when Obama won eleven straight primaries, I recall watching the network and occasionally convincing myself that Clinton was certain to drop out before Texas and Ohio because her chances had become so diminished. The problem here is that when supposedly "straight" news anchors phrase questions in leading ways, and report one campaign's spin as if it were fact, it distorts what is actually going on in the campaign--even for those of us who make a living obsessing over and writing about politics. And when anchormen themselves shill for Obama, the distinction between his talking points and the truth grows even blurrier still. So, as much as I find MSNBC entertaining, their creation of a parallel, pro-Obama universe is the type of thing I'd expect of Fox. That's when I know it's time to change the channel.