Could you imagine the kind of zinger TJ could have delivered after witnessing the state of today’s media?
A recent Gallup poll shows that 60 percent of Americans have “little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly.” That’s a 14-point jump from the first time Gallup conducted the survey back in 1997.
Before the decade is over, expect that number to jump to 70 percent or higher. The decision by news publications and the cable news networks to deliver solely left or right perspective only reinforces the notion that the “journalism” seen and heard almost everywhere should be met with suspicion.
For a closer look, let’s use Obama-Romney II post-debate coverage as an example.
On MSNBC, you have five of six people “hosts” who are all hard-left opinion journalists, with Rachel Maddow playing the role of lead anchor (former McCain campaign head Steve Schmidt is there for balance). After the debate concluded, all reinforced what its audience wanted to hear: Praise for the President (“best debate of Obama’s career”), Romney dismissed (“Obama punched him hard”) and the moderator all but added to the short list of VP candidates for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
We all know conservative friends who will flip to MSNBC after an event like this out of an uncontrollable curiosity just to hear what the spin will be, only for them to write on Facebook or Tweet, “I watched Rachel Maddow for 10 seconds and had to flip the channel…couldn’t take it for even that long.”
Over on Fox News, no network comes close when firing up its audience over media bias, so going after Candy Crowley and her controversial decision to inject herself into the debate to support the President on a key point (before walking it back post-debate) was a no-brainer.
And we all know liberal friends who will flip to FOX after an event like this out of an uncontrollable curiosity…(see above and replace “Maddow” with “Hannity”).
On CNN, the big news wasn’t each candidate’s performance, the blistering exchanges or (gasp) any important ideas presented by either man that could affect voters’ lives over the next four years. Instead, it concerned their newest, biggest star in the form of Crowley: “Stay tuned! Tonight’s moderator, our own Candy Crowley, will join us next!”
For the first time since the Desert Storm, CNN was relevant.
So if you’re a viewer/voter, your choices to get a down-the-middle perspective on what you just witnessed have become increasingly limited. Maybe the internet and political news websites have something to offer, you think to yourself. But for every Daily Caller, there’s a Daily Beast. For every HuffPo, there’s Drudge. You can’t trust NBCNews.com because NBC’s Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd has his own show on MSNBC. National Review has several writers on FNC as contributors, so they’re out. Yahoo! News has a great story on Michelle Obama and Ann Romney wearing the same color dress, so (no need to complete this sentence).
OK, maybe the truth lies in all of those campaign ads that are somehow even more ubiquitous than those Progressive/Flo commercials?
You know…the ones with the evil music, black and white slo-mo to depict an evil candidate, and the reassurance that the guy who paid for it approves the message. They may have been somewhat effective pre-internet-anywhere and pre-DVR, but as we saw after the first debate, any caricature (and the millions of dollars spent on creating it) can be erased in about 90 minutes by an effective performance.
Which brings us to why the debates have moved the needle 11 points in Romney’s favor (Gallup) in the last 13 days alone…
As the aforementioned survey reveals, a solid majority in this country trust the media as much as Yankee fans trust A-Rod in October. On a deeper level, they certainly don’t believe the campaign ads they see on a daily basis (while being extremely annoyed by them in the process).
The only option left is to watch the debates…free of spin, analysis, and so-called focus groups consisting of “undecided” voters. And despite more channels and entertainment options via the internet available that ever before, the American public has tuned in with historic numbers: 70 million for Obama-Romney I, 51 million for Biden-Ryan, 65 million for Obama-Romney II. That’s over 185 million viewers for the first three debates when including the VP version last week.
Remember, this was supposed to an election season pundits had whined was oh-so-boring compared to the thrill of 2008. Now, thanks to the candidates treating the debates like reality shows and the utter hatred the two tickets have for each other, it’s already the most exciting since, well, maybe ever.
The Crowley controversy notwithstanding, the debates have provided what the public has been begging for since the polarization of journalism became so pronounced this year: The ability to allow them to observe, learn and judge for themselves.
Maybe Americans are smart enough to ignore the peripheral noise enough to decide whom to vote for on November 6th without someone who compromised their objectivity long ago telling them how to think.
We were told just two weeks ago that debates rarely matter…
Perhaps you’ll have a Reagan moment (“There you go again…”), a Bentsen zinger (“Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy…”) or a Gore sigh (“Sigh”). But something that will alter the election?
Hardly ever happens.
In an age when the messenger has as much credibility as Baghdad Bob, voters have now turned to two men on stage when making their decision on a next President:
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
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