May 4, 2004
Tell The Ugly Truth, Bluntly and Constantly
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
I understand and share your concern about the Kerry campaign. However, I wanted to point out a number of very galling and upsetting examples of negative media coverage of John Kerry. Because we can't get fair treatment from the media, it is imperative that everyone get on board David Brock's new organization (http://mediamatters.org/) and become part of the liberal, democratic, patriotic Greek chorus that will not let the media continue to trivialize and lie about Bush's disastrous record.
Here are some examples of what I have seen on the news lately. CNN displays a subtly mocking attitude toward Kerry. The anchors covering politics are continuously and unrelentingly skeptical if not downright negative toward John Kerry, his positions, and his chances of winning. Even Judy Woodruff, who is presumably a Democrat, seems to feel that she has to be skeptical to show her bosses she doesn't have that nasty liberal bias. Last week at the end of "Inside Politics" they ran a segment entitled something like, "The Week in Review," in which they showed Bush doing various "presidential things." They had very little on Kerry, but what they did air was telling: They showed him almost spilling a drink that was sitting on his cafeteria tray -- as though he is incompetent.
If the media was not sucking up to Bush, we would see his Porky Pig rendition from his press conference played almost as many times as the played the "Dean scream." But, they don't do that. What they do do is protect Bush and show him in the best light possible. They devalue people who provide negative information about Bush or his administration, they give them a perfunctory amount of air time, and they often have two Republicans to one Democrat. (I guess they are assuming the anchor is also "liberal"!) I saw Wolf Blitzer interview Sy Hersch on Sunday afternoon about the torture and humiliation of the Iraqi prisoners. Wolf looked almost paranoid, and he kept trying to downplay the significance of the scandal. He was not happy when Seymour persisted in pressing the truth on him.
Here's another example. You have no doubt heard complaints on a program such as Wolf Blitzer's or in the writings of even supposedly liberal columnists that Kerry has not said what he would do about Iraq. That is just not true. Apparently, they are so lazy that they have not even bothered to read the position papers on his website. Furthermore, they don't bother to cover his campaign speeches completely. Some newspaper article documented that Bush gets way more free coverage than Kerry. The news media just doesn't feel any civic responsibility to cover him.
Did you know that John Kerry gave a really excellent foreign policy speech at Westminster College last Friday? I saw it on CSPAN on Friday night. This event had an interesting origin. You probably recall that Cheney had spoken at Westminster College last Monday. His speech was billed as a foreign policy address. It turned into a scurrilous attack on John Kerry. Apparently the President of the college and a many in the audience were very upset at the tone of the Cheney speech. Accordingly, the President of the college invited Kerry to give his own foreign policy address.
took the high road and his speech was excellent. It was appropriately
deep and wide-ranging for the amount of
he had. The audience
was very enthusiastic, and he got many standing ovations.
There a palpable sense of desire and urgency and recognition
I would also say there was even a sense of relief that
we have an intelligent, articulate Democratic candidate in which
is preserved (as they say in psychiatry).
Then there are those pundits who might have an inkling of what Kerry has said about Iraq. They complain that Kerry has not differentiated himself from Bush about Iraq. Well, Kerry has been saying we need to use the UN and NATO for months. It is Bush who moved to Kerry's position. It is Bush who is forced to go begging rather unsuccessfully for help from other countries. Does the media castigate Bush for his multiple failures in prosecuting this war and especially the failure to plan properly for the occupation period? No, they castigate Kerry for not having a different plan.
Where is this different plan supposed to come from? Is it supposed to materialize out of fairy dust? Our options in Iraq are limited and they are narrowing, precisely because Bush and Co. botched the job so miserably. Either we stay, but we move very rapidly to internationalize the security effort AND at the same time give up our control of the Iraqi economy, OR we just cut and run. Personally, I have not yet come to the conclusion that we can cut and run -- I think that would lead toward an even greater a disaster. Nonetheless, the time may soon come if we persist in doing what we have been doing, that the only course IS to get out, and get out quickly as possible. So, how can Kerry combat the fact that interviewers are casting him as having a position that is the same as Bush's?
Remember the brouhaha about the so-called "more foreign leaders" remark that Kerry made casually to some supporters several weeks ago? Remember how persnickety and morally offended the Republican Guard got about that? They demanded Kerry come up with proof! They may have called him a traitor (it wouldn't be the first time).
There were two reasons why this was especially ridiculous: First, everyone, but everyone knows that 95% of foreign leaders would prefer that Kerry would beat Bush. WE ALL KNOW THIS AND SO DO THEY. Second, I recall that Richard Armitage said in his 9/11 Commission testimony a few weeks ago, when asked about briefings he got on security matters, said that he had already talked to Clinton folks AND to foreign leaders well before he was confirmed. He said that this contact with foreign leaders always happens, well before the election. Foreign leaders talk up the candidates and their surrogates to make sure they will have an in with them should they win. So, it was perfectly normal for foreign leaders to talk off the record with Kerry.
Did the press tell you this? NO. Again, they castigated Kerry and took the Republican position toward him. GOPUSA ridiculed him, calling him the International Man of Mystery. They then started in on him for speaking French. Did you know that Chris Matthews thought the "French thing" was funny? Would it have been funny if they had ridiculed Kerry for having Jewish ancestors? What if he had African-American or Asian relatives? What if he spoke Chinese (which would be a huge accomplishment?) Is Condoleezza Rice a Commie sympathizer because she majored in Russian Studies and speaks Russian? Why is it acceptable to demonize any group of people this way? I find these Republicans and the co-dependent media to be narrowminded, ignorant, racist, xenophobic, and revolting. These are the people with the exquisite empathy who spent all of the nineties when they weren't demonizing Clinton thinking about liberating Iraq, right?
Now, you may be interested to know that Tim Russert had Fareed Zakaria and another author (whose name escapes me at the moment) on his CNBC interview program on Saturday night (a program which can be quite interesting, but which I am sure has only 50 viewers). Both Fareed and the other guest agreed pretty much that Iraq was a disaster, that there was only a small amount of time left to make it work, that it was absolutely necessary to internationalize the effort. Zakaria, who is actually quite Conservative but otherwise seems to be an intelligent and reasonable man, actually stated bluntly that he thought John Kerry had the right idea about what to do. To top it all off, these three men seemed pretty grim about the whole Iraqi situation.
you think that Russert even mentioned this the next morning on
Meet the Press? Not a chance.
even touch on
the most stunning
story of the moment, the story about the
torture of the Iraqi prisoners.
There were many more examples of the media treating Kerry in an unstintingly negative manner while protecting Bush from negative facts and presenting Bush' activities in a uniformly positive vein. They present negative information about the Bush administration only when they are forced to by events, and then they do everything they can to diminish the significance of that information.
There is also a persistent concentration on the trivial, like the medals/ribbons controversy. I have read all sorts of advice to Kerry on this from various pundits. Quite a few, like E.J. Dionne, were genuinely offended (and understandably so!) by the smearing of Kerry and his service, and wrote or commented on it. However, many pundits supposedly sympathetic to the Democratic position started criticizing Kerry for "letting himself be drawn into the controversy." Well, what can he do when the media perseverates on the subject and won't be deflected? We don't have on our side a Greek chorus that shames and humiliates Republicans and their dirty tactics loudly and unrelentingly -- we need it, and we need it quick.
It is true that John Kerry is not personally charismatic enough and manipulative enough to seduce the media into treating him better. I have really come to the conclusion that the Democratic candidate must be exceptionally charismatic and appealing in very superficial ways that are not germane to being a good president to overcome the incredible bias in favor of Republican candidates. The incumbency does have some advantages, but not as much for the Democratic president as the Republican.
As Randi Rhodes more or less says constantly on her show, I can't even find the words to figure out what the hell is wrong with the media!! We have something like organized crime running the government, they have made a total disastrous mess in Iraq, they have created a problem that is so large that we will not be able to undo the harm they've done for decades, and in response to this disaster, we have likes of Candy Crowley and Bill Schneider making their snide, intellectually dishonest assessments of Kerry's so-called "flip-flops" or his "authenticity."
Kerry and the Democratic leaders have to SUMMON UP their genuine
I think they
to start telling
the ugly truth very bluntly, even
it they even risk losing the election.
And we need
constantly. It is utterly
Bush still has a good chance of
winning this election anyway, no matter what
At least if
he and the Democrats
start telling the truth about this
administration loudly and bluntly,
even if we
don't win, we will all be able
to say, "WE TOLD YOU these people
are ruining this country, but you didn't listen."
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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otherwise noted, all original