February 24, 2008
New Nastiness. Finally. (Bob Franken)
@ 6:05 pm
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has a point: While news organizations are always ready to pounce on the Clintons, those covering Barack Obama have seemed less like reporters than groupies.
And while we’re at it, John McCain generally has enjoyed such a pleasant relationship with those who chronicle his campaign, he referred one time to journalists as his “base.”
While one can argue that the pervasive Nixonian view of the press in all of HillaryLand is responsible for poisonous coverage, that doesn’t give media the right to indulge our animosities and be more harsh to one side than the other.
Sooner or later we realize that and try to get back into balance. That’s what we’re seeing now, or at least beginning to see.
That helps explain all the negative stories that popped up about McCain in the last few days. There is a collective consciousness in journalism that causes all of us — at pretty much the same time — to try and knock our icons off the very pedestals we created for them.
In the case of McCain, it appears The New York times was so willing to demonstrate its virility that it very well may have compromised the stated mission of publishing only “The News that’s Fit to Print.” It’s still not clear that story was anything more than an unsubstantiated rumor that he might have been fooling around several years ago. Maybe.
Without that titillation, one must wonder whether a report that McCain’s sanctimony about special interests might be hypocrisy would have gotten much play. Without the sex angle? Of course not.
But I can guarantee you that it’s open season on McCain, so if there are any skeletons, they will, to borrow a phrase from a different context, soon be forced “out of the closet.”
What about Obama? So far he has been this campaign’s easy rider. But you can bet that all of my profession’s proud social misfits are looking very hard for chinks in this Lancelot’s armor — anything that might knock him off his horse.
By the way, that’s how it should be. Too much of this election race is manipulated by the marketers we call political consultants. They’re hired to try and control every facet of the a candidate’s image. Unless the wretches in media are willing to withstand the election peer pressure and be true NON-believers, we might elect someone who has no business being our national leader.
The widespread criticism of the way media abandoned their responsibility to challenge the Bush administration as it misled us into Iraq, and mishandled the war on terror, should make each and every one of us pleased to see we might have learned our lesson.
That lesson is that journalism in the United States is supposed to be about skepticism. It’s time for us to help make sure we don’t neglect our obligation to try and make sure voters avoid placing a fraud at the highest level of government. The candidates for the most powerful job in the world need to withstand a tough challenge not just from their opponents, but from us.