Many people say that television elected John F. Kennedy, and not Richard Nixon, in 1960. Kennedy spoke eloquently about “progress” and about “change,” about brightening the future by righting past wrongs such as ignorance, poverty and war. Nixon hammered on themes such as decreased government spending, responsible and independent energy policy, and a free market economy.
The election was also about experience. Nixon touted his work as vice president, playing up his foreign policy experience. The message proved to be a difficult one to overcome for the 43-year-old Kennedy, and because of it Nixon was building momentum against his younger foe.
Until the race went onto the small screen.
Despite being a phenomenal debater, Nixon was no match for Kennedy on television. In the first televised debate, his suit blended into the just-painted background, a recent illness caused a gaunt and wan appearance, and while Kennedy was making points, the cameras often cut to Nixon wiping sweat from his forehead. When the debate came to its fruition, television viewers picked the fresh, young-looking Kennedy as the winner; radio viewers, unable to see the difference in appearance between the two candidates, picked Nixon.
Fast-forward to 2008, and I fear that the mainstream media will once again crown America’s highest elected official.
Later this summer, Barack Obama will tour Iraq and many other points overseas. Hundreds and hundreds of reporters from stations and publications large and small have expressed a desire to join him, and many will. Furthermore, top anchors from the big three television networks–NBC’s Brian Williams, ABC’s Charles Gibson and CBS’s much maligned Katie Couric–will be anchoring their nightly newscasts from Obama’s overseas shadow.
Back in March, John McCain visited Iraq as well. Though the trip was characterized as an official Congressional delegation, McCain was able to sit down with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, Gen. David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, American ambassador to the country. The trip received an eight-inch story in the New York Times, undoubtedly in the latter half of Section A, similar back-page treatment in other newspapers, and barely two minutes of attention on the nightly newscasts, inevitably preceded by the words “and, in other political news…”
The American mainstream media has wielded and enjoyed an inordinately large amount of power in this election so far. In mid-March, when it wasn’t ignoring McCain’s trip overseas, it was busy securing the Arizona senator the Republican nomination, running infrequent and often negative articles about former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and denouncing former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as a political flash-in-the-pan (on the latter, they may have been right). Then, just a few weeks ago, the mainstream media secured the Democratic party nomination for Barack Obama, providing the Clinton campaign with minimal coverage in comparison to Obama despite an impressive run of primary contests. For weeks, the only thing the average American heard from Clinton was quotes such as “I’m still here!” and “this race isn’t over yet.”
Now, as if cover shots on Rolling Stone, US Weekly and other magazines aren’t enough, or if the staggering difference in news coverage of Obama and McCain isn’t sufficient, the vast majority of media heavy-hitters will join their messiah in a pilgrimage to the Middle East. During this love-fest, Americans are sure to see majestic shots of the Illinois senator hugging Iraqi children, talking seriously with American military officials, smiling with world leaders and more, while shots of McCain will be limited to appearances at small town hall meetings where he’ll be talking about the credit crisis, or about taxes, or something else hardly considered thrilling.
So-called journalists are jumping at the opportunity to make Barack Hussein Obama look presidential. Shaking hands with high-ranking officials and walking war-torn streets provide them with just such a chance.
How is it that, in a nation designed to provide the power to the ordinary man and woman, the real power is vested in a small group of people who set an agenda as to how the ordinary man and woman views the other small group of people they’ve elected as representatives? Here in America, the key to prosperity rests in having a truly representative republic, and such a form of government relies upon the people knowing what is going on, knowing how to deal with it, and relaying that perspective on to those who represent them.
Instead, however, we have an American public who are either (a) too lazy to care about what is happening in the world or in our government, (b) too wrapped-up in American Idol and July baseball to pay attention, or (c) honestly interested but misguided by the mainstream media. Add to that elected officials who put more effort into staying in power than doing the right thing, and a media that covers only what fits their socialist agenda, and we’ve got an exponentially mounting problem in this nation.
Barack Obama may very well be our next president. This despite having less experience in the United States Senate than it usually takes for a pimple faced teenager to move from the shake machine to the cashier’s counter at McDonald’s. This despite his belief that the role of the judiciary is to “favor the weak against the strong.” This despite having $4 per gallon gasoline, for which the democrats in power are responsible, despite the mounting nuclear threat from Iran, despite an American economy faltering because of excessive government spending.
Obama is all wrong for this country, at a time when we desperately need things to go right. By no means is John McCain the answer, but the media is failing and refusing to even give the man a chance.
Eventually, this tide must change, and such a change is more important than having a certain man or woman in the White House, than having a certain party in control of Congress. Like it or not, the media plays an enormous role in the prosperity and mere perpetuity of America, and for that reason must be objective and fair.
So far, looking at this election, I’ve seen nothing of the sort.