Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Mass Media: Right Wing Megaphone

In the last couple of weeks I have found myself feeling... well 'bitter' is a good way to put it, and wondering why I have to go to the left wing blogosphere in order to find sanity in our national discourse. We've known for years that the national media are carrying water for the right wing, but it's really gotten out of hand lately, thanks to the threat they (they being the right wing, and by proxy the corps who run our mass media) perceive in the candidacy of Barack Obama.

Let me just say that if Obama survives this onslaught he will have proven to be one of the most resilient and enduring politicians in this nations history. He is facing a full bore onslaught by the Republicans, and slightly less than half of his own party. The media are doing their best to bring him down. I will just be inspired if he survives and goes on to win the general election.

The role of the media in the full throated attack of Obama was evident again yesterday on Hardball with Chris Matthews. (Oh yeah... What's up with MSNBC making it just about impossible to find transcripts of their daily shows?!) During the segment of his show called the politics fix Matthews focused on two ads which are set to be run against Senator Obama. Both ads have not been aired yet, and the national Republican party along with John McCain are asking that the North Carolina Republican party not air one of the ads. The other ad has been produced by Floyd Brown... who is the sleaze merchant behind the 88 Willie Horton ads. Both ads are targeted at the North Carolina Democratic primary.

What I find galling about the coverage of these ads are not the ads themselves. It is the fact that Hardball saw fit to air both ads on national television. The ad producers are given free national exposure and their ads haven't even been shown in a paid spot in the piddling local markets they are targeted at.

This mirrors the swift boat ads of 2004. The initial swift boat ad was aired in three states following the Democratic convention, until it was pumped around the nation poisoning the discourse with lies and distortion free of charge by the national media.

It would be fine for Hardball and the rest of the national media to discuss political ads but giving these groups national air time which greatly exceeds any time they actually pay for magnifies their message beyond all reason. I don't think there should be a law, but there should at least be a sort of journalistic ethic which does not allow the actual advertisement in question to be given more running time than what has actually been paid for.

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