The Eclectic Quill

July 29, 2008

Media Bias My McCass!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 12:08 pm

John McCain has been complaining about media bias. It’s hardly a new thing; the Republicans play this card every election season. Like everything else they do though, reality and rhetoric need have little to do with one another. Additionally they have a way of skewing facts and spinning them into something unrecognizable. So when the complaints started coming in about Obama getting more media coverage my first thought was, “Yeah, but what kind of coverage.” Now it comes out that the kind of coverage is very indicative of a bias, a pro-McCain bias. In fact nearly two thirds of network coverage is beneficial to McCain. Seems the Republicans aren’t complaining about that though. Perhaps that’s because they’ve orchestrated it all along.

Prior to analyzing that particular strategy though, let’s take a look at what some of the facts are. Last week the McCain campaign was quoting the Andrew Tyndall conclusion that since the end of the primaries there had been 167 minutes of reporting on Obama versus only 66 minutes of reporting on McCain. The McCain camp trumpeted this as proof of the pro-Obama bias. Of course, as I stated earlier, being about Obama and being pro-Obama are two different things entirely. Now a new study shows that of that coverage it was 72 percent negative for Obama and only 57 percent negative for McCain. The numbers aren’t really sufficiently jarring though unless you put them together. When you put the percentages together with the numbers it starts to shape a clearer picture. Rounding off, there were 47 minutes of positive Obama stories and 28 positive McCain stories. However McCain media conspiracy theorists shouldn’t get too excited yet. There were also 120 minutes of negative reporting about Obama versus only 38 minutes of negative reporting about McCain. When put together this means that 84 minutes of coverage benefited Obama while 149 minutes of coverage benefited McCain. This means about 63 percent, nearly 2/3 of the coverage, has been beneficial to McCain! Yet, he’s the one who’s complaining!

Still let’s peel this onion a little deeper and see if it makes us cry even more. Let us consider what the media coverage has been about. The most publicized story of the campaign season has been Reverend Wright in spite of the fact that Obama had not sought out any endorsement from Wright nor had Wright participated in his campaign in anyway, and most importantly has a very different ideology than Wright. By contrast McCain’s courting of and then breaking off ties with the anti-Semitic John Hagee was dismissed after a single night of news coverage. Furthermore many of the negative things about Obama weren’t even true, or were purely ad hominem nastiness with little to no basis in reality ranging from nonexistent flip-flops to patriotism to whether or not he is a Muslim, and that’s not even counting Fox News! Meanwhile things that are true about McCain, such as a list of flip flops that would make John Kerry blush, including such things as the double-turn-around on torture, and now even more impossibly, on the same timetable that he condemned Obama for “wanting to lose the war” on are either barely reported or, when reported, done so in such a way as to qualify them. They’ve also ignored stories about the horrible “humor” exhibited by John McCain. Finally the outright nastiness, hypocrisy and blatant dishonesty and vitriol of the McCain itself has perhaps been the most newsworthy thing of, yet has been ignored as the media considers whether each slimy attack is considered rather than condemned as it should be.

So why is there so much negative discussion about Obama? Is it, as some indicate, McCain’s long time good relationship with the Media? While I think that in some small part this may be true, I think it has more to do with the Swift Boat strategy being employed by the McCain camp. In essence by ceaselessly attacking Obama, McCain has made the news every day about Obama, be it good or bad. The net result, as shown is a plus to McCain. Then because he’s manipulated the media into discussing his attacks on Obama night and day, he can complain about them spending too much time talking about him. The media needs to learn that being equal in time is not the same thing as being equal in bias. When attacks are so blatantly beyond the pale they shouldn’t have pundits on discussing the effect of a negative attack on the person who is being attacked, they should spend time discussing what it says about the character and nature of the attacker, especially when the attacker has promised to run a “civil campaign.”


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