Media Control of Elections Challenged by Elizabeth Edwards and Others.
Updated remark by carol. The New York Times reports that Obama has strongly repudiated Rev. Wright's most recent speeches. Zeff Zeleny writes Obama Says He’s Outraged by Ex-Pastor’s Comments
One of the unsettling features of the Democratic primary campaign has been the way that the media has amplified a racial drum beat, picking up the Clinton camp's "Obama is unelectable" theme. Anyone familiar with the use of code words to hide discriminatory hiring practises or to deny loans to minorities or to restrict access to certain communities, can easily recognize the use of "elite" as a code word. The claim that Obama is too "elite," he can't connect with the white working stiff.
Some powerful hitters are now coming to the fore to expose the arrogance of the media and the ugly message that they are trying to put across. Top on the list is Elizabeth Edwards who had a powerful opinion piece in Sunday's Me York Times Bowling 1, Health Care 0.
FOR the last month, news media attention was focused on Pennsylvania and its Democratic primary. Given the gargantuan effort, what did we learn?
Well, the rancor of the campaign was covered. The amount of money spent was covered. But in Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the country this political season, the information about the candidates’ priorities, policies and principles — information that voters will need to choose the next president — too often did not make the cut.
It is good to hear her voice. This is a well-reasoned piece which I highly recommend be read in full.
Rev. Wright addressed the National Press Club this morning following an address yesterday in Detroit to 10,000 NAACP members. He said that the way that the press has distorted sound bites taken from his sermon about 9/11 is not only an attack upon Obama or himself but upon the black church as a whole and its tradition of leadership in the struggle for racial equality. Both his Detroit speach and his remarks to the press are available here.
At the same time the Hispanic caucus in the House and Senate has issued a statement attackking CNN for shaping their news coverage of immigration and the Hispanic community by Lou Dobbs racist opinion mongering.
Then there is an interesting article in the New Yorker, Bill Vs. Barack by Ryan Lizza, that discusses how the press are doing the same thing to Bill Clinton, picking up on remarks that can be construed as racial slurs while failing to cover the significant debate between them.
The focus on Clintonian error has obscured a serious debate that Obama and the former President tried to have. Obama has been arguing that the country’s economic troubles are as much Clinton’s fault as Bush’s—he blames Clinton-era deregulation of the telecommunications and banking industries—and he implicitly accuses Bill Clinton of surrendering to special interests. “The problems we face go beyond any single Administration,” Obama told one labor audience. “For far too long, through both Democratic and Republican Administrations, the system has been rigged against everyday Americans by the lobbyists that Wall Street uses to get its way.” In much quoted remarks to a private group in San Francisco, Obama said that some Pennsylvanians were “bitter” and would “cling” to guns and religion, because jobs “fell through the Clinton Administration and the Bush Administration.”
That is what offended Bill Clinton. “Hillary’s opponent, in his entire campaign, every two or three weeks has said for months and months and months, beginning in Nevada, that really there wasn’t much difference in how America did when I was President and how America’s done under President Bush,” he said in Lock Haven. “Now, if you believe that, you should probably vote for him, but you get a very bad grade in history.” In the closing days of the campaign, Obama gave at least three speeches criticizing the former President, who, ever vigilant of his legacy, defended himself at every stop. Few paid attention; Barack and Bill were like two boxers trying to have a fight but both getting pelted by a mysterious third force—the saturation gaffe coverage.
The day before the primary, Bill Clinton lost his temper with a radio host who asked about the Jesse Jackson comments. Clinton went on a three-minute rant in which he posited the mysterious theory that Obama had played the race card against him. Then, not realizing that he was still on the air, he could be heard saying, “I don’t think I should take any shit from anybody on that, do you?” The clip was an Internet sensation. You can hear the whole thing in the Bill Clinton archive at YouTube. It’s already been listened to about three hundred thousand times.
Lastly I would like to call attention to an important opinion piece in the New York Times by Much Ado by Stanley Fish who talks about the appearance of out-and-out McCarthyist "guilt by association" tactics in the campaign. He as well as Obama has served on boards with Bill Ayers and he has also been to dinners at his home.
Hillary Clinton and John McCain should know better. In fact, they do know better. To date, Clinton has played hardball, but hasn’t really fouled. I never saw anything wrong or inaccurate about her saying that Martin Luther King’s vision required a president’s action before it could be implemented, or Bill Clinton’s saying that Jesse Jackson won the South Carolina primary twice. He did, and if the implication was that Obama’s base constituency is African-American, that too was accurate and continues to be so.
As for her saying that all Obama had ever done was give a speech, she was being generous: he gave that speech against invading Iraq at a small event featuring other speakers (including Jackson); the local press coverage did not even mention him; and if this was, as his campaign claims, an act of courage, it was a singularly private one, maybe even a fairy tale. Clinton’s exaggerating the danger of her visit to Bosnia (most likely unintentional because, as she said, “I’m not dumb”) came a little closer to crossing a line, but didn’t. Re-telling a story (about a hospital’s refusal to treat an uninsured patient) that turned out not to be true was evidence of faulty campaign organization, not of deliberate duplicity.
But the literature the Clinton campaign is passing around about Obama and Ayers cannot be explained away or rationalized. It features bold heads proclaiming that Ayers doesn’t regret his Weathermen activities (what does that have to do with Obama? Are we required to repudiate things acquaintances of our have not said?), that Ayers contributed $200 to Obama’s senatorial campaign (do you take money only from people of whose every action you approve?), that Obama admired Ayers’s 1997 book on the juvenile justice system, that Ayers and Obama participated on a panel examining the role of intellectuals in public life. That subversive event was sponsored by The Center for Public Intellectuals, an organization that also sponsored an evening conversation (moderated by me) between those notorious radicals Richard Rorty and Judge Richard Posner (also a neighbor of Ayers’s; maybe the Federalist Society should expel him).