A well-documented election

Barack Obama’s management of his campaign and the mobilization of a 501c 3 organization as a campaign arm was incredibly brilliant. His oratorical ability and his sense of theater struck a resounding chord with a great number of voting citizens. He won a well-deserved victory in the sense that he did the necessary things that resulted in his being elected. He convinced enough people that he was the solution to their problems to gain enough votes to win.

He was helped in this campaign by avidly partisan Main Stream Media figures, but this has happened in almost every Presidential election. In this election, the majority of MSM outlets did a fantastic job publicizing Barack Obama as the obvious choice while suppressing those challengers like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, etc., etc.

The MSM know they played a major role in electing Barack Obama and they are certainly savoring their victory. Charlie Gibson’s fawning interview with the President-elect was right in line with his earlier interviews of Barack Obama. It was a marked contrast to his demeanor in interviews with the other candidates. But this was not unexpected.

The MSM has never been non-partisan, except in their own eyes.

The major difference in this election was that hundreds of thousands of individuals got to see the seamy underside of the political process on the Internet. Blogs and YouTube videos revealed embarrassing details about every candidate and highlighted the unfortunate bias and misinformation emanating from the MSM.

The dirty deeds and unfortunate relationships that were swept under the table as being "unimportant" will not go away as they might have in the distant pre-Internet past. The details of who did what and who benefited are still out there and will be digested and discussed for years to come.

Will these uncovered misdeeds and crimes affect the political fortunes of our elected officials, hard to say. Probably not, as Congress, the Senate, and the President-Elect will have most of their attention on creating alliances that will carry them through the coming year.

On the other hand, bloggers of the Left and of the Right and every position on the political spectrum will have ample time to uncover information and connect the dots so that a coherent picture will evolve of every incident worth discussing. The shifting positions of the candidates will be laid out on a time track for all to see and analyze. These analyzes will probably be used in an effort to predict future behavior and to anticipate weaknesses.

Efforts to obfuscate and hide data rarely work and there will be a cost to those who attempt it. Who does not know for example, that the LA Times has been sitting on a video of Barack Obama. A news organization suppressing news? How noble of them! What will that do to their bottom line? Probably more layoffs.

By the end of the first 100 days of the new presidency, there could be more well-informed citizens of every political persuasion than ever before in history. The scrutiny that will result from this access to information will cast light in more dark places than you might imagine.

Scrutiny by bloggers will continue to force MSM outlets to cover issues at the risk of being discredited. Bloggers are no more intelligent than the media types they compete with, but bloggers are resourceful and often highly motivated to expose injustices. Their alliances are clearly labeled and you can quickly see where they stand on most issues.

We will see whether the new Administration handles this challenge with style and grace or by repression of dissident voices.

We live in interesting times.

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0 Responses to A well-documented election

  1. Julian Gall says:

    Interestingly, this item came right next to yours in my blog reader. You may be interested in Dan Rather’s comments on the problems with influence, partisanship and trivialisation in media coverage.


    I do believe that politicians still haven’t quite realised the difference that blogs and other non-corporate comment media are going to make in future. It is already the case that any lies or misstatements by a politician are spotted pretty quickly. What doesn’t happen yet is the wide dissemination of the truth – most people still turn to the big TV networks for their information. Unless the TV networks themselves start to report the truth revealed in this way, their credibility will decline further and further.

    Nothing seems more apt at present than Abe Lincoln’s “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

  2. Sean Pecor says:

    I believe all news is tailored to the audience, and bias evolves with an audience as well. George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs found that there was a mainstream media bias AGAINST Obama during the Presidential Election (in contrast to the Democratic Primaries, where the same center found a mainstream media bias against Clinton).

    I’m 35 and not likely to be considered among the young voting population of today, but I’ve been an active member of the “online” generation since 1988, so I have some insight. If there was a slight mainstream media bias against Obama throughout most of the Presidential campaign, then one can argue that it was the power of online media that was effective in shifting the public in favor of Obama. I think the verdict is in. While the Democratic party has been moving toward the middle over the past 20 years, the Republicans have been moving to the right. I think it was a tactical mistake, since most elections are won by garnering the support of people like me, who are either slightly left or right of center.

  3. Jim White says:

    I agree with you that the media has a hand in shaping a voter’s perception but I don’t think that the MSM set out to mislead us into making a bum call.
    I think it would be more fair to say that BOTH candidates took a beating in the MSM, and neither came out unscathed. The candidates certainly responded differently to the scrutiny. One candidate appeared calm, intelligent and willing to empower the common man, the other seemed quixotic, ill-tempered and made it clear (to all who were paying attention) that he had every intention of continuing the failed policies that have brought this country to it’s knees. His “health plan” stands as a perfect example, if his plan would have “worked” the way it was intended there would have been more people without access to healthcare than their are now, but it would have helped the bottom line of the biggest insurance companies, so Mac soldiered on telling the uninformed that his opponent was a socialist.

    Like it or not, McCain lost on his own. He had the machinations of power in his court, he had the slimy neocons stirring up the undereducated, he had Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. What he offered our country was an insult to our intelligence and we voted accordingly, MSM aside.

  4. Thanks, Sean and Jim, for your thoughtful comments.

    Our party affiliations, or lack of them, may affect our perceptions of bias. In support of this I submit that a majority of journalists and TV News people have historically voted Democratic. Read How the Media Vote

    In several studies I have read journalists were quite surprised to hear that readers considered them biased and that in-depth studies found bias.

    It should be no surprise. When most of an organization holds hard to one political viewpoint, it is almost self evident that contrary viewpoints are not given much credence.

    Bias is where you find it and the study you refer to was done in July 2008 and was reported in the LA Times. A more recent study which appears in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics indicates that almost all major media outlets tilt to the left. Read: http://tinyurl.com/56apw5

    If you get your news from the major networks, it is not surprising that you might have a skewed understanding of what the candidates stand for.

    I try not to make judgments until I read a transcript of what each candidate said. Comparing the original videos and transcripts to what was reported has confirmed to me that there is extreme bias in reporting. Since three are three times as many liberal outlets as conservative outlets, the bias I see is consistent with that percentage.

  5. Jim White says:

    Mr. St. Lawrence:

    I see your point and I’d like to add a thought. I think that there are some media outlets that have a tendency to wear their bias like a badge of honor while others attempt to mitigate their bias to give at least some illusion of objectivity…examples include Fox News and C-SPAN, respectively. It seems to me that little things like that may tend to un-skew some of our perceptions, maybe?

    However, that notwithstanding, the glaring question that arises is that if there’s any integrity to your notion that there “are three times as many liberal outlets as conservative outlets, the bias…is consistent with that percentage” would be, where were they during the last 2 elections?? Any thoughts??

    Whatever the case may be, I’ll be the first to agree, wholeheartedly and unconditionally, that this country would be much better served to have an informed pool of voters. (I think that alone qualifies me as an “elitist” in Palinspeak). In my opinion we have just rode out an 8 year long “worst case scenario” when it comes to poorly informed voting and we will be paying for that for at least the foreseeable future.

  6. GBGames says:

    Jim, I also question the liberal bias that exists as much as claimed when these same supposedly-liberal media companies have no problem tearing down very liberal people like Howard Dean. How many times was his scream played on the air? How much attention did the liberal media give to the Monica Lewinski scandal?

    I also read a great article about the supposed lack of conservatives in mainstream media. When you have a conservative in mainstream media, it means he/she is a smart person…and smart people aren’t willing to be shills for party loyalty as often as conservatives might like. See George Will’s commentary on Palin for an example of a conservative in mainstream media who got a a lot of flak for his views and probably isn’t seen as a conservative in a lot of the Right’s eyes anymore. Meanwhile, see Robert Novak’s commentary on whether or not Obama has a mandate (compared with his comments in 2004 about Bush’s mandate) to see someone who obviously has a conservative bias that you can’t trust to be objective.

    The mainstream media didn’t elect Obama, and I suppose if conservatives want to improve, they might best do so by figuring out specific ways how rather than finding who to blame. You know, that whole personal responsibility thing that Obama talked about that is supposedly a conservative value. When most of America voted for Bush, it was offensive to talk about how they were duped. Liberals were sore losers. Talking about Americans voting for Obama because they were misled is fair game?

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