Friday, September 21, 2012

The Press and the Election

Four years ago there was an email list called the JournoList which allowed members of the Obama campaign to coordinate their message with members of the press and decide on strategies for neutralizing the McCain campaign. While that was closed down, something has replaced it. There can be no doubt that most of the press is actively supporting President Obama over Governor Romney. This can be seen in the priority that is given to different stories and the tone of the reporting.

For example, look at the reporting of Romney's "gaffes". Months ago Romney was asked what cars he and his wife drive. He mentioned "My wife drives a couple of Cadillacs." This is still being referred to as if any admission that he is rich is a major mistake.

Last week Romney criticized the tweet from the US embassy is Egypt which stood for hours after the embassy attack and seemed to apologize on behalf of America for offending Islam. This was given almost as much coverage as the attacks themselves complete with detailed timelines showing when different statements were issues and allowed to be made public. Much was made of the fact that the tweet was unauthorized and eventually taken down. President Obama was quoted as saying that Romney "shoots first and aims later". No one mentioned that all statements officially issued by an embassy are assumed to be official US policy and that the whole issue shows a breakdown in the chain of command within the Obama administration.

Later that day Obama told Telemundo that Egypt was no longer an ally but is not an enemy. This was an actual gaffe. The term "ally" has a legal definition and Obama seemed to be saying that we were no longer recognizing Egypt's official status as an ally. This would have major repercussions in trade and arms sales. The State Department had to "clarify" the remark saying that Egypt's status as an ally has not changed. In other words, Obama had no idea what he was saying. This got almost no coverage.

The Obama administration has been caught lying and covering up about the attacks and the slaying of Americans. They continue to insist that the attacks were not directed at the US but were nothing but understandable outrage over the trailer for an amateurish movie that insults Islam. The governments of Egypt and Libya say that the incidents were outright attacks, especially the deadly attack in Libya. There was no protest, just an attack by radicals.

This has barely gotten any coverage. Instead the press has been covering a recording of Romney addressing a private fundraiser. The recording is heavily edited and was probably illegal to make under Florida law.

NBC has not bothered to fact-check the administration statement that the attacks were caused by the video but they immediately fact-checked Romney's statement that 47% pay no income taxes. This turned into a disapproving editorial with the reporter pointing out that white people on Social Security are "Romney supporters".

There have been various stories about the Romney campaign being in disarray but the Obama campaign has major problems of its own. According to "Obama's Last Stand" put out by Politico, Obama's top campaign officials are barely on speaking terms. Having Clinton (a former president) nominate Obama was unprecedented and a sign of desperation but no one reported it that way.

Even reporting the polls is slanted. New polls are coming out daily but the ones that get covered are the outliers - the ones showing Obama ahead by the most points. These are often the most questionable with an oversampling of Democrats.

The goal of all of this is to portray Romney as unfit to be president, to minimize Obama's many mistakes, and to give the impression that the race is already over and Obama has an unassailable lead.

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