Sunday December 07, 2008
“The Most Vicious Smear Campaign Ever Mounted Against an American Politician”
Since the election, there's been a lot of talk about how the media favored Obama during the campaign. Hell, there's was noise about this before the election. Such talk seems to imply that all coverage should be equal no matter who the candidates are or what they say, but someday, when I have time, I might drill down to see if anything was unnecessarily positive or negative about either candidate, or if it was merely a matter of, say, Albert Pujols generating more positive media coverage than Willie Bloomquist because he’s the better ballplayer.
To what extent, in other words, can you remove a candidate’s performance from the equation? Baseball’s a little different, of course, in that you have quantifiable statistics rather than qualitative remarks or actions. At the same time, as I often say, objectivity is not stupidity. Journalists can’t, or shouldn’t, pretend things aren’t as they are. Put another way: I had my own problems, from a pro-Obama point-of-view, with the media’s coverage of this campaign. Here, here and here. And here and here. And here.
Besides, Michael Massing reminds us, in his excellent article in The New York Times Review of Books, “Obama: In the Divided Heartland,“ that a whole lotta media wasn't exactly backing Obama:
For months, [Rush] Limbaugh had been hammering away at [Obama]—for abetting terrorists, hating Israel, being corrupt, supporting socialism. Today, oddly, he was faulting him for his lack of passion. ”He's like a Stepford husband,“ he said. ”He's cold enough to consort with terrorists. Cold enough to dismiss small-town America as ‘bitter clingers.’ Cold enough to take our guns away. Cold enough to take our money away.“
Such charges were standard fare on the toxic, overheated combine of right-wing talk radio, cable television programs, and Internet blogs that has so multiplied and festered in recent years. Americans who do not regularly tune in have little idea how nasty and venomous a campaign was waged there against Barack Obama. Day after day, night after night, a steady stream of poison was directed at him not only by Limbaugh but also by Sean Hannity, on his daily radio show and nightly Fox broadcast; by Bill O‘Reilly, on Fox, the radio, and the Internet; by Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, and a legion of other ranting radio hosts; by Hugh Hewitt, Michelle Malkin, Monica Crowley, and their fellow pike-bearers in the blogosphere; by columnists like Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Steyn, Michael Barone (”The Coming Obama Thugocracy“), and Ann Coulter (”Obama’s Dimestore ‘Mein Kampf’"), all joining together to produce firestorms of manufactured rage about Obama's purported ties to Bill Ayers, Tony Rezko, Jeremiah Wright, ACORN, Castro, Chávez, Ahmadinejad, and Karl Marx...
These outbursts were supplemented by a noxious barrage of e-mails, mass mailings, and robocalls claiming that Obama was pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, unpatriotic, a Muslim, a madrasa graduate, a black racist—even the Antichrist. Amounting to a six-month-long exercise in Swift Boating, these attacks, taken together, constituted perhaps the most vicious smear campaign ever mounted against an American politician.
That's the question I'd ask anyone pushing one of these studies. Is talk radio included? And if not, why not?