Sunday, November 09, 2008

Media campaign: training us to love and hate

A reader sent me the link to "Palin calls criticism 'cruel'" (The Seattle Times, November 8, 2008), with the comment: "It’s about time someone used the word 'jerks' of those various 'aides' and 'strategists.'” He was referring, of course, to Palin's own words:
"If there are allegations based on questions or comments I made in debate prep about NAFTA, about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context. And that's cruel, it's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it taking things out of context, then tried to spread something on national news."
I know this is most directly about "aides" and "strategists" in the McCain-Palin campaign, yet the point I wish to make goes well beyond their particular sniping, which has been shaped by a particular malicious spin on Palin. I want to look at the larger spin of the media itself.

Let's get one thing straight. It has been frequently said that President Elect Barack Obama ran a brilliant campaign. It is true that his campaign was brilliantly run; but credit where credit is due: the Obama campaign was brilliantly coordinated by MSNBC, CNN, NYT, AP, Reuters and the rest of the usual suspects from the mainline broadcast and print media.

But -- let it be clear -- the same media campaign that generated the virtual apotheosis of the Illinois senator also succeeded in completely and reprehensibly demonizing Sarah Palin. The really stunning thing has been the brazen flat-out hatred and vitriol the media succeded in generating towards this good and decent career mother and champion of traditional family values. One could have easily forgotten that she was the superlatively competent Governor of Alaska with an unheard-of 80% approval rating and a NORAD security briefing clearance higher than any other individual outside the White House or Pentegon, let alone in the presidential campaign.

Rush Limbaugh may regularly joke about telling his listeners "what to think" about the news; but the "drive-by media" have actually undertaken and succeeded in what for him was only a joking matter. Otherwise intelligent members of the media audience have thus been led to conclude that this good and decent and, yes, intelligent woman is little more than a dim half-wit fanatic fundy ready to join Dr. Strangelove astride the bucking A Bomb as it's released over Moscow. Brilliantly spun by the media. Amazing, really. The astronomical hatred is so completely out-of-proportion to anything ordinarily found in partisan politics, that it speaks volumes more about the haters than it does about the hated. The phenomenon is well-deserving of a thorough study by someone with the resources to undertake it. I could hazard a guess as to the reasons animating the animosity among the trendy lefties (and especially the butch femi-fascists), but I guarantee it wouldn't be a pretty picture.

In the meantime, I'm inclined to reiterate my personal campaign as a charter member of the Society for the Defenistration of Television Sets. Destroy that Idiot Box, before it destroys your mind and freedom of thought.

Enough already.[Hat tip to K.K.]

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