In the middle of the last century, stories were told of poets in the then USSR commanding audiences of tens of thousands for readings. America was astounded. Poetry? Not rock and roll? Granted, the Soviet Union backed those poets and rock stars were, of course, not allowed to tour. But, I think it is apocryphal. People will gather any time there is something interesting to see.
The news media’s continuing description of Barack Obama as a rock star presidential candidate is grossly misleading and deprecating. To my knowledge, no single rock star in recent history has commanded 75,000 people in an audience in this country or 200,000 abroad. Woodstock, with its “half a million strong” was a three-day event with dozens of musical guests and the added allure of the heady mixture of sex and drugs with a semi-political agenda thrown in.
But the million people who marched on Washington in the late sixties were there to end the war. The 500,000 people I marched on Washington with (before my claustrophobia prevented such participation) were there to fight for equal rights. The Million Man March was not a musical event.
So I submit that those yearning to catch a glimpse of and listen to Barack Obama were not there because he is handsome and wears expensive suits well. Nor were they there simply because he is an eloquent speaker. They were there to take part in yet another historic moment in politics: to be part of an event that could, possibly, maybe, change the course of country. They were there to show support for something new, for a deviation from the path that this country has been on for nearly eight years. They were there, yes, for hope.
Not because he resembled in any way Britney Spears or Bono. Not because he was another Springsteen or Crosby, Stills and Nash.
And yet, once again, our mainstream television media reported the trip overseas and the huge crowds that greeted Barack (waving American flags for the first time in recent history) as though it were, yawn, just some sort of star turn. Too, part of the way they reported the trip made it look as though they were covering some sort of celebrity, just for the hell of it. Barack lands here, Barack gets on a plane there, Barack rides in a car with a king, bla bla bla.
Then, the very same media criticized itself for covering him too much, reporting that John McCain was jealous and unhappy. They have a lot to answer for. Especially with a new report out Tuesday that shows clear evidence of a bias against favorable reportage of Barack Obama by the three major television networks: CBS, NBC, and ABC.
Basically, the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University found that the three networks “were rougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.”
Conservatives are furiously screaming now, even though Robert Lichter, the head of the center, had been popular with them previously. Lichter is quoted as saying “This information should blow away this silly assumption that more coverage is always better coverage.” Wonder how McCain feels about being called silly, as he and his camp spent most of the last week whining about Obama’s press. And now, of course, since the evidence is against what they think it is, they’re yelling foul.
McCain is yelling very loudly and very nastily with a new attack ad you can see here. Beware, its ugly. But it does include additional commentary and fact checking by Keith Olbermann and an interview with Republican Senator Chuck Hagel who denounces the ad.
It’s not so clear whether other television stations took as much time to dissect the ad, either before or after running it, as it has allegedly played well in swing states, and many voters on the fence seem to be buying it, according to pundits on last night’s Rachel Maddow Show on Air America. Once again, Rick Shenkman is right: the American public will swallow anything, including the clear myth that Obama is an unknown.
If one goes to Obama’s website, reads a paper or two, and checks into the facts presented by commentators (for example, liberal radio host Randi Rhodes offers the research materials she consults for her shows for perusal by her listeners and admonishes them to “not believe anything I say” without checking her facts) there is plenty to read about Barack Obama. As for his lack of experience: he has more than Bush did when he was elected. Remember, before Bush became President he did not even own a passport and had never been out of the country, despite being a rich man’s son
The conservative commentators get their talking points from the White House, as revealed, to no surprise to this writer, by Scott McClellan, author of the recent bestseller about his time as press secretary under President Bush, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.
And when was the last time anyone heard O’Reilly, Sanity, or the Dittohead himself reveal where he got his information or back it up with facts as opposed to just shouting?
In addition, McCain keeps attacking Obama on his position on the surge, with McCain insisting that the surge is working and that we are “winning” the war. But what are we winning? Is there even the semblance of peace in Iraq? Aren’t the Sunnis and Shiites still fighting each other? The New York Times reported today on an increase of women suicide bombers. American soldiers are still getting killed, and McCain won’t even discuss a timetable for withdrawal, and was quoted today as saying “it all depends on conditions on the ground.”
Every time Obama supporters try to bring up the fact that Obama never supported the war in the first place, the Republican talking heads insist that that isn’t the issue.
Yet, whose record is worse on supporting our soldiers after they return home? McCain’s. It may make you weep for our troops.
Apparently, though, a good portion of the American public still hasn’t made up their minds. The facts about both candidates are out there, for the reading and the checking. Anyone who hasn’t made up his or her mind by now just isn’t paying attention.