Media bias provides enormous advantages to Democrats. You’ve got to wonder if they could win many national elections without nearly unanimous support from the press. If any Democrat was judged for just a few days on the standards applied to Republicans, they’d be annihilated.
The most powerful and insidious component of media bias is the Story Not Told. News damaging to Democrats is allowed to slip past without much attention, if not actively embargoed by the mainstream press. Then you have the Narrative Unwoven: the failure of the press to string damaging stories together into a narrative pushed assiduously to its viewers, a narrative that becomes the template for measuring and discarding future stories. Every bad story for a Democrat happens in complete isolation, connected to neither past deeds nor projections of future behavior.
And finally, there’s Damage Containment: if a Democrat does get into trouble, other members of the Party are never put under any great pressure to denounce them, or face presumptions that they harbor similar controversial views. To cite a recent example, Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke got to skip away scott-free after sitting on stage with DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz while the latter compared sitting Republican Governor Scott Walker’s policies to the physical abuse of women. Burke had to lay low for a few days until the controversy blew over, but that’s it. If she and Wasserman Schultz were Republicans, they’d already be footnotes in political history, and every single elected Republican would be expected to repeatedly denounce them in public.
So… have you heard the latest about President Obama’s cratering poll numbers? Not if you get your news from the Obama-friendly mainstream press, you haven’t. Naturally, it was left to Fox News to keep score on how often the press reported Barack Obama and George Bush’s roughly comparable poll numbers at precisely the same moments in their terms:
9 reports in eight months for Obama, 124 for Bush. That’s quite a discrepancy, isn’t it? Newsbusters did a roundup on the Poll Coverage Gap that noted several bad Obama polls have gone completely unreported by all of the mainstream-media outlets, and some networks – notably NBC News – have avoided reporting on a string of the own polls. They’ve also mastered the fine art of plucking one internal number from a poll during the few reports they bothered to file, without informing viewers that the entire poll was full of ghastly results, including the erosion of support for the President among his key constituencies. And at all costs, the networks avoid using the kind of loaded language for Obama’s approval numbers that they routinely deployed against Bush, such as sinking, plummeting, rock bottom, or all-time low.
This studied ignorance has a profound effect on public opinion. When the entire mainstream media is averaging just over one reference to Obama’s approval rating per month, a great many low-interest news consumers won’t hear about it at all. Those who are vaguely aware that Obama’s in a bit of trouble don’t realize just how bad it is, particularly when the media takes pains to avoid reporting that he’s lost a huge amount of support from women, or that he’s racking up strong disapproval on virtually every issue.
Which makes Obama’s unpopularity the Narrative Unwoven. What the mainstream media gave you with George Bush was a story about how he blew it. Theories were offered as to how he went wrong, and of course there were confident predictions that his party would suffer during the 2006 midterm elections, which of course they did. News consumers were handed a coloring book called “Republicans Get Creamed Because Of Bush” and a pack of crayons. Obama’s unpopularity isn’t exactly “concealed” at this point, but it’s been downplayed, giving Democrats space to distance themselves from the sinking presidential ship and pour money into individual, isolated local races – which has been reflected in tightening congressional polls of late. In fact, as of this week, many vulnerable Democrats are running well ahead of the party’s disastrous 7-point generic deficit against the Republicans. That’s the kind of media service many endangered Republicans would have loved in 2006.
After a few Bush-era Republicans got involved in scandals or embarrassing episodes, they’d also have loved a bit of the damage containment offered to Democrats by their pals in the press. Vice President Joe Biden has offered an astonishing six-year lesson in how nothing a gaffe-prone Democrat says is ever taken as damaging to the Party at large. Biden himself is given limitless dispensation to say any stupid, offensive thing he wants – from goofy pratfalls, to extremely vicious attacks against political opponents. He’s at it again, leading to some whispered speculation that this time, he might have gone too far. I very much doubt that.
Yes, the Vice President of the United States just referred to predatory, dishonest lawyers as “Shylocks.” As reported by Yahoo News, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League was so surprised he almost forgot the (D) after Biden’s name:
???Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day. The Vice President should have been more careful,??? Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said.
Shylock, the villain in Shakespeare???s ???The Merchant of Venice,??? is a Jewish moneylender who mercilessly demands a ???pound of flesh??? from the merchant who defaults on a loan. Whether the 16th-century play is anti-Semitic or reflects the anti-Semitism of the time is a subject offrequent, bitter debate, but the term Shylock is offensive enough that Florida stripped it from state law back in 2009. (Not everyone has gotten that memo).
???When someone as friendly to the Jewish community and open and tolerant an individual as is Vice President Joe Biden, uses the term ‘Shylocked??? to describe unscrupulous moneylenders dealing with service men and women, we see once again how deeply embedded this stereotype about Jews is in society,??? Foxman said.
Hey, remember when the Left feigned a complete nervous breakdown over Sarah Palin using the term “blood libel” to refer to the Left’s previous fake nervous breakdown, in which they painted her as an accessory to the Tucson shootings? Remember when Virginia Senator George Allen was instantly and permanently destroyed for using a made-up word the media magically transformed into a crypto-racist slur? That was all totally different, because they didn’t have (D) after their names. There won’t be any deep analysis from shout-show amateur shrinks about how Biden’s gaffe offers a glimpse into the dark vein of anti-Semitism running through the Democrat Party. It’s just “Joe being Joe.” He later declared “Shylock” was a poor choice of words, so that will be the end of it.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) will pay no media price for claiming that passing an amnesty-laced “comprehensive immigration reform” bill would have helped contain the ebola outbreak on Tuesday – one of the more extreme examples of an ideologue trying to use every news event to push his pet issue. I strongly recommend politicians who lack the magic (D) after their names avoid using tragedies that have killed hundreds of people, and exploded into global health crises, as leverage to push their favorite bills. You’ll be a laughingstock overnight.
The closest thing I can see to a catastrophic failure of the magic (D) shield at the moment was Rep. Nancy Pelosi telling HBO host Bill Maher, “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if Republicans win the Senate.”
That was even a bit much for Maher, who has previously seen few limits to expressing his bile toward Republicans. “This and ISIS are threatening civilization?” he asked incredulously, to which Pelosi replied, “Yeah, it is really important.” The magic (D) trembled for a moment… but luckily, loyal Democrat media quickly decided Pelosi was just making a joke, and besides, Republicans are hyper-partisans too, and anyway politicians used to pummel and shoot each other back in the Nineteenth Century, so it’s all good. Right, Boston Globe?
Ugh. Equating Republicans to the murderous thugs who beheaded James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines? It seems so out of bounds, so repugnant as to beggar belief. Indeed, watch the clip of Maher???s show and one suspects from Pelosi???s tone of voice and body language that she was just making a ham-handed attempt at humor. She???s not much of a natural comedian, however. Her laughter as she delivered her lines sounded more diabolical ??? think Dr. Evil ??? than ho-ho-ho. And to be frank, under the theory that there???s often an element of truth behind every joke, one has to wonder whether Pelosi really does believe what she said. If so, her world may be soon upended; most political handicappers give better than even chances that this November the Senate in fact will turn Republican.
Pelosi???s language was yet another example of the hyperpartisanship that grips our politics. Granted, it???s an equal opportunity problem. It???s not only that each party uses mockery and caricatures of the other???s leaders to whip up their bases (John Boehner and Pelosi are both frequent targets). That???s campaign stuff and, while offensive, is almost to be expected. But what happens on the campaign trail no longer stays on the campaign trail. President Obama refuses to engage Republicans, governing through executive order on matters such as immigration. The GOP talks of impeachment and won???t even confirm ambassadors for nations such as Turkey and Sierra Leone. A dense and nasty cloud of vituperation hangs over Washington.
Some will argue that this is nothing new, and they have a point. Politics in the 19th century was sometimes especially brutal. In 1856, for example, South Carolina congressman Preston Brooks nearly beat to death Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner. But many of the arguments back then were over slavery, an issue that brooked no compromise and ultimately led to the Civil War.
“The GOP talks of impeachment?” No, the Democrats talk of impeachment, incessantly, including about 5,000 fund-raising emails informing their gullible supporters that unless they make another donation pronto, there’s no telling what those evil Republicans will do to our beautiful African-American President.
When Republicans say something controversial, the speaker is toast, and the entire party is expected to ritually denounce him or her for weeks on end. When Democrats get out of line, we hear that America is just too gosh-darn partisan and mean-spirited, so everybody really ought to be nicer to each other. Since Democrats are pulling out all the stops to stave off a devastating midterm election loss, I imagine we’ll be reading a lot of navel-gazing op-eds about the need for a New Tone in politics this Christmas season. Maybe we’ll even start hearing news about ObamaCare again after the election, too.