Dean and CNN's Intolerance of Dissent

Atrios has a good post showing just how severely Dean was butchered and bashed on a recent edition of CNN's Inside Politics for stating that releasing a vague terror threat based on three-year information on the Monday after the Democratic National Convention was politically motivated. Of course, what Dean said was so obvious that the Bush administration was forced to respond, and that response is now the top headline on Yahoo News. But don't let that fool you--Dean, as is his way, was insane for making that comment.

CNN's hawk hack job on Dean is a another example of the intolerance the media has not only has for Dean, but but for non-official, anti-war, left-wing positions in general.

The most famous example of this is probably the way CNN did everything in its power to paint Dean negatively for a comment he made after the capture of Saddam Hussein. With the exception of the Trippi documentary "True Believers," (Jerome has a brief appearance in that), during the many postmortems of the Dean campaign run by CNN, one subject always comes up: Dean's assertion in mid-December that the capture of Saddam Hussein did not make the United States safer. Supposedly, according to Bill Schneider, this is one of the major reasons, if not the reason, that Dean went down:"Oh my," many voters said when they finally met the former Vermont governor. "You're not at all what I expected." Howard Dean's personal favourability ratings started to decline in December, the day after Saddam Hussein was captured and Mr. Dean said it "has not made America safer." The problem wasn't what Mr. Dean said -- most Americans agree with him -- the problem was when he said it: at a moment when the country was feeling relief and satisfaction. What? Dean wasn't supposed to say what most Americans agreed with because they were all feeling relaxed and satisfied after Saddam was captured? Why would they feel relaxed if capturing Saddam wouldn't make them safer? Schneider implies that at the time when Dean made his comment, almost all Americans did disagree with what he said. However, a CNN poll at the time showed that while what Dean said was a minority opinion, it was held by one-third of the nation:

CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll"Do you think the war with Iraq has made the U.S. safer or less safe from terrorism?"

		Yes  No
6/21-6/23/04	37   55
12/15-11/16/03	56   33 
11/14-11/16/03	48   43
The notion that expressing an opinion held by a fairly substantial minority of the country (now a healthy majority) is a gaffe disgusts me. A poll analyst tells us that Dean made a gaffe disagreeing with hawks supposedly because it annoyed people who were feeling "relaxed and satisfied?" What really happened to Dean after this remark was that stations such as CNN, along with his pro-war primary opponents, represented his statement as a gaffe rather than as a serious position held by at least one third of the nation that deserved serious consideration and discussion. That is why Dean's favorables started to decline. They did this because they did not believe that Dean's position, or any left-wing position on the war, was worthy of serious discussion during their triumphalism over Saddam capture. As Schneider's comment shows, even though a majority of the country now agrees with Dean, CNN would probably still pile on anyone would made that statement now.

Then again, what else should I expect from a representative outlet of the television news media that went through the entire run up to war while massively under-representing and basically ignoring the views of those opposed to invasion:

Looking at two weeks of coverage (1/30/03-2/12/03), FAIR examined the 393 on-camera sources who appeared in nightly news stories about Iraq on ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News and PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. The study began one week before and ended one week after Secretary of State Colin Powell's February 5 presentation at the U.N., a time that saw particularly intense debate about the idea of a war against Iraq on the national and international level.

More than two-thirds (267 out of 393) of the guests featured were from the United States. Of the U.S. guests, a striking 75 percent (199) were either current or former government or military officials. Only one of the official U.S. sources-- Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.)-- expressed skepticism or opposition to the war. Even this was couched in vague terms: "Once we get in there how are we going to get out, what's the loss for American troops are going to be, how long we're going to be stationed there, what's the cost is going to be," said Kennedy on NBC Nightly News (2/5/03).

Here is a Los Angles Times poll taken at the start of the two weeks the FAIR study examines:

The Los Angeles Times Poll, Jan. 30-Feb. 2, 2003. N=1,385 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3 (total sample). "Suppose President George W. Bush decides to order U.S. troops into a ground attack against Iraqi forces. Would you support or oppose that decision?"

	         Support Oppose
ALL		   57	   38
Democrats	           40	   52
Independents	   57	   38
Republicans	   84	   14
Men		   65	   31
Women		   49	   45
Although it is not mentioned in the FAIR study, I have to wonder how many of the official sources interviewed by network news programs were men. Clearly, at the start of the time period that FAIR conducted its study, support for the war among women was split, while men favored it more than 2-1 (they must have been taking their Viagra). CNN is an example of the nearly absolute intolerance of not only left-wing and pacifist minority dissent, but also of the opinions of women. Support for the war nationally was only 57-38, but on the news, among official US sources, it was 266-1. As far as CNN and other outlets of televised news both were and still are concerned, the only thing they are less willing to tolerate than Howard Dean are the left-wing positions on terrorism and the war to which he speaks. This latest "outburst" is just another example of the general rule.

Tags: Media (all tags)

Comments

2 Comments

Absolutely right
And the same "insane" label, they also applied to Al Gore after he had the temerity to stand up against this administration.
by clawed 2004-08-03 04:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Dean and CNN's Intolerance of Dissent
Great comment here:

http://www.haloscan.com/comments.php?user=atrios&comment=109150425248245554#891714

by Jerome Armstrong 2004-08-03 05:18PM | 0 recs

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