The perils of getting in bed with the MSM

Recently, a diarist on MyDD reposted a relatively new canard that Jake Tapper at ABC invented. The diarist (presumably an Obama supporter) wanted to share the following "improved" quotation from a Bill Clinton talk about global warming: 2008/01/bill-we-just-ha.html

"We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."

Numerous commenters quickly explained that the quote was taken horribly out of context. I don't need to rehash the whole argument, I will just refer you here: hives/14426.html

Now, this particular misquote is so grusome that even some right wing bloggers complained about it. I don't think it is really going to do much damage to the Clinton campaign, because it was caught and addressed quickly. I am only picking on this event as an illustration of the dangerous flip side of Obama's current cozy relationship with the MSM. At times, I have mused whether Obama's media darling status in the primary might translate into a media landscape in the GE at least slightly less slanted toward the Republican candidate than what Clinton could expect. If so, it is a point in Obama's favor in terms of electability.

Even so, I think even passively letting the media act out their antipathy toward the Clintons (much less assisting the media in their vendetta) is a strategic mistake. There are countervailing factors that nearly cancel out that electability argument.

I'll explain what I mean in the extended entry.

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Campaign Metaphor - ship of state

I am trying to work out a metaphor to illustrate the choice we are presented in election '08. One old and moldy one is the "Ship of State". Our ship of state has been under the command of a reckless captain and a self dealing, corrupt crew. Working together, they have steered us onto the rocks, presumably hoping to get rich from salvaging the wreckage, or maybe they are just fond of shipwrecks. Soon our bad captain will be stealing a lifeboat, (and taking some of his evil crew with him).

All the Republican candidates seem to be saying variations on "Elect me your captain, and full speed ahead! We'll smash those rocks, because of my manly leadership."

Hillary Clinton's message is: "Elect me your captain. I have been in these waters before, and I know how to steer us clear of the rocks and get us back on course."

John Edwards message is: "Elect me your captain. I have the strength of will to fight the remaining evil crewmen if they dare to disobey my orders."

Here is where I need some help. I cannot figure out exactly what Obama's message is. Maybe: "Elect me your captain. I can win the rocks over to our side." or "Elect me your captain. I will unite the evil and good crewmen with my charisma." or "Elect me your captain. It's time we got past petty bickering over which way the ship is headed, and worked together to form a new ocean, where the rocks are all soft, and the water isn't wet." Any ideas?

I am being somewhat silly above of course, but it does illustrate a real point of confusion for me. I really cannot understand the Obama phenomenon - why so many people (including many public figures for whom I have great respect) go for his message, how it could ever actually work in the real world, what Obamaism (assuming that is a word) means in practical terms.

I'd welcome any real thoughts from any perspective. There is a decent chance that I will be voting for this man in November, and I would like to understand his movement.

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King Lear politics is still with us

My hero Bob Somerby talks about the "King Lear" effect of MSM political coverage, wherein those designated liars are liars even when they speak the truth, and vice versa. I really like that analogy, because it points out that this sort of tragedy has been played out many times before. Even when we know how badly it will end (Iraq, anybody?), it will take a great and concerted effort from all Democrats to alter the story line.

What happened in NH gives me some hope. The growth of Internet voices means that the media does not have as free a hand as they did in 2000. They were caught dancing on Clinton's political grave before she was officially pronounced dead, and suffered a backlash. Chris Matthews even apologized (sort of), before going right back to doing the stuff he was supposedly sorry for doing.

Lets make a pact. Obama supporters: if you refuse to slap the media for distorting Clinton's record and statements, your complaints about their coming distortions regarding Obama will be dismissed as partisan. Clinton supporters: if you want your complaints about media coverage to gain traction, you must be consistent by insisting on fair coverage for all candidates. Edwards (and Kucinich, etc.) supporters: the only way to keep progressive candidates from being ignored is to force the media to stop forcing their coverage to conform with favored scripts. It is probably too late this cycle, but what happens for the rest of this cycle sets the table for future cycles, just as 2008 is in many ways a reprise of the script from 2000.

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Media Narrative - deja vu all over again

I am an avid reader of both MyDD and Bob Somerby's incomparable media watch site The Daily Howler and today I would like to just remind all the smart folks on this blog of a few things you probably already know. The thoughts in this diary are not original, but amid the recent discussion of racial politics, and the strong advocacy/spin doctoring, I think we all should take a step back and try to see how the Democratic primary campaign got to its current state.

I think all of us are aware that the mainstream media have been following a set line of narrative in their reportage, but I have seen scant analysis on MyDD lately as to what drives that narrative, much less what it means to Democrats for the GE, or what we should be doing about it.

In the extended entry, I will offer my thoughts, and hope to spark a conversation in the comments among the more thoughtful posters here. I hope the discussion will not dissolve too quickly into the sad bomb-throwing matches that we see all too often these days in the comment threads.

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