Elections: Don’t Be Media Fooled

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I am not endorsing Edwards in this article. If you support Obama or Clinton because you genuinely think they are the best candidates, then I defend your right to vote for them. However, if you are a Democrat or have an interest in seeing a Democrat back in the White House, you need to look outside of the choices presented to you by the mainstream media.


[National: Elections Comment]


“The race in South Carolina between Obama and Clinton tonight at 11:00” was the teaser from the local NBC affiliate.

The commercial was telling the viewer that the station would air the results of the South Carolina Democratic Primary by that night’s 11:00 news broadcast.

On the same day, I scanned the websites for NBC News, ABC News, CBS News and CNN. I clicked on the “Politics” section of each site. Between the four sites, I counted a total of 15 out of 16 articles that had Obama, Clinton or both in their headline.

Two of the sites featured polls that asked the question, “Obama or Clinton?”

After the Democrats took back the house and senate in 2006, conventional wisdom was that all the Democrats had to do in the 2008 presidential election was to elect a warm body as the Democratic presidential candidate. Twelve years of a Republican dominated house and senate left a legacy of scandal, corruption and a well-earned reputation as a blank check that endorsed all of the Bush administration’s policies.

The Bush administration lost the confidence of even Republican voters after their lies and mismanagement leading to the invasion of Iraq was revealed. The Bush administration further alienated the entire country through their lack of preparation, action and responsiveness to Katrina.

Even fiscal conservatives are disillusioned by the administration’s inability to control spending and the ever deepening budget deficit that lack of control has caused. All of these things created the perfect storm for the Democrats to drown the Republicans in their own rhetoric. How quickly the tide has changed.

I saw it coming. It started last year with Republicans talking about Hilary Clinton in an almost complimentary fashion--that’s right, Republicans. I wrote an article about it in March of 2007 called “Follow the Attack Dogs”. The basic premise of the article was my suspicion of the compliments I heard from Republicans about Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Those same Republicans would literally foam at the mouth when Al Gore’s name was mentioned as a possible candidate. The Republicans knew then that their only chance at victory in 2008 was to run against either Clinton or Obama.

The hatchet job done by Republicans on Hilary Clinton during her husband’s presidency was thorough and complete. Through books, television interviews and an untold number of editorials, the Republicans were able to create an image of Hilary Clinton as a cold, calculated Ice Queen whose ambitions were to lead the country down a path into a left wing hellhole.

Over the years, I’ve talked with people affiliated with both parties that seem to have an unreasonable disdain for her. I label it “unreasonable’ because when I ask them to explain their feelings towards her, they can’t articulate it. They just know they don’t like her. According to many polls, she is way too polarizing a figure to ever be elected president. The Republicans know this. If Democrats know this as well, they don’t seem to want to acknowledge it. 

Regarding Obama, the Republicans know what America seems either too polite to say, or too unwilling to admit to. That is that this country is not yet at the point where it will elect a Black man, particularly a Black man named Barack Hussein Obama, to the highest office in the land.

Many whites are easily seduced into thinking that these United States of America are more liberal thinking in the area of race than they actually are. I only have to reflect on the 2006 senate race in Tennessee, where Republican candidate Bob Corker played the race card against Harold Ford Jr. by running a television ad which suggested that Ford was partying at the Playboy Mansion with white women.

When all else failed in a very close race, the Corker campaign used what Republicans have been using for years to get them over the hump; race. This was part of the Republican “Southern Strategy” that Ken Mehlman acknowledged and apologized for to an NAACP audience the year before.

The Democrats understand these dynamics. However, they are handcuffed. You can’t claim to be the “Party of Inclusion” if you’re not willing to support women and minority candidates. Their own rhetoric has been used against them.

Now the mainstream media seems to have joined the Republicans in presenting the American people with only two choices for the Democratic nomination. Some people might think my accusation of media complicity is a stretch. Keep in mind; this is the same media that did not question the legitimacy of administration’s claims in the days leading to the invasion of Iraq.

This is the same media that failed to inform the American people about the creation of the Office of Special Plans, or give an appropriate amount of attention to the fact that the ties to the GOP trumped experience as the only litmus test in selecting the staff sent to rebuild Iraq. Lastly, this is the media that thanks to the FCC is now owned by large corporations and ideologues. This media is accountable for making a profit, not uncovering and disseminating truths.

At first I thought the media was just intrigued at the prospect of having the first legitimate black or female presidential candidates. It’s a sexier story than showing the same old six-foot white males in dark 2- piece suits. The eyes and ears didn’t follow Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich and John Edwards as easily as they did Obama and Clinton. Obama and Clinton’s candidacies are something new. However, I became increasingly concerned as mainstream media began to act as the other candidates didn’t even exist.

We were consistently being shown national polls that told us Obama and Clinton were the leading candidates with slim hopes for the others. We were allowed to follow Obama and Clinton on the campaign trail while the other Democratic candidate’s campaigns tried desperately to get similar coverage and exposure.  

Dennis Kucinich, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden have now dropped out of the race. John Edwards remains the only white male in the race. Edwards’ campaign theme has been that there are “Two Americas”, and that he is the candidate that can restore us back to a single America. Edwards’ message of tackling poverty, increasing the minimum wage to $9.50 to help working families, providing health care to all, and tax breaks to strengthen the middle class should resonate with Black voters, 70% of which are still working class and below.

Edwards also speaks to the issue of race and the racial divide in ways that even Obama is reluctant or unable to. Obama risks alienating or scaring off some white voters that have long been his base of support if he is perceived as being too sympathetic to “Black” issues.

Unlike Hilary Clinton, Edwards also long ago admitted that his vote to give the administration authorization to use force in Iraq was a mistake. He has promised to reduce forces in Iraq and has put forth a plan to end the war. Edwards is the only candidate that scares the Republicans, as well as corporate America. That would be the same corporate America that now runs all of our media outlets.  

I am not endorsing Edwards in this article. If you support Obama or Clinton because you genuinely think they are the best candidates, then I defend your right to vote for them.

However, if you are a Democrat or have an interest in seeing a Democrat back in the White House, you need to look outside of the choices presented to you by the mainstream media. If you’re asked to choose between Obama and Clinton, you need to question their motivation.



Black Star News contributing columnist Stephens can be reached via andre.w.stephens@hotmail.com



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