How Media Manufactures And Distorts "News"....

-A +A

[Elections 2008: The Race Matters]



Google “can obama win white vote” today and you get about 15,000 responses.

Most are duplicates of the same few wire stories, but many are not, and almost all raise the same specter: Barack Obama can’t win in November because he can’t win the white vote.

First, that’s far from a fact. He has won millions of white votes, including mine. Second, Democrats have won three of the last four presidential popular votes, and lost the white vote each time, so why is it necessary for Obama to win it this time? Would Hillary Clinton win the white vote in November? Her husband never did.

So are these news stories really serious analysis of an important issue, or just another way to undermine Obama’s campaign? I would suggest a little bit of both.

Newspaper reporters and editors choose what to define as “news.” Let’s look at the track record so far: Jeremiah Wright is news; John Hagee is not. Bill Clinton’s fortune is news; Cindy McCain’s is not. Barack Obama has never run a business or been in a government, which is news; John McCain hasn’t either, but who cares? It’s news that white racists won’t vote for Obama; it’s not news that they apparently will vote for Clinton or Obama …

The analysis so far boils down to little more than stereotypes and assumptions. It’s apparently safe to assume, for example, that white Democrats who have voted for Clinton over Obama naturally will vote for McCain over Obama. Obama is elitist because he’s not winning the blue-collar white vote; Clinton and McCain aren’t winning the blue-collar black vote, but that doesn’t make them elitist.

Not all newspaper columnists have toed the line, of course. Here’s my favorite quote: “Racists should decide the Democratic nomination,” Issac J. Bailey wrote Friday in the Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Sun News. “Sen. Hillary Clinton didn’t use those words in an interview with USA Today, but she came close.” (Which I pulled from an excellent piece in the Black Star News).

Overall, however, the tone of coverage has been “We newspaper folks are not at all racist, of course, but there are so many racists out there that you’re taking a big risk by voting for a black guy. It might be safer to vote for the white candidate instead. That will show those racists!”

I am not suggesting most newspaper people are racist. I definitely am suggesting that most have a conservative bias. Conservative conventional wisdom is that you need the white vote to win elections, even if you have to offend the non-white vote to get it.

Newspapers are reinforcing that “wisdom.”

So I’m a white guy in rural Oregon and I’m more excited about Obama than about any candidate in decades, but that’s not a story to the mainstream media. Now if I hated him, that would be another story.





To comment, to subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to

Also visit out sister publications Harlem Business News

publications and The Groove Music magazine

"Speaking Truth To Power."

Also Check Out...

Women’s Group Unveiling New
Utah Officer who ordered dog to
Rep. Bass: “I am deeply concerned
Black Business will award $50,000
Ethiopia must Stop deadly use of
Spurs' Patty Mills launches