By Barry Rubin
Monday, February 27, 2012
Apology: On the February 27 subscription feed I had the wrong link to the full article for this. As given at the end of this article, this is the correct link:
By Barry Rubin
I don’t understand—and I haven’t seen anyone even try to explain it—why the Republican presidential candidates keep subjecting themselves to politically partisan, hostile journalists being in control their debates. These journalists have been highly partisan previously and seem to shield President Obama from criticism and go on the offensive to try, for example, to turn the whole debate into the pretense that these candidates want to make birth control pills illegal.
Why didn’t these candidates just get together, especially now that there are only four left, to choose their own panel, say with each of them picking one questioner? And whenever Newt Gingrich challenged the premises--and honesty--of the questioners, he was met with wild applause because both the mass media's bias and the need to challenge it openly couldn't be more obvious.
But, you might ask, does it make sense to go to war with the mass media? Of course not, unless it is already at war with you. Nothing like this has been seen in America for a century or even two. The main newspapers and television networks are determined to reelect Obama, promote the currently dominant leftist (not liberal) ideas without limit and to smear or slander critics.
Why is this so effective? Because roughly half of the American population doesn't even realize it's happening. They think the news media is fair and at least as balanced as it was 10 or 20 or 30 years ago. Consequently, Obama is a big success, the economy is recovering, man-made global warming is the biggest problem facing the planet, and the president's enemies are a bunch of racist, reactionary, stupid people. We will get a clearer picture of the exact proportions on the first Tuesday in November.
The consciously dishonest transformation of an assault on the Catholic church's freedom of religion into a plot to stop the sale of birth control is a prime example. The 100 percent effort to perform character assassination on Republican candidates compared to the near zero level of criticism regarding Obama and his team is another. The downplaying and misinformation regarding scandals from the pre-election Bill Ayers and Reverend Jeremiah Wright issues through the "green energy" rip-offs and the "Fast and Furious" operation is still another. You can, no doubt, think of more.
If you haven’t heard the video of Reverend Franklin Graham on television it is one of those moments when the mass media most obviously cross the line into pure propaganda. Graham was repeatedly asked whether he thought President Obama was a Christian and kept explaining the answer was "yes." He accepts Obama’s saying he was a Christian. But Graham also noted that, according to his own religious beliefs no one could determine someone else’s credentials in that regard, and only Obama knew in his heart whether he was truly a Christian.
Graham didn’t quite get the point—which concerns the difference between a nominal Christian and someone who has a deep personal commitment to live by that religion--across clearly. But any honest person should have understood his meaning. Yet there was a massive media assault afterward twisting his words and falsely asserting that Graham said Obama wasn’t a Christian.
What really startled me, however, was that in a later interview Graham added a critical point. He recounted that he was told beforehand the interview was going to be about the persecution of Christian by Muslim extremists in various countries. That’s why he agreed to do it, Graham explained. Under the circumstances, he was right in accepting the interview—since this is an issue virtually never covered in the mass media—but wrong in letting himself be manipulated.