NOW THAT OBAMA SEEMS TO HAVE IT WON, the press rediscovers a conscience. Here’s a transcript excerpt from Howard Kurtz’s Reliable Sources today, via email from CNN:
On media coverage of money raised during the campaign
KURTZ: Mark Halperin, we learned this morning that Barack Obama in the month of September raised $150 million, the early estimates had been about $100 million. They always kind of leak a lower figure so they can exceed it.
If a Republican had not taken public financing and had raised all that money, and the Democrat was struggling financially, wouldn’t we see a lot of stories about one candidate essentially trying to buy the election?
HALPERIN: We would. We’d also see a lot of stories about his going back on his word saying that he would accept the public money and would reach out to Senator McCain to try to work out a deal. So I think this is a case of a clear, unambiguous double standard, and any reporter who doesn’t ask themselves, why is that, why would it be different if it’s a Republican? I think is doing themselves and our profession and our democracy a disservice.
There’s been a lot of that kind of disservice.
UPDATE: Reader Eli Israel emails:
To my mind, the phrase “seems to have it won,” gives Obama too much credit. What I see is a campaign with a poor poker face trying to execute a huge bluff, and counting on their friends in the media to corroborate it. It’s an attempt to suppress GOP turnout, and it remains to be seen who’s buying it. Don’t help the Obama campaign take this. If they are to win, they need to earn it.
Well, yes. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to skip voting just because of what’s on TV. And reader Donald Gately writes:
Don’t buy it for a second. I’ve been around for enough election cycles to see this played out exactly the same way many times.
After being in the tank for the Democratic candidate through the whole cycle, they start to pretend to feel bad about letting their built-in biases run amok, and say that they owe it to the American people to do better. But that is only in the hopes of getting the suckers to take their criticism (or, if the winner is the Democrat, lack thereof) seriously. Honestly, I don’t think they are going to be able to hit the reset button this time if their preferred candidate wins. It was easier for Republicans (and center/right folks who voted that way in 2000 and 2004) to let it slide a little in those years, because winning the election made it that much sweeter. If the press drags Obama across the finish line, there will be no forgiving or forgetting. It was way too blatant this year, largely thanks to the blogosphere.
Yes, I thought they were in the tank in 2004, but this has been a whole different order of flacking. Partly I think it’s because they actually like Obama, or at least the idea of Obama, while Kerry was just a not particularly well-liked means of getting rid of Bush. I think they also feel that as the big media lose viewers and circulation, this may be their last chance to swing an election, and so there’s no point saving their credibility for future engagements.
MORE: Another reader emails:
It’s the exact opposite of ‘buying’ the White House, and it’s far worse. It’s “selling” the White House, mortgaging it to a crazy quilt of private greed and power-grabbing. Obama is accumulating a long list of undisclosed debts to interest groups and indivduals, that he is supposed to pay off with government money and regulatory manipulation once in power. These debts are concealed from the public, and for good reason — the public’s benefit is not the purpose of these future reckonings. McCain has foresworn going into the White House with a secret agenda — Obama may win BECAUSE he has such a secret agenda. If McCain’s campaign does not make this point in ads on the TV channels hosting Obama’s half-hour pre-election special, before and after that half-hour, it’s another reason he deserves to lose. That the mainstream media declines to point this out on their own air time is — well, to be expected.
Glenn, please don’t use my name, only (if you can) identify me as a major news media employee whose company is facing major budget cuts, who doesn’t want to give grounds for being one item on the budget cut list.
That description is apt, as it’s somebody I know. It’s a climate of fear in the media, apparently.