Mon, April 06

Letter: Media did not fail the electorate


I would like to respond to Jim Barber's letter "They failed that responsibility miserably" in the Nov. 14 edition.

If one looks at the study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, it's clear that Mr. Barber has only cited those portions of the study that support his theory that the media unfairly treated John McCain in the recent Presidential campaign. But looking at the study in its entirety, one might rightly draw a different conclusion.

The study states that much of McCain's media coverage "was derived from actions by the senator himself, actions that, in the end, generated mostly negative assessments." It further states that, "For McCain, coverage began positively, but turned sharply negative with McCain's reaction to the crisis in the financial markets." The study adds that "... attacks on Obama's character did hurt Obama's media coverage, but McCain's was even more negative."

In other words, McCain's treatment by the media was self-inflicted.

Read even further into the study, and you discover that a majority of the media coverage was about the "horse race" - the candidate's standings in the polls. For the leader in the polls, the news was positive. For the candidate who was behind, the news was negative. And since Obama led more of the time, his coverage was more positive. For the media to treat it otherwise would display bias.

As for Mr. Barber's assertion that news anchors are openly biased, I fear he's confusing news commentators and analysts with news anchors. "Hardball with Chris Matthews" is a commentary program based on the news. To call Chris Matthews a news anchor is like calling Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh journalists. Neither is factual.

For Mr. Barber to claim that we know more about Joe the plumber than we do about President-elect Obama is simply absurd. President-elect Obama was vetted thoroughly in his campaigns for the Illinois Legislature, the U.S. Senate, during the Democratic primaries and throughout the general election. The media investigated his birth certificate, his education, his family, his background, his finances, his associates, his church, his pastor, his voting record, and his views on the many serious issues facing this country. He answered questions from thousands of reporters and citizens on the campaign trail. He was challenged in numerous debates. And he appeared on dozens of news programs. Despite all of this, right wing conservatives seem certain that there is much dirt to be uncovered. As a result, they convince themselves that the media has failed to do its job.

It hasn't.

Gary LaMaster


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