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September 23, 2004

"Shouldn't We Be Talking About the Real Issues?"

Mayflower Hill thinks we should all stop talking about Rathergate and start focusing on the "real issues." You know-- the issues that hurt Bush.

I hear this in the liberal media eighty times a day. Over and over again-- "Can't we talk about the real issues? Can't we talk about Iraq?"

Here's the problem with that, boys.

First, as Kausfiles points out, we can talk about more than one issue at a time.

Second, as Kausfiles also points out, this is in fact a major story, no matter how much the liberal media or their political wing, the Democratic Party, would like to pretend it isn't. You've got a high-ranking Kerry aide, former Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart, on the phone with a CBS producer and an unhinged Texas Democrat who is at least the conveyer of forged documents.

We're told again and again that the media doesn't care which party a story may damage; they're only interested in a juicy story. Well, here's an objectively juicy story, ladies. And yet it keeps getting reported deep in the interior of the paper, and every night we have to listen to sermonettes from you insufferable pricks about what a "distraction" all of this silly CBS-abetted-political-forgery-to-corruptly-change-the-outcome-of-a-political-election seems to be.

Third -- and this is my point -- it sure seems to me that this was considered a "real issue" two weeks ago when it was assumed the documents were authentic and showed that Bush got special treatment in the Guard over thirty fucking years ago.

But suddenly, the issue can't hurt Bush -- indeed, it hurts Kerry both directly (to the extent people suspect his campaign was involved in the deception-- not a wild suspicion, given the Mapes-Lockhart-Burnett fogery Triange Trade) as well as indirectly, by wounding the credibility of the institution that is most helpful and most committed to getting Kerry elected.

The biggest part of media bias isn't their double standards, although those are quite egregious -- when Trent Lott says something nice about doddering Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond, that's a media uproar; when Chris Dodd praises the life's work of former Ku Klux Klan Kleagle Robert Byrd, that doesn't even make the evening news.

And the biggest part of media bias also isn't slanting stories, although they're quite blatant about that. The Heritage Foundation -- both nominally non-partisan and conservative leaning -- is always identified as conservative leaning. Meanwhile, all liberal advocacy groups and think tanks, from the Institute for Peace to the Committe for a Responsible Federal Budget which are nominally non-partisan and also irrefutably left-leaning are of course described as "non-partisan."

A simple rule in the stylebook could end this practice once and for all. Either organizations will be described as "non-partisan" if they are in fact nominally non-partisan, or they can be described according to how they tend to lean ideologically, or both; but all such organizations must be described the same way. Not one rule for right-leaning organizations and a completely different rule for left-leaning ones.

A simple enough rule, of course. But the media won't institute this very simple, bright-line, black-letter rule, because they want the freedom to brand conservative-leaning organizations as "conservative," while dishonestly calling nominally non-partisan but transparently left-leaning organizations as simply "non-partisan."

The rule would be simple to declare and easy to follow and enforce. This isn't difficult, guys. They don't announce such a rule, nor adhere to such a rule, because they don't want to.

But even that sort of dishonest shading isn't the worst form of media bias.

No, the worst form of media bias is simple bias in story selection. The media gets to decide which stories get front-page play for weeks at a time (Abu Ghraib) and which get virtually no mention whatsoever (Sarin shells discovered in Iraq).

I have less and less interest in what the media thinks the "real issues" in this campaign are, because, coincidentally enough I'm sure, the "real issue" always turns out to be the issue that can most damage Bush and most help John Kerry.

When we captured Saddam Hussein in December, and it seemed as if Iraq would become a less dangerous place, the media was quite insistent that the economy -- the slow job growth -- was the "real issue."

Trouble is, from January through May we had explosive job growth, and yet the media -- previously deeming this the "real issue," remember -- suddenly wasn't so terribly interested at all in job growth. The better the economy got, the less of a "real issue" it suddenly seemed.

Of course, the economy went through a soft patch, and became a "real issue" again; but now job growth seems back on track, and the economy seems to have regained its "traction" (according to Fed Chair Greenspan), and guess what? It's not a "real issue" anymore.

The "real issue" for this week is of course Iraq, because Iraq is in pretty shitty shape. Should the unlikely happen and the level of violence decrease in Iraq, our media wisemen will decide that there's a new "real issue" we should all be terribly concerned about-- probably health care. That's always a go-to "real issue" when you've got nothing else.

So, forgive the fuck out of me, Dear Liberal Media, when I tell you that I don't give a rat's red raw ass as to your enlightened conception of what the current "real issue" facing all of us might be. You don't think that a major media organization participating in a clumsy forgery in order to change the outcome of an American Presidential election a "real issue;" I hope you will not be terribly put off when I inform you that I do.

And I hope that you're not offended further that I've even dared to express my opinion on the matter, and thereby showing the temerity to challenge your self-asserted right to judge on my behalf what ought to be occupying my thoughts at any particular moment.

This was a "real issue" when it could be used to hurt Bush. Need I list the stories on CBS News, 60 Minutes, CNN, Hardball, etc? Need I link the print stories in USAToday, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe?

So, two weeks ago it was a "real issue." Now that this "real issue" has backfired and is wounding the candidate you support, as well as your ability to continue propping him up, it has ceased to be a "real issue."

Go fuck yourselves.

Was that a little unclear? Perhaps the teensiest little bit indirect? Maybe a little too subtle?

Well, let me clarify my previous remarks:

Go fuck yourselves, assholes. I didn't elect you as my own personal fucking mentor, and I'm getting goddamned sick of your presumption in telling me what the fuck I should be interested in and concerned about.

P.S.: Does anyone doubt that if Keith Olbermann's evidence-free speculation turned out to be true-- that, O Happy Day!, it did turn out that Karl Rove was in fact the author of the forgeries-- that the Liberal Media wouldn't suddenly proclaim that this is in fact not only a Real Issue once again, but furthermore a Real Issue of Extraordinary Importance Requiring Flood the Zone Front Page Coverage Seven Days a Week and Repeatedly Compared in Terms of Impact to Watergate and the McCarthy Hearings?

Can Chris Fucking Matthews even look himself in the mirror and not crack a shit-eating grin as he says, "I swear, if Karl Rove were behind this rather than a partisan Democrat with shadowy connections to the Kerry Camp, I would be equally insistent that this is not a 'real issue' and should not 'distract us' from the real issues confronting us in this election"?

I'd like to be there when he tries. I'll hold the box of Kleenex for wiping his eyes after he stops laughing like a maniac goofed up on happy-gas.

And This Isn't Just Me Ranting Like a Lunatic Either; Instapundit Says So Too Update:

And it matters because Big Media are still the main way that our society learns about what's happening, and talks about it. A serious breakdown there, which seems undeniably present today, is very important. In many ways, as I've said before, it's more important than how the election turns out.

Instapundit's quite right; Presidents come and go, but the Liberal Media is Forever. They seem to almost grasp the challenge to their self-presumed authority, and they're reacting predictably to it.

They knew Bush was going to be on the ballot this fall, and possibly tossed out office. They didn't imagine that they themselves would be.

They don't seem to be liking the idea of that very much at all.

They all seem so happy to burble on about getting more "diverse voices" in the media when they assume those "diverse voices" will be ideological soul-mates -- better than soul-mates, actually; soul-mates to their left, who can help drag the media even further to the left (where most reporters and editors think it ought to be anyway) while they, the normal establishment liberal media, can pose as moderating centrists in the mix.

But now that they're getting a taste of genuine diversity, they don't seem to like the flavor so much.

I was trying to explain to a fairly moderate woman why I cared so much about Rathergate. I said, half-jokingly, that if I had the choice between beating John Kerry or beating Dan Rather, I'd have trouble making a decision.

I was, as I say, half-joking.

But not entirely joking.

Because the refs in this game -- the liberal media -- are hopelessly biased in favor the home team, and the home team is always the Democratic Party. I don't know about you, but, given the choice, I think I'd be tempted to lump a major loss if in return I could receive a permanent change in the umpire corps.

A loss is just a loss. But a change in the rules of the game to rules which don't always disfavor your team-- well, that's potentially a dynasty.

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