Was there any surprise yesterday that, as the hour approached for the first presidential debate, that the frantic Republican Party would resuscitate a “long-lost” 2007 video of President Obama speaking of then-GOP President George W. Bush’s indifference to the problems of blacks and other minorities?
Was there any surprise this “news” story was launched at a time when the GOP’s candidate was sucking air in most of the polls as next month’s elections inch closer? Surely not from the Republican party, a party that has been described as “pale, stale and male.”
Was there any surprise that the right-wing media — Fox News and radio propagandists Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity — would trumpet the “news” as a game changer for their plastic-man candidate, Romney?
The right wants us to believe Obama is a racist, that he hates whites. This is a favored right-wing attack. Spread fear that blacks will take over America. “Voters unite, act immediately,” the fear-mongers scream. Sweat, sweat.
Certainly no one fears black power more than the GOP base of Southerners and Tea Party types. “We want our country back,” they say, meaning all the time “our white country.” GOP leaders hope the ’07 video inflames the base so much they will storm to the polls in a few weeks. And those leaders also hope to persuade those significant few who have yet to decode the political landscape clearly. It’s meager stuff but it must work. Republicans have used it ala “The Southern Strategy” since Reagan.
But really, how relevant is a five-year old video about race in an election that should focus on jobs and the economy? The video serves only as a distraction because Republicans have nothing else to run on. The party is asking voters to forget history, to put back in power the criminals that led to our financial collapse in 2008. And the Republicans are the very ones who obstructed the Obama administration at every turn, the ones who said almost four years ago their goal was to make Obama a one-term president. Not that Obama didn’t have problems of his own making. But how can you solve big problems with a small mind-set like that?
And was it a surprise the mainstream media would cave in and not only give credence to this piece of “news” but play it up big? NBC led off its “Nightly News” yesterday with the story, and the Times ran it on the front page this morning. Though the Times merely traced the video’s origins back to the right-wing pundit, Tucker Carlson, the front-page display indicated the newspaper thought the news relevant.
No news organization runs more scared than NBC, who seems eager to atone for the sins of its MSNBC channel. MSNBC is so liberal and biased toward the left that it rivals right-wing FOX in distortions although not in out-right lying.
What drives the mainstream media to such silliness? It is fear, fear of being seen as biased. They so dearly want to be objective, so they say. But this is what happens when presidential races become runaways in the public mind. The media become vulnerable to criticism. By nature, they are defensive. Reputations and profits are at stake. The GOP knows this and uses the “bias” tactic with great skill.
Objectivity is a worthy goal. But a search for truth and relevance is even better.