Friday, June 20, 2008

“Is it basically fair?”

The ABC's "World News" this evening I heard Charles Gibson talk about Barack Obama receiving a lot of criticism for his decision to opt out of the public financing system and then Charles asked George Stepanopolis the following question:

George, I've heard a lot of political analysis today about his decision, but let me ask you a question about basic fairness. People in this country like to believe that people play on a level playing field and that a campaign will be about ideas and personality. If you start with that much more money, is it basically fair?

Coming from someone in the main-stream media doesn't that strike you as an incredibly dishonest question? More money will allow Barack Obama to get his message directly to the public by means of paid advertisements, bypassing the incredibly biased filter that is the main-stream media. I am not surprised they are not happy about that but it takes a lot of chutzpah on their part to suggest that it is unfair.

The main-stream media works very hard to influence public opinion to the benefit of their corporate owners by their power to frame the debate and, even more importantly, their power to prevent ideas from even being presented. For example, I know that for a large percentage of the American public the War in Iraq is the most important issue in deciding with candidate to support for president. And yet in the thousands of hours of pundits endlessly discussing the various candidates the main-stream media has presented in this campaign almost never is the War in Iraq mentioned as a reason why voters might pick one candidate over another. In exactly the same way that Geico endlessly repeats in their advertisements "Geico can save you money on your insurance" hoping to bypass your conscious filters to implant the idea in your head, the main-stream media is trying to convince you that the War In Iraq is NOT the basis by which people are deciding who to support.

Another example of the main-stream news unleveling the playing field of ideas, several weeks ago the New York Times reported that the military recruited and paid more than 75 retired military officers to portray Iraq as an urgent threat and continues to pay many of them generate favorable coverage this Administration's wartime performance. Many of these paid agents appeared in the main-stream media, presented as presumably unbiased experts on military matters. This is obviously a very important story, one you would expect to be presented, especially by the networks who unknowingly presented these propagandists to an unsuspecting public. As of yet there has been no mention of this story on the networks, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN or Fox. Is that "basically fair?"

So where is this supposed level playing field of ideas that all of Barack Obama's money, mainly raised as small internet contributions from hundreds of thousands of donors (and none from lobbyists) is going to destroy?

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