Monday, September 3, 2012
Is the media controlling the agenda?
I kept shaking my head in disgust the other night when I heard Wolf Blitzer tell Paul Ryan that he would have to wait for the fact checkers to verify the accuracy of his statement. Huh? I can't imagine Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Tim Russert or even Dan Rather saying such a preposterous thing. Like a competent attorney, those four journalists, I mentioned knew the answer before asking the question. Wolf Blitzer is an excellent journalist, but he has access (or his staff has) to Google, Nexus Lexis and other tools; it's his job to ask the probing questions and to extract honest answers. They might lose some guests following that format but as my wife likes to say," Oh well."
The media is again trying to control the agenda; the first question that was asked of several democratic operatives was “How do you answer Mitt Romney's challenge when he asks if you're better off now than you were four years ago." To be perfectly honest it worked because it stumped Obama's people. They couldn't say that today was great, and they couldn't give a nuance answer without looking like they were babbling. Former President George W.Bush's political consultant, Matthew Dowd, gave the Obama people some good advice on answering that two-fold question. The first is that they should be judged on how they averted a depression, and the second should be to compare the future policies of both candidates. The election will not be about the latest four years or the previous eight years; it will be about the future.
The media on the eve of the Democratic National Convention is now trying to lay out the theme of Friday's job report and its importance because it will come out nine hours after President Obama gives his acceptance speech. The media seems to think that a bad jobs report will put a damper Obama's message keeping him from getting his counter bump to Romney's speech. I think a bump in the polls is no longer relevant because we are so polarized, and so many people have already made up their minds. The debates he might be the determining factor in swaying those independents (4%-6% of the vote).
I was stunned to see Melissa- Harris- Perry of the MSNBC show bearing her name, lose it Saturday and go into several minute tirade. Her guests mentioned that the entrepreneurs are the risk takers. After hearing that she elevated her voice and said"What in the world is riskier than being a poor person in America? I live in a neighborhood where people are shot on my street corner. I live in a neighborhood where people have to figure out how to get their kid into school because maybe it will be a good school and maybe it won't. I'm sick of the idea that being wealthy is risky. No, there's a huge safety net, that whenever you fail, we'll catch you, and catch you, and catch you. Being poor is what is risky. We have to create a safety net for poor people and when we won't because they happen to look different from us, it is the pervasive ugliness. We cannot do that."
The Sunday talk shows provided a little excitement and some good information for a change. I've never heard David Gregory mix it up with a guest as much as he did with Newt Gingrich. The exchange was inevitable because Newt Gingrich wanted a fight with the media as he always does, and he thought he had the upper hand but he was not on Fox News. Newt Gingrich angrily stated that the "Democratic Party plank on abortion is the most extreme plank in the United States. The president of United States voted three times to protect the right of doctors to kill babies who came out of abortion still alive. That plank says tax-paid abortion at any moment of…meaning, partial birth abortion…that’s a 20 percent issue. The vast majority of women do not believe the taxpayers should pay to abort a child in the eighth or ninth month"…
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman replied:
"I’m a Planned Parenthood Democrat on– on– on the issue of– of choice. And I think that is where the country should be. That is where many, many women in this country are. And I’m glad there are people running for the presidency who will defend that position. Period. Paragraph. End it."
With that, David Gregory said, “we’ve got to end there" as the red face guests prepared to depart.
ABC Sunday with George Stephanopoulos was equally exciting and educational because it shed some light on the strategy of the Romney campaign. According to one of Mitt Romney's top consultants, fact checkers are wrong. I think Matthew Dowd gave a great anecdote to that. Mr. Dowd said that Paul Ryan wanted his audience in the hall and those watching on television to believe that Barack Obama did not keep his promise of keeping the plant open in his hometown. Paul Ryan doctored the truth in order to create that impression. Although the Romney campaign is still running the ad in key swing states that lies about Obama removing the of work requirement for welfare; they did not mention it during the convention. I believe Bill Clinton will clear up any discrepancies when he speaks Wednesday night.
I've never seen Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday, behave the way he did yesterday. He acted as though he was part of the Romney/Ryan ticket. He thought the numbers he put on the board were going to be the determining factors of the election. He was surprised when Brit Hume and Bill Kristol didn't exactly agree with him. I was surprised when Bill Kristol said Paul Ryan should have owned up to their part in the financial crisis because most people don't believe that the Democrats or Obama are solely to blame. Most people are aware of what the Obama administration inherited. He said it would have put pressure on Obama to admit that mistakes were made by both parties. Obama can now take the high road and say that he learned from those mistakes and if given four more years he will go out of his way to incorporate Republican ideas; even if giving a little more than he wants to.
Who in the world scheduled, Bill Clinton’s Democratic National Convention prime time speaking engagement on the same night that the Dallas Cowboys play the New York Giants? Hello Clint Eastwood fiasco, the Democrats will match that. That's going to be a long night for me because I will have to TiVo the convention and watch it after the game. Oh well, I'm retired.
Have a good Labor Day everyone.