Nobody’s perfect. Everyone makes mistakes.
Even when those mistakes are conscious, there is always a chance to reverse them, if one catches oneself in time.
Take the wrong route; don’t be afraid to do a U-turn and correct the error. Wear the wrong necktie, dress right the next time to correct the impression. Make the wrong choice; don’t be afraid to make the right one next time.
The American news media, known collectively as “the MainStream Media” or MSM for decades now, has made a collective choice: most have been part and parcel of the Democratic Party, either admittedly or not, for generations.
They have acted as a cheering section for Democrat presidents and partisans, not only when it was contrary to their nation’s interest, but even when it was contrary to their own self-interest. Television ratings, newspaper circulation, and radio ad sales have long proven that blatant left-wing bias is the path to ruin of all but the niche outlets, but that hasn’t stopped them. They remain leftist; perhaps their consistency, at least, can be considered admirable.
But there have been moments when the leftist MSM, and even the Democratic Party itself, have stood up and acknowledged an error. It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while, lightning strikes.
When Lyndon Baines Johnson’s horrendous administration was costing the nation in every way – the streets becoming more dangerous, businesses fleeing the taxes and regulations of his growing welfare state, our soldiers ever more endangered in southeast Asia… the MSM and the Democratic Party leadership finally turned on him and forced him to withdraw from the 1968 reelection race. They had covered up for him for years, but by the winter of 1967-68, they had seen too much, and almost as a single body, they allowed daylight to shine on his administration, and the primaries were on.
Similarly, in 1979-80, the disaster of the Jimmy Carter presidency was there for all to see. Softball questions in the media, the most favorable spin imaginable for poor appointments, disastrous foreign policy judgment, and economic and societal “malaise” became shameful for a mass media that had simply reached the limit. Again, they stayed Democrat, but they had to show their independence from the mighty donkey, and did so by supporting a primary challenge. Again, that challenge was from the left – Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy, the midnight swimmer and noted socialist and deviant.
As was Hubert Humphrey in 1968, he too was the wrong choice, and this one failed in the primaries… but at least the vigorous 1980 challenge proved for the history books that the American left had some principles beyond just winning elections, that the American left was not prey for any cult of personality, willing to support the Lenin, Stalin, Krushchev or Brezhnev of the day like Pravda and Izvestia had to do an ocean away. They stood up, proudly, to oppose corruption or incompetence in 1968 and 1980. Never mind that they had enabled that corruption and incompetence, that combination of anti-American mismanagement and destructive policy for so long.
At least they confessed in the end that their hero wasn’t perfect, and supported some kind of fair contest for the leadership of their party. They could look back on their careers and say “remember how we did the right thing in spring, 1968? Remember how we fairly covered the Kennedy challenge in the winter of 1979-80 and at least gave it a chance? Oh, those were the days. We were brave, weren’t we?”
Their moment of shame
When the historians write about the Obama years, many questions will be asked. The obvious ones, of course: How did a community organizer, a freshman senator with no accomplishments in his life, win the presidency? Why did the press cover for him after scandals like “Fast and Furious” and the Bengazi killings? Why did they allow his administration to change the way they count job losses, and even stranger, job creation? How on earth wasn’t the concept of “jobs saved or created,” as a way to gauge failed campaign promises, laughed out of the room the second it was first run up the flagpole?
Oh yes, the press has a great deal to answer for.
But most striking was the primary season in 2012. The historians will ask for a hundred years, why on earth wasn’t there a primary challenge? How on earth could the Democratic Party have let him coast to reelection unchallenged, when the Democratic Party rank-and-file was so broadly dispirited by his presidency?
The historians will count the numbers of federal, state and local Democrat politicians who found something else to do in September, so they wouldn’t have to attend the Democratic National Convention. Candidates for state and federal office avoiding joint appearances so they couldn’t be photographed alongside the party’s millstone; sharing the ticket with him would be bad enough, they didn’t want to be captured on film with him as well. And the vote dropoff in the primaries was stark, as downticket legislators would ring up more votes than the unchallenged incumbent president at the top of the primary ballot. Surely a real challenge would have done very well indeed. Why was there none?
Such numbers have been largely left out of the mainstream media coverage of the 2012 election thus far; they will not be left out of the history books. Not when the state of West Virginia saw a federal prisoner, Keith Judd, serving seventeen years for extortion, rack up 42% against Barack Obama in the presidential primary. When given an alternative to President Obama, nearly half the Democratic Party primary voters of West Virginia preferred an incarcerated criminal to the incumbent bearer of the party’s banner. This single snapshot indicates a level of ongoing disgust far beyond anything the media have been willing to admit. They’ve tried to keep it under wraps, hoping to enable their party champion to limp through one more election in time before it all explodes. Why???
It’s not too late.
Still, it is never too late. The calendar allows the media one last chance for redemption. Just as Orthodox Christianity believes that a final perfect confession before the end can wipe the slate relatively clean, the calendar has a moment, the beginning of the debate season, when the press can start from scratch.
After the first presidential debate, the press starts issuing their editorials. They start covering the race in more detail than they had before, even since the conventions. They can pretend to begin anew, and can wear a straight face as they say “this is or isn’t the same person we’ve been covering before; it’s a whole new ballgame now.”
The press has known Mitt Romney for many years. He saved many companies in trouble, and he led the teams that built many other great firms from scratch. He turned around the Salt Lake City Olympics and did wonders as governor of Massachusetts. He’s the perfect nominee for a tough turnaround job, exactly what America needs today.
But the American people don’t really know him, so the press can pretend that they too are learning for the first time, after the first 2012 presidential debate, that Mitt Romney is indeed the right man for the job.
They don’t have to admit to making a mistake in 2008 by supporting the incumbent; they don’t have to say that they were snookered alongside the half of the voting public that were snookered too (with their help). The press is really luckier than the Catholic in the confessional; the press doesn’t have to admit error in the past so much as change their direction for the future.
The veil was dropped on Wednesday, October 3, 2012, A.D., and everything changed. Without the press to snip only the best soundbites to share with their readers, listeners, and viewers… without the softball questions of liberal reporters in the tank for the Democratic Party… directly confronted by the talented and brilliant Mitt Romney, the harsh lights of a stage and the cameras beaming their answers to over 70 million viewers… the world was finally able to fairly compare Barack Obama with a real executive, a real CEO who knows how to hire honest and talented appointees, who knows how to make good decisions, who knows how to prioritize, who knows how to keep his eye on the ball, who knows how to deliver.
By the end of the debate, Barack Obama looked like he was wishing he were back home in Indonesia, where at least he could have been eating dog instead of crow.
Within minutes, the response to the debate was overwhelmingly one-sided, with virtually none of the spin one sees after a draw or near-draw, claiming an underserved win “for their guy”. Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, even the most partisan, most outrageous of the left-wing talking heads, all were agreeing that Obama’s performance was an embarrassment. The fact of Obama’s failure at the debate was so universally agreed-upon that we were waiting for Obama himself to tweet it.
The advice from the left – yes, from his own side! – started coming in the next morning. For the next debate, don’t smirk… for the next debate, don’t condescend… for the next debate, don’t mope, don’t look at your feet, don’t stammer… oh heck, just don’t go.
A chance for redemption?
This fair coverage - at last - is a welcome and unexpected moment. Perhaps the final weeks of the campaign can be covered fairly, and the MSM can make up for some of their past failures, if only they do the right thing now.
It’s time for the press to do a 180 on the Obama moment. They can blame themselves, or others, they can blame his party or his spinmeisters, they can blame the city of Chicago or the unstoppable winds of history. It doesn’t matter who or what they blame, as long as they do.
As they write their editorials, they can say that the Democratic Party should have run someone else in this difficult year, and evade blame themselves, even as Democrat politicians can cast the blame back on the media. It doesn’t matter how they explain it, if at all.
But to save the country, and to save their consciences… perhaps even to save the Democratic Party… they must come around and acknowledge that Mitt Romney is the only logical choice for president in 2012.
They don’t have to convert to the Republican Party. They don’t have to become conservative. They don’t have to renounce any of the principles they currently hold, wise or foolish though those principles may be. They just need to wake up and acknowledge, in their coverage and in their editorials, that Barack Obama is out of his depth, that he’s the wrong man for the job in 2012, and that all the American people – conservative, liberal, and moderate – native-born and immigrants alike – young and old, rich and poor – need the country put aright again. And the man to do that is Mitt Romney, not Barack Obama.
The coverage has to change, and this is the MSM’s chance. Will they do it? Or will they continue stubbornly to charge off the cliffs like lemmings, as they have so often done in the past, pulling wagons behind them containing our nation’s very future?
There isn’t much time – for the Democrats, for the press, for any of us.
What will they do for the historians of the future? Will they give the chapter a happy ending – that the press and the Democrats saw the contest clearly before the end - much like Darth Vader's final scene in "The Empire Strikes Back," come to think of it - and patriotically choose country over party, supporting the right man by acclamation?
Or will they stay true to type, leaving the history books to be written like the Greek tragedies, a constant progression toward disaster that the audience sees coming, but which the obstinacy or foolishness of the actors onstage renders an immovable course?
We will watch, wonder, and worry, as we wait for the editorials and the final month of news stories… ever pitying any nation that outsources its political information to a hyperpartisan and self-blinding elite.
Copyright 2012 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and trade compliance trainer. A former chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he has now been a recovering politician since 1997. His columns regularly appear in Illinois Review.
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