Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Election media blackout
If it was about America's future, why didn't the candidates talk about the steady erosion of our civil liberties, climate change or the structural problems our country is experiencing as we transition to a nearly all service global economy?
The answer is because they think they can't. After the first debate and media commentariat reaction, I am more convinced than ever that the candidates can't tell us the truth partly because their financial backers don't want them to, and partly because they are afraid that we won't like what they say and will vote for the guy who tells us the nicer story.
They are probably right. So what is a politician to do? If you are Mitt Romney, you lie because no one will call you on it.
The conventional wisdom now says that Mitt Romney is tied, if not in the lead. A Pew research poll came out showing that Mitt Romney gained 12 points on the President after the debate. 12 points. This is unprecedented.
But what is even more unprecedented is how completely negligent, or I would assert, downright complicit the media has been in perpetuating the lies told during this debate that were apparently compelling enough to earned Romney a win. Facts have clearly become entirely irrelevant. If the media doesn't choose to point out that Romney's claim that President Obama increased the debt by more than all previous presidents combined is demonstrably false, it doesn't really matter what the candidates say. The only thing that matters is how they say it.
Yes, Obama didn't do a good job of pushing back against Romney, but debating someone who will not defend his stated positions is not easy. (BTW did anyone else notice that Romney conceded that Romney-care was a good thing?) But just imagine what the media would have said if Obama had called Romney out: "The President seemed defensive and it looked like Mitt Romney got under his skin. And what was with all those numbers? What is this guy, like a professor or something?"
The reason Mitt Romney is now suddenly winning is because he came across as more trustworthy and likeable. But don't you think that perception might be different if the media was actually pointing out that Romney repeatedly lied?
But we have to think about this from the media's profit driven perspective. If this race was perceived as a run-a-way for the President (as was starting to happen in the wake of the 47% video) everyone would stop watching the news, and they wouldn't be able to sell as many political ads. It makes perfect sense that they need to keep this race "close." The media used to earn its place as the only constitutionally protected occupation because they actually held politicians accountable. Now, their checks are signed by one of the 5 transnational corporations that own our media.
Needless to say, in terms of national politics, I have reached the point of pessimistic hedonistic nihilism.
But my rage at the seemingly goldfish-like attention span of the wider American electorate is tempered by what is happening in The People's Republic of Cascadia, I mean, Washington State. We are on the verge of becoming the first state in the nation to enact marriage equality by public vote, legalize marijuana and we are about to elect the "greenest governor" in the country.
So I think the best way to maintain my sanity is to follow the Larry David plan for a self enforced media blackout. Yesterday was the first day in a long time that I came home and didn't turn on the news.
I will let you know how it goes.
But I do reserve the right to tune back in when the October surprise happens. I think the smart money is on a war with Syria or maybe the release of the photos of Osama's corpse.