Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Good Old Lie Machine

"Yet amazingly, the [Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times] piece never once mentions the extensive and nefarious tactics the Bush campaign used to create those doubts -- and those tactics are central to the story of this race. The role of the Bush campaign in winning is invariably described in approving terms: Bumiller’s piece describes Bush as charismatic and full of clarity and conviction, and she takes note of the tactical effectiveness of the ground game and the anti-gay ballot initiatives. There is no mention anywhere of the Bush campaign’s relentless efforts to paint Kerry as weak and vacillating by lying about his record and mischaracterizing his remarks on the stump -- distortions that, inarguably, did far more violence to the truth than any similar ones coming from Kerry’s side. This take asks us to believe that doubts about Kerry are the fault of nobody but himself; the Bush campaign was merely a passive beneficiary. Worse, it refuses to see campaigns in moral terms: It allows for no moral comparison between boosting evangelical turnout with crude anti-gay appeals and boosting turnout among African Americans by telling them that the right to vote is precious and mustn’t be squandered."

I think this article by Greg Sargent, in the American Prospect online, is on point. I haven't heard too much blaming of John Kerry and I am glad of it. But what I have heard seems to stress his faults too much. I think the failings of the Democratic Party were far greater and that the Party consistently underestimates the control Republicans have in getting their message out. The Republicans have complete control of the spin machine, to the extent that they can often escape the charge of having spun at all. While people shrug off Kerry's hunting trip as a play for votes, they smile at Bush on a fishing show.
The tendency is to say, "Well, Kerry cannot pull it off because he is too wooden." But that is a fallacy built up by the Republicans and swallowed whole by the media.
It's interesting that these things appear in the New York Times, often hailed as the backbone of that (elusive) liberal media. In fact, Fox News often gets fodder from the NY Times. The Bumiller article was on the front page, not given the label of an opinion piece.
"To be fair to Bumiller, the conventions of political reporting today largely dictate that coverage remain resolutely amoral. And she buttresses her version of events by anonymously quoting Democrats who also found fault with Kerry in various ways, though their motives for Monday-morning sniping are somewhat less than pure."
Why is this approved as un-biased coverage? I heard on Air America radio that many in the media have said that they feel a pressure from the right that makes them avoid fuller reporting. They avoid reporting things on the other side that might not be proven yet for fear of being roasted alive on Fox.
I am tired of this. We end up having Bumiller's "reporting" on Kerry's faults and Bush's glories instead of a hard look at the structures of the campaigns. This is fluff. This is tripe. And it is everywhere.
I am not suggesting that Kerry did nothing wrong, or that the American Prospect piece is a fairer article (at least it does not pretend to be fair and balanced). But let's not forget what was actually done to the American mind by the Republicans during this campaign.

"Before the postmortems enshrine the Kerry-is-at-fault story line, it’s also worth remembering that there’s a simple reason winners invariably push the notion that the loser has no one to blame but himself for defeat: It absolves the winning side from blame for its own reliance on unsavory tactics to win. As obvious as this is, however, political reporters can always be counted on to play along, because there’s one unassailable rule of post-campaign stories: To the victor goes the spin."