Thursday, October 23, 2008

Negative coverage of the candidates

There's been a lot of talk about media coverage of the presidential candidates lately. Obama gets more coverage than McCain, Palin gets considerably more than Biden, Obama's tends to be more positive (if you stick to newspapers and don't consider talk radio).
I'd like to discuss character attacks. I've talked about Dirty Politics before, but I'd like to do it again, focusing on what dirt is true about the candidates, and what's actually said.
We'll start with Obama:
A relative told me he's Arab and Muslim. Fact: his father was Muslim. He's Christian (but not the "I'm saved" type Christian). His father didn't do much to raise him--in fact, Obama was primarily raised by his grandmother. Obama was born and, for the most part, raised in the US. He's 100% American and 100% Christian.
Another relative told me he refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance and he's unpatriotic. Also not true.
Certain people (cough cough Sarah Palin cough cough) have said that he's been "pallin' around with terrorists." This comment is an obvious attempt to tie him to 9/11 (since many people believe he's Arab, Muslim, and unpatriotic), and judging from what some of my relatives believe, the attempt will be successful with some people. An acquaintance of his was at one time involved with domestic terrorism, but has now become a prominent, well-respected member of his community. Once a terrorist, always a terrorist? Or can people change? And does acquaintance equal "pallin' around"?
From what I've seen, people don't discuss Obama's former drug use much. Sounds like he wasn't the best-behaved teenager.
Obama's campaign shows a bit more respect towards McCain--they don't imply he's a terrorist--but they also try to put him in a negative light, and they try to show him as out-of-touch with the middle-class. However, for some reason, they've restrained from attacks on his personal life--they don't bring up his first marriage or his affairs very often. They also don't talk about where Cindy McCain gets her money--from alcohol. The alcohol lobby happens to be very powerful.
The media is very quiet about Biden. Seriously, he gets very little attention.
Palin, like Obama, gets a ton of attention. Why? Like Obama, she's a polarizing figure. Early on, there were some distasteful rumors about her baby actually being her grandchild (obviously false). There were also rumors about her belonging to an organization whose main goal was to have an Alaska vote for secession (sounds pretty un-American to me...) The last time that happened, we had a civil war. In any case, she was not a member of the group, but her husband was, and she had spoken at some of their meetings. Question--how much have you heard about her association with this group? Now think back to when Obama's pastor was in the news. How much coverage did his anti-American sentiment get? I really don't think the media's favoring Obama here.
My take is this. The media's goal is to make money. They get more money talking about Obama's pastor than Mr. Palin's organization, because, frankly, it's more interesting.
My other take--for some reason, when it comes to believing lies about a candidate, the lies about Obama are much worse than the lies about McCain. Obama may have more positive coverage, but very little of the coverage on McCain is as filthy as the talk radio coverage or the mass email coverage that's about Obama.
Do you agree or disagree with my take on it?
Why does Obama get more positive media coverage?
And why do the lies about Obama tend to be so much worse?


Brightonwoman said...

I found this grid in Time very interesting
It seems to me that McCain is going more negative (and with wilder claims) than Obama. My personal suspicion is that he knows he is losing, and feels the only way to win is if he can pull Obama's feet out from under him...if you can't win the race by being faster, maybe you can trip the other guy, you know?

Katrina said...

I agree that McCain has been negative; every presidential race I have been conscious of has gotten that way eventually. I also agree that McCain messed up 35 years ago when he cheated on his wife. McCain has acknowledged, also, his remorse over this mistake in his life and that he is not proud of it. However, unlike Obama he hasn't had a long-term (and recent) relationship with an unrepentant terrorist (and Ayres is unrepentant) or been part of a church for 20 years that preached hatred and racism (not that Obama believes all of that, but why would he attend the church for that long if he was totally against it?). If McCain had had either relationship, he would have been raked over the coals by the media countless times by now.

Katrina said...

And why do only your two cousins care enough to make comments?... :)

Tim said...

Ayers relationship with Obama was not close, and it's disgusting that Palin is saying that Obama is "pallin' around with terrorists" given the lies about Obama being a Muslim. Ayers is now a well-respected educator in Chicago.
Second, Palin's husband was part of a group that's main goal was not worshiping Christ, but seceding from the USA. Very comparable to Obama's old church--open disdain for the US. How much has the media attacked Palin for her association with that group? How much did they focus on Obama's pastor, back when they first new about that? It was big news for quite a while. Now it's old news, so of course it doesn't get much attention anymore.
Third, McCain has stated that an Obama presidency would not be scary. (And I respect McCain considerably for saying that, even if those around him aren't so honest).
Talk radio and the McCain campaign are using scare tactics. McCain himself is more reluctant to lower himself to that level.

Tim said...

By the way, I highly recommend the link in the first comment.
And I might even consider voting for McCain, were it not for the people he surrounds himself with.

JJ said...

As far as why Obama gets more positive coverage, I would say that it's because he's a more charismatic, likable guy that presents himself very well. And as for why the lies are worse, I think in a lot of ways he's an easy target because he is so different than anyone who has ever run before. For example, nobody is going to believe that McCain is a muslim, but Obama's father was, so it's not that big of a stretch.

Brentwell said...

I would have to agree that McCain has been more negative this campaign. However, I would say that Obama has had very negative TV advertisements.

What really bothers me watching political advertisements is that most politicians (watching the local Kentucky elections) focus more time and energy on their opponents negatives than their own positives. If these ads are successful in undermining their opponents, then we can never be happy with who is elected. All we know is the misrepresentation of the stands of that politician from his opponents.

Sure we need to differentiate ourselves from our opponents, but we do not need to go on all out smear campaigns (check out these two beauties 1 and 2).

JorgenMan said...

The thing that kills me, as a Republican, is that McCain has plenty of legitimate points to go after Obama on - the economy, healthcare, energy (and I don't mean "drill, baby, drill"), to name just a few. The debates on major issues are far from resolved, and McCain has had several good opportunities to point out flaws in some of Obama's policies. A prime example is the financial roller coaster the country's been on the past couple weeks.

So, what is the McCain campaign strategy? Talk about the cause of the Fannie/Freddie failure, or the feasibility of Obama's health care plan, or nuclear power? No, instead, they rant and rave about Obama's ties to Bill Ayers, which seem tenuous, to say the least. Nice move, idiots!

As for the Time article, it made McCain's and Obama's accusations look about the same to me - a bit of truth and a lot of hype. It's disappointing on both sides.

Tim said...

I agree that both sides need to clean up their acts and focus on the issues.
And Obama certainly has real weaknesses (as opposed to fake ones, like being a Muslim, or friends with a terrorist, or any number of other things).
The negative attack ads against Obama seem to be backfiring--the percentage of people who dislike McCain is going up, and Obama's numbers there are staying stable. So McCain definitely needs to change his approach. I think he's lost credibility in the eyes of a lot of people (prime example-- Colin Powell).

Woodine said...

Well I have to agree with Jorgenman. As a republican I've been frustrated by the numerous opportunities McCain has had to make valid points against Obama but instead has stooped to negative, less relevant criticism. Very disappointing.

That being said, for a few reasons I read the NY Times regularly, and I must say I've become sick, sick, sick with the Obama-love that I've felt there. And that's not a criticism of Obama - it's a criticism of the media. They will have two juxtaposing articles, one slamming McCain and the other praising Obama and this has occurred repeatedly. And when you read the articles they are clearly biased and I can come up with a lot of counter arguments or questions they didn't address. I'm not asking them to never print anything negative about McCain or positive about Obama. But I'd like them to be fair, open minded, and critical thinkers, and they (ok, some of them) are certainly not. I feel like the media (meaning the major networks and newspapers) have really latched on to Obama and have lost their hold on good reporting which, to me, is a tragedy.

Why do I think they've latched on to Obama. He is well spoken, classy, and charismatic. I found it almost humorous while they were going after Palin's daughter for the pregnancy thing, Obama told the media to back off and then there was an article praising him for being so respectful (I did think that was classy) juxtaposed with an article about Palin's daughter. Um, hello?

What bothers me most about the negative coverage is how things (from both parties) are blown way out of proportion. I feel that because the candidates have to watch their words so carefully for fear of the media, we get a watered down view of who they really are and trite, memorized speeches instead of engaging debates.

Basically I think the whole media involvement - the candidate's commercials and the media's bias have gotten out of hand and only persuade me to be sick of this process. It was refreshing to read that article you referenced by the pastor who interviewed the two candidates in an unbiased manner. We need more coverage like that!

JorgenMan said...

I agree with Woodline, 100%.