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Media: 'I've got a crush on Obama'

(Credit: Politirazzi)

By Dontre

It isn't hard, really, to understand how Senator Obama, no matter what he’s doing, makes for better television than Senator McCain. In the age where political campaigns are run much like Hollywood soap operas, and the appearance of a candidate matters just as much (if not more) as what they’re saying, the Illinois senator has the perfect combination of a silver screen actor: good looks, articulate, glimmering personality. There is no real confusion, then, that he commands the attention (and bias) of the media over Senator McCain, his older counterpart who, at best, has the allure of a black and white, 1950's Western. At least, as far as Hollywood is concerned.

But, the realm of politics is not Hollywood, and given the task of disseminating information to the masses, not only is it inappropriate for the news media to carry-on a love affair with Senator Obama, it is an outright insult to Senator McCain’s constituents (and those still deciding for whom to vote) to be inundated with around-the-clock coverage of Senator Obama’s every move. Media has the ability to shape public opinion and its position as Senator Obama’s lapdog not only ignores that there’s a viable candidate who is also in this race, but it unfairly attempts to guide the hands of voters by limiting their access to his opponent, and (even if subconsciously) sway them in his favor.

I am of the opinion that news should be fair and balanced—or at least try to be; editorials and talking heads notwithstanding. We know that full objectivity doesn’t exist, but viewers/readers can certainly tell when favoritism does. Those who make the argument that Mr. Obama’s campaign is, somehow, more newsworthy than Mr. McCain’s do so out of their own bias for his candidacy. Sen. Obama isn’t more newsworthy than Sen. McCain, but he is better at the art of stagecraft. What exists between the candidates isn’t a comparative of their newsworthiness, rather the ability to produce the ready-made news image.

(continued) Senator Obama’s campaign excels at taking pretty pictures. Dazzling photos abound of the Senator surrounded by thousands of adoring fans, high atop his platform, riding the wave “hope.” Sen. McCain can attract a crowd, too, but, as Newsweek explains, he has a “deep distaste for the artifice of modern media-driven campaigns — all this business about standing in precisely this spot and reading precisely this line off a teleprompter exactly the same way a dozen times a day.” Obama is a top-notch orator, who has even adopted a cadence akin to some of the most influential pastors of Black churches — melodically paced, reaching a crescendo at his most important points, then slipping back into a musical lull that carries the audience. McCain, on the other hand, prefers to ‘shoot from the hip,’ as it were, where he can interact with his audience — often in a visually dull, town-hall meeting. Despite his lack of media-savvy, it does not mean that Sen. McCain has nothing important to say. After all, pretty pictures do no a campaign make. He is confident that his genuineness is what will connect with voters, rather than razzle-dazzle political theatrics.

However, this does not absolve the media of their blatant fawning over Sen. Obama. There is some merit in McCain’s claim that he is being shoved aside in favor of Obama, and not just because of his media missteps. In the 12 May 2008 issue of New York magazine, Kurt Andersen explains that the much of the media is enamored with Obama because they happen to fall into his target demographic. This was first noted in the Democratic primary, when he opposed Hillary Clinton, and still rings true in the race against John McCain. Andersen writes, “And the great majority of media people are members of the same (white) demographic cohort that rejected Hillary and voted for Barack — educated, more-affluent than-average residents of cities and suburbs.” Andersen notes that Obama not only shares these qualities with the various members of the media, but that he is also well-traveled, a lovely writer, and “a little quixotic” makes him a media darling, and an idealized version of themselves. Clinton, and now McCain, can’t even compete. Clinton’s styling as a warrior for the blue-collar worker, and McCain’s no-frills Straight Talk Express are mass media categories that rarely make it into the foreground, and when they do, they are often portrayed as losers, which, if the media has their way, is precisely where they are trying to push Senator McCain.

For now, though, the Arizona senator can take some comfort that even though is opponent has the backing of the media and is greeted like a top-billing movie star, there is still a strong following for those old country Westerns; and his brand can even be extended to that of the war hero, which sells very well in this country.

Tags: barack obama , media coverage , dontre l. conerly

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