The CNN Effect

The election is getting down to the wire, and the 24-hour news channels, the blogs, the newspapers all seem to have fallen into the same pattern. Almost as soon as the polls started to reveal a commanding lead for Obama, the media all seem to be providing strategic advice to the fumbling McCain campaign. We keep seeing headlines and hearing teases along the lines of “How McCain Could Turn the Tables.”

It’s clear that the news media have a distinct interest in keeping their viewers and readers engaged by making the race seem much closer than it actually is. A race in which a horse wins by a nose is much more exciting. So the media keep harping on the idea that the 9 or 10 or 14 point lead that Obama has in the popular vote, along with the 100+ lead in electoral votes, can be closed up if only McCain can magically come up with the right formula. Never mind that nothing even close to a formula of any kind has emerged thus far from the McCain campaign.

Perhaps as close as we come to a formula is an extension of the vile tactics used in 2000 and 2004 to suppress the (Democratic) vote, as described last night on Rachel Maddow’s show by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.:

Considering the gravity of the issues that Kennedy raises, it’s somewhat shocking that the media (with Rachel Maddow and Rolling Stone being two notable exceptions) have given virtually no play to this story.

I want to believe that the effect of this most recent round of media apathy will be offset by the foolishness of dim bulbs like Michelle Bachman, whose neo-McCarthy-esque proclamations about a litmus test in Congress to determine whether our elected officials are pro-America or anti-America have had the unintended consequence of filling the campaign coffers of her Democratic opponent. The almost universal rejection of her statements and of other similarly extremist positions seems to indicate that America just isn’t willing to buy this load of crap any more.