The me­dia’s out­ra­geous role in midterm elec­tions

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - DOUGLAS MACKIN­NON

Nov. 7, 2006, will be re­mem­bered as the day the Demo­cratic Party took back con­trol of Congress for three dis­tinct and crit­i­cally im­por­tant rea­sons.

First and fore­most was the se­ries of Repub­li­can mis­steps — such as cor­rup­tion, the lead­er­ship turn­ing a blind eye to the cor­rup­tion, bud­get-bust­ing ear­marks and a lack of real ac­tion on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion. Th­ese ac­tions not only sup­pressed the vote for the Repub­li­can Party, but ac­tu­ally en­er­gized a num­ber of Demo­cratic vot­ers.

Sec­ond was the num­ber of in­cred­i­bly well-run Demo­cratic cam­paigns and their own very im­pres­sive get-out-the-vote ma­chine. This was great stuff by any hon­est as­sess­ment.

Third, Nov. 7 needs to be re­mem­bered for some­thing even Repub­li­cans don’t have the stom­ach to ad­dress at the mo­ment: that the rem­nants of ob­jec­tiv­ity in the main­stream me­dia were all but ex­ter­mi­nated by some on the left. A chill­ing and omi­nous de­vel­op­ment that played some role in the Demo­cratic wave that is still splash­ing around the red states.

Make no mis­take. Along with the mul­ti­tude of Repub­li­can gaffes, and the hard work of the Democrats, there can be no doubt that the left-of-cen­ter main­stream me­dia helped to man­u­fac­ture this elec­tion vic­tory for the Demo­cratic Party. For parts of the last two years, many in the me­dia have worked in con­cert with the Demo­cratic spin doc­tors to in­doc­tri­nate the Amer­i­can voter into be­liev­ing this elec­tion had to be a ref­er­en­dum on Pres­i­dent Bush and the “failed” war in Iraq.

Hor­ri­fied by Mr. Bush’s re­elec­tion in 2004, as well as the his­toric Repub­li­can gains in the House and the Se­nate that year, some lib­er­als in the me­dia were de­ter­mined to do ev­ery­thing in their power to en­sure that there was no GOP cel­e­bra­tion in 2006, even if that meant con­firm­ing to the world that they proudly aban­don pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ethics in the name of par­ti­san­ship and ide­ol­ogy.

To make the elec­tion of 2006 a ref­er­en­dum on Mr. Bush and “his” war, the me­dia knew full well they had to present that con­flict in the worst pos­si­ble light for as long as pos­si­ble on their nightly news­casts, cable pro- grams and front pages. Then, af­ter force-feed­ing the Amer­i­can peo­ple a steady diet of this car­nage for weeks at a time, the same me­dia out­lets would then “poll” the vot­ers to get their im­pres­sions of Iraq and Mr. Bush.

Amaz­ingly, against the protests of sol­diers fight­ing and dy­ing in Iraq, the main­stream me­dia stuck with this par­ti­san plan to only show­case the neg­a­tive, the mis­ery and the gore. They ig­nored the pleas of th­ese sol­diers to show that not only did they lib­er­ate a na­tion from a geno­ci­dal tyrant, but with com­pas­sion and great de­cency (of­ten at the cost of their own lives), they helped to re­build the coun­try and con­nect with its peo­ple on a much-needed hu­man level. The good far out­num­bers the bad in Iraq, but the good was the en­emy of a Demo­cratic vic­tory on Nov. 7.

Worse than be­com­ing a pub­li­cre­la­tions arm for the Democrats, did some in the me­dia ac­tu­ally aid and abet al Qaeda with their bi­ased cov­er­age? It has been fully doc­u­mented that al Qaeda and the in­sur­gents be­lieve that if you kill enough Amer­i­can sol­diers and have those deaths played on a loop by the Amer­i­can me­dia, then the Amer­i­can peo­ple and their politi­cians will grow weak in the knee and call for a with­drawal.

Know­ing that to be a stated goal of al Qaeda, and just be­fore the elec­tion, CNN still de­cided to take a hor­rific video given to them by the in­sur­gents, and put it on the air for the world to see. And just what was on this video? Only heroic Amer­i­can sol­diers be­ing mur­dered in cold blood by al Qaeda snipers. Other than to dam­age the ad­min­is­tra­tion or ad­vance a par­ti­san agenda, why would CNN air such dis­gust­ing footage?

Next, to all but en­sure the de­sired out­come, a num­ber of leftof-cen­ter “jour­nal­ists” de­cided it was nec­es­sary to pre­ma­turely crown the Democrats the vic­tors. Their think­ing was that if you tell a lie or pre­de­ter­mine the re­sults of­ten enough, it be­comes fact. So, months be­fore the elec­tion, on the front page of the top one hun­dred left-of-cen­ter news­pa­pers in the United States — with a read­er­ship well north of 70 mil­lion peo­ple — ban­ner head­lines pro­claimed that the Democrats were all but cer­tain to take both houses of Congress. Day af­ter day, week af­ter week, th­ese lib­eral pa­pers fore­told a fu­ture ben­e­fi­cial to the Democrats.

This is a fu­ture that has now come true. To be sure, the ma­jor­ity of the blame rests with the Repub­li­can Party and its lem­min­g­like march to be­come what it de­feated in 1994. That said, it is not par­ti­san, nor out of line, to ask if some in the me­dia car­ried wa­ter for the Democrats in this elec­tion.

While it is cer­tainly true that left-of-cen­ter me­dia out­lets con­tinue to hem­or­rhage read­ers and view­ers in search of fair­ness and bal­ance, for the mo­ment they don’t seem to care. Be­cause of the un­eth­i­cal ac­tions of some within their in­dus­try, they helped de­ter­mine an elec­tion.

The Democrats won, but democ­racy has paid a price. Who in the me­dia is will­ing to ad­dress that?

Douglas MacKin­non was press sec­re­tary to for­mer Sen. Bob Dole. He is also a for­mer White House and Pen­tagon of­fi­cial.

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