The media’s outrageous role in midterm elections
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.