Sunday, February 17, 2008

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop

The “Women On Top” music video that my family and I created for the Hillary Clinton campaign has been getting an increased amount of views on YouTube this week, thanks to one of the bloggers on Daily Kos who liked it. I’m pleased that it is getting people to talk about the historical struggle for women’s rights and to do some research on women like Victoria Woodhull and Wilma Mankiller. The whole purpose of the video was to show Hillary’s bid for the White House in historical context and it seems that purpose was achieved. It’s especially exciting to see the involvement of so many young people in the political process, and I suspect that has much to do with the charisma and appeal of Senator Obama. For that, we can all be grateful.

I find myself much more attuned to this year’s campaign than in previous years. Though I’ve been politically active since I was old enough to vote, I’ve been following the cable news coverage of the campaigns more closely over the past month and I’ve seen a curious trend emerge. Why is it that the major media outlets who have been the virtual lapdogs of the Bush administration and neo-conservative oligarchy for the past 7 years are suddenly throwing their unabashed support to Barack Obama? I’d like to pose this as an open question to anyone reading this, but before I do, I need to provide you with my own historical context.

Back when I was part of the punk scene in the late seventies, I was about as politically naïve as they come. I had grown up believing in the notion of an impartial press. I was convinced that the newspapers and television news shows were unbiased and only presented facts and that it was up to the observer to interpret those facts in order to arrive at informed decisions. It was only as I became involved in activist events and causes that I realized that it wasn’t necessary to lie in order for the press to distort the truth or influence public opinion. They could do it by either focusing on or withholding their attention from an event or subject. I personally witnessed several of these instances of disinformation. I recall one especially large march and rally I attended with thousands of people in the streets of Downtown Los Angeles, protesting US intervention in Central America. We expected we’d be on the evening news and in the L.A. Times but the evening news came and went as did the next day’s paper, without even a mention of the massive rally. It was like the event never happened and those of us who participated were invisible. And that’s when I realized that the job of the mainstream media is not to inform the masses, but rather to help form and manipulate the opinions of the masses. Check out this link to Adbuster's Media Carta if you want to learn more: Media Carta.

As I’ve grown older, I am much more likely to question what the news media is selling on any given day. I already know who it benefits and it’s not the public interest. It’s the same with many crimes; follow the money and you’ll see who’s running the show and whose interests are being served. The appearance of impartiality wears a very flimsy frock these days. It seems that the taste makers are not just content to tell us what to buy, how to look and what to eat, they also have mastered a way to synthesize our values, add some slick packaging and sell them right back to us. Often, these values are sold to us through celebrities who are either held up as the embodiment of our values or as the antithesis of them. The celebrity making media machine cranks out pop stars to sell us everything from clothing to national policy. And that brings me back to my initial question: why is Obama their new darling? Has the media suddenly become liberal? Do they favor him because they want to change the status quo? Would a change in the status quo benefit the media or the owners of the newspapers and TV stations in the United States? Would it benefit their sponsors? Or is there some other reason?

I encourage you to write in, anonymously or otherwise, and I look forward to reading your thoughts on this subject.


Anonymous said...

My guess is they won't end up supporting either Dem come November. It's all part of the false choices strategy. Make people think they have a choice so they buy into the process.

Jenny Lens said...

Alice, I think a Clinton vs McCain election is a serious threat to the powers-that-be (in control). It's a given that whenever the Republicans, conservatives or fundamentalists support a Democrat or liberal, it's accompanied with many hidden agendas. They ONLY act for their benefit and at our expense.

Some Republicans and conservatives might vote for Hillary. Many African-Americans, Latinos (both of whom have voted for Bush), liberals, independents, younger people, and women (not all women support Hillary) don't always vote, but many will make a point to do so IF Obama is chosen.

PLUS Obama has been very effective in raising money. The Democrats, to my knowledge, have raised more money than the Republicans over-all. Didn't Hillary receive donations from MAJOR Republican contributors, like Rupert Murdoch, of Fox News, aka Faux News?

I know you support her, and of course I'll vote for her given no other choice, but too many feel she and John McCain are not that different. Which means it's gonna be tougher to fight her.

An Obama vs McCain election is much easier to battle because of racism.

Do you all remember the ads about Dukakis and Willy Horton, the convicted black murderer he furloughed (via a law created before he was Mass governor)? That was enough to sink his candidacy in 1988 (vs G. H. Bush).

As you and I know, racism, with its code words and long history in this country, is easier to use as the main reason TO SCARE PEOPLE and get them to VOTE FOR McCAIN (or any opposition).

As Jew, I know about racism. Anti-Semitism is just a subset of racism. People illogically state believing in, or being born into, Judaism is tantamount to belonging to a separate race. Why else were and are Jews pioneers on the forefront of civil rights, other than experiencing racism themselves?

You think ads might imply that voting for Obama is the same as voting for a Jew? Or digging into his campaign and finding Jews behind him? IF it weren't for the Jews, blacks wouldn't have the vote after the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 (or the bill never would have existed).

I am not saying without Jews there would be no civil rights movement. I am saying I wouldn't put it past Republicans, conservatives and fundamentalists to say or imply that!

(For the record, I will only say Jews helped, that's it. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Huey Newton and the Black Panthers, Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, many more, and even LBJ. Civil rights is a long process because the very people who don't want Obama are the ones fighting that principle. It's not just Obama they despise and fear.)

Getting the right to vote and being able to vote are two issues. We know the Republicans have spared no effort to prevent blacks from voting in the last two Presidential elections!

I truly feel racism (and age) are the more serious threats, not sexism (who would have thought I'd ever write that, because sexism has been the biggest issue in my life).

The Republicans know Obama draws the younger crowd, who are very savvy on the net. For the first time, young people have more power than they've ever had because of their social networking and ability to create videos, podcasts, blogs, and traditional media like flyers and newsletters.

Younger people usually create the technology. Alice and I use the tools they create, but many our age and older are clueless and scared (especially if Republican, conservative and fundamentalist who fear the net), compared to younger or older with open minds!

And the youth have more to lose. It's taken a loooong time, but finally some younger people are investing themselves in the political process.

It's truly an historic event on so many levels. To those of us paying attention and with good memories, we know that the Republicans can be counted on to do whatever they can to win the election.

Whether it's swift-boating, phone jamming to prevent people from being offered rides to voting booths, forcing people to show ID's before voting, when not mandated by law, rigging election voting machines, and so on, I pray the Democrats are on top of all that and put up a fight!

It's gonna be the dirtiest election in American History.

Rick said...

Media has a terrible time talking about Hillary as a person. When they talk about her, it is not as a presidential contender, but rather in terms of how she is dressed, her relationship with Bill, her cleavage, her tears, her personality (which leads to the use of words like "shrill" "nag" and "cackle".)
If Hillary becomes the democratic nominee, the right will lose more and more female votes if they keep using their thinly veiled "bitch" attacks.
The media has determined it will appear less callous to the people to attack a man. Thus, Obama is their guy (for now).

Anonymous said...

All of the candidates' records can be viewed and compared side by side at
On The Hillary and Barack are both well to the left of McCain.

Matt "Max" Van said...

Our Darlings are the people we like, and we generally like people like us. Obama is perfect for the media in the same way that Bush is perfect for the media in the same way that Reagan way perfect for the media. All of them, much like the media, deal in platitudes and emotion. They're not about facts, but perceptions. It's all style, no substance. I don't see any of the candidates, this cycle, as dealing in anything better than Bush. What does it mean if a Woman or a Black man or a senior citizen is made president, if they offer nothing but more of the same? They say that we get more conservative as we age, and maybe that's true, but I think I'm becoming more of an anarchist as I get older, because I'd rather see none than what's being offered.

LouisJacinto said...

I'm not ready to vote for someone who did not see The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show!

godoggo said...

Well, here's a post by Hilzoy from 2006 in which she pointed out that Obama's a wonk with an impressive record of getting stuff done. She's had a lot more to say on this lately, and I recommend her blog. Of course,the hostility to Hillary on the left is largely because of her hawkishness: she notoriously voted for the Iraq war, and more recently took the Bush line that the insane idea of war with Iran was something that should be seriously considered. And...but never mind, it doesn't matter, Obama's gonna win, hahaha, and he'll be a better president than Hillary would've been.

godoggo said...

Ah, what the hell...Regarding the economy under Bill: the president rarely has much to do with the state of the economy during his own presidency, though he can affect long-term trends. The federal reserve is in charge of short-term economic management. Bill, of course benefited from the dot-com bubble, which he had nothing to do with, and, like Reagan before him, he happened to begin his presidency around the bottom of the business cycle and end it around the top. As for his balancing the budget, he managed this because a) the end of the cold war made it politically feasible to make cuts in the krazy military spending that Reagan had run up, b) the dot-com bubble allowed the government to take in an unsual amount of revenue, c)he continued Reagan tradition of cutting social spending. The bubble-based good economy softened the blow of this somewhat, but I think in the long run this had been bad for non-rich people. The last of course is another reason for the left's hostility to Hillary. Considering Bill's "two presidents for the price of one" quote that I've seen around, and the hinting that Hillary's will be a continuation of same, I think that's reasonable. And it's all very nice that she, like Bill, was a "fighter" in terms of the resisting the personal attacks on them, but it would be nice if they'd also shown a little backbone in terms of idealogical attacks (and of course, defending your position includes working with members of the opposing party when they agree with you on specific issues, as Obama has shown himself to be so effective at doing). Of course, she's lately been leaning a little farther left than usual, but I think that just shows that she knows which way the wind is blowing...for the time being.

Didn't mean to write that much. I just get the urge every so often, but this doesn't mean I'm looking to get into an involved back-and-forth discussion. Please understand. Bye.

Steve said...

I think Matt "Max" Van probably comes closest to answering the question you posed, which incidentally, was not whether Obama or Clinton would be a better President but why the mainstream media is obviously supporting Obama. After last night's debate, I think it is clear which candidate they favor. My guess is that they think Obama is more beatable by McCain because some Republicans are more favorably disposed towards Clinton for the same reason liberal Dems dislike her: she is seen as more centrist and hawkish.

Corporate America (and the media they control) are not taking any chances that the Dems might select a candidate who can pull moderate Repub votes so they are using the media to ensure that Obama gets the nod. You couldn't ask for two more different candidates than Obama and McCain, politically speaking and it will mobilize the conservatives to get out the vote and defeat Barack in the general election. Barack will appear as a lightweight next to McCain, who will have the full support of the media once the primaries are over. I'd wager on it.

LouisJacinto said...

Last night it finally hit me that all of the folks in the anchor chairs at MSNBC and CNN are guys ... Oberman, Matthews, Cooper, etc. Sure, they call in some of the women journalists they have in the field for commentary, but these guys really came off biased last night. They blasted Hillary saying her "Change that can be Xeroxed" was canned and speech-written. But when Obama said his "Bus in the ditch" canned and speech-written, the media guys were drooling; I thought they were getting ready to suck his dick (please excuse my language, I never speak this way).

I agree that a woman President would be a sea change. Obama's penis always trumps his race and ethnicity. - Louis Jacinto

godoggo said...

I just realized that I was really responding to the previous post, unlike other people. In this post I think you're just begging the question. I could say it stronger...

Alice Bag said...

The term “begging the question” does not really refer to a question. It is an argument that includes an assumption as the premise of that which is being proposed. If you believe that some part of my question contains an erroneous assumption, please feel free to explain where that error lies.

For those of you who have considered the question openly and without reservation, I want to thank you for the feedback. Some of you brought up some really good points, like the idea of candidates who are media ready and the idea that the media may do an about face as soon as November approaches. I think perhaps what Go Dog Go meant was that I was asking a rhetorical question, or one in which I was not really seeking an answer, which is not the case. I welcome an intelligent exchange of ideas. As for my own views, let me simply say that I do not have an answer to the question or I would not have blogged about it in the first place. I don’t know that Hillary would be more appealing to conservatives than Barack. In fact, I think on some issues she may be to the left of him. And what about all those so-called Obamacans (Republican Obama supporters), how do they factor into this? I do believe that Hillary is more of a threat to the conservatives who own the media and that may be part of the reason for the extreme negativity towards her, but I have an uneasy feeling that isn’t all.

What interests me most right now is trying to understand the opponent’s strategy. This campaign is like a chess game. I want to have an idea of where the conservative forces are planning to move next.

godoggo said...

No, I meant begging the question. False assumptions, stated i.e. "suddenly," or implied i.e. the conspiratorial bullshit, all of which which I could dissect, but it would have to be at length, and too much trouble, as the song goes. I'll mention though that a few years ago I read a pretty good book about where media bias comes from, which I recommend to anybody who's interested Who'll Tell the People, by William Greider. Just making a recommendation.

Anyways, Hillary, despite having no chance of winning the nomination, unless she can somehow conspire to get the support of an extraordinary level of support from superdelegates, is deliberately talking up McCain in her new attacks on Obama, which I figure means she hopes to run against him in 2012. She cares, in other words, about power and nothing else. Just thought I'd swing by and mention that since this is the only blog I read with a pro-Hillary bias.

BTW, if you change the typography of my blog name like that, you mess up the whole god/dog thing.

godoggo said...

Actually, let me rephrase that 1st bit: my problem you asked why x happened and describe very loaded way which isn't even really accurate. But anyway, you know, all the blogs I read touch upon politics now and again, but personally I come here to read about punk rock, which has about as much to do with my political beliefs as the Mr. Rogers songs I'd been listening to a few years previous. It's not that I think I'm so smart - I don't blog about politics for a reason - it's just that I think Hilzoy and Matt and so on and so forth are, to the extent that I rarely have anything to add, whereas posts like this just lead me to the polishing-a-turd dilemma. Sorry, I know that's an obnoxious and trollish thing to say. That's godoggo, I guess.

godoggo said...

Bad typing: "my problem is that you asked why x happened and described it in a very loaded way which isn't even really accurate."

godoggo said...

Sorry, sorry. Look, here's the thing: on those occasions when I've gotten into heavy online debates about any topic, I've inevitably felt very stressed out, making my TOS symptoms flare up, and I've also felt as though I was wasting time, energy, and thought that would be better spent on pretty much anything else. So that's why I tend to avoid even looking at responses to comments.