Friday, September 24, 2004

Enough Already

Daily Reality Check
Enough Already
By Mike Lux
American Family Voices

As part of our ongoing effort to keep you fully informed of current political events and their consequences, The Daily Reality Check is featuring a weekly political analysis column by political strategist Mike Lux that will appear each Friday.
I do my best not to get frustrated with the way the media covers the presidential campaign, because otherwise I'd be upset most of the time. Every once in a while I am pushed to the edge and have to rail about it. Here are my top current examples:
The forged document controversy - Karl Rove knew that a storm was about to break about George Bush and the National Guard. He knew about the Ben Barnes story. He knew about the Texans for Truth ad that was about to air. He knew that stories were coming out about Bush signing a pledge to report to the National Guard out in Boston, a pledge Bush didn't keep.
One of the reasons that the Rove scenario makes sense, is that this is exactly what Karl Rove does when his candidate is in trouble. In a Texas gubernatorial campaign, he had a bug planted in his own campaign office and then "discovered" it right before a big debate. In the 2000 presidential campaign, an aide loyal to Rove suddenly sent a tape of Bush preparing for the first debate to a member of the Gore debate team. Both times there was a big flap about whether the other side was involved in dirty tricks.
I think that Rove had this forgery leaked to CBS, because he knew exactly what would happen: the media, instead of focusing on the absolutely undisputed things that were documented about Bush and the National Guard, they are now distracted by the "is the document real or fake" story. Rather than focusing on the legitimate questions about George Bush, people are focused on whether the print was done by a typewriter or word processor, and was Dan Rather duped.
The only reporter I've seen mention the Rove scenario so far has called it Democratic paranoia. But sometimes, even though you're paranoid, they're still out to get you. I can't prove that Rove did this, but it sure does fit his M.O. And whether he did it or not, the media is being played by the Republicans who are getting them to spend an absurd amount of time over one disputed document when there are tons of other undisputed facts that prove Bush slid by without fulfilling his responsibilities in the Texan Air National Guard.
The campaign shake up - How many different times are we going to see Kerry campaign shake up stories. To us inside political junkies, who actually know some of the players, this story was interesting the first time we saw it, with maybe the first follow up story carrying a little bit of interest as well. But this has been going on for three weeks now. Enough already.
Memo to my reporter friends: nobody cares anymore except you and the mothers of the staffers whose names you mentioned. Maybe if you actually covered the campaign itself, as opposed to who is up and who is down, people might start reading your stories again.
There is a reason Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, The Onion and other media outlets that make fun of mainstream journalists have found such an avid audience. There's a reason that polls consistently show such a steep decline in the favorability ratings of journalists.
If journalists would focus on real issues instead of insider horse races, and not allow themselves to constantly get played and distracted by operatives who know how to pull the strings, people in this country would have more respect for journalism. This election is about the most important issues our democracy has ever faced: war and peace in an era of the threat of mass terrorism, a looming federal budget crisis of historic proportions, fundamental questions about our civil liberties, the threat of global warming wreaking massive havoc with our environment, major economic challenges in the face of a jobless recovery. My plea to the people who run mainstream journalism in this country: at least from time to time, would you mind actually covering the campaign in light of the stakes in this election?