Home > "Liberal" Media, Election 2012 > The Anti-Obama Media Tilt Begins

The Anti-Obama Media Tilt Begins

June 9th, 2011

In elections over the past twenty years or so, the media has rather noticeably leaned to the right. It forgives the right-wing candidate egregious faults and fallacies, and focuses disproportionately on those of the left-wing candidate.

In 2000, Gore’s Internet quote (which he never made) and his alleged “lies” (such as precisely which of many forest fires he had visited the scenes of with exactly which people) were hyped up as indicative of Gore’s “problem with the truth,” but far more serious issues and lies on the Bush side, including his drunk driving conviction, his record on education in Texas, his past with drugs, and much more, were given short shrift. Most of the tilt, however, was in smaller things–the kinds of photos the press chose to use, the polls they chose to quote, the specific stories they paid attention to. It added up.

This propensity showed up in 2004 as well (one small example: attention was given to the Swift-boaters, but not to Bush’s clearly faked security alerts), but flared significantly in 2008. McCain was allowed to duck and quickly forget all kinds of lies, flip-flops, and scandals, while Obama was criticized in the media for stuff that was far more tame, or even not true.

Case in point: On offshore drilling, McCain did a complete 180 within days, but the media more or less left him alone for that. Obama, meanwhile, was charged as being a flip-flopper when he did not change his policy or goals, but said he might accept a compromise with Congress on the issue. Earlier, McCain had even violated campaign finance laws but was given a bye from the media–while the press sounded huge alarms when Obama made the completely legal move of foregoing public financing of his campaign.

I laid it out at the time:

Think of it this way: what if Obama were the Republican and McCain were the Democrat? What if the Republicans had a youthful, charismatic, African-American candidate who was a great orator, and the Democrats were running a septuagenarian fuddy-duddy with a weird laugh and a so-so-speaking style? What if the Republican was outspending the Democrat four-to-one in advertising? What if the Republican was the one with consistent policies and the Democrat had flip-flopped on almost every issue? What if the Republican promised bigger tax cuts to the middle class, and the Democrat’s proposals were the ones promising to explode the deficit more? What if the Republican had a solid if not-so-exciting running mate while the Democrat chose a lightweight, far-left whacko? What if the Republican had a solid campaign organization running a competent 50-state policy while the Democrat’s campaign was in disarray? What if the Republican was standing tall while the Democrat was lying left and right and running a pathetic smear campaign?

Take all that, and then add the idea that the election comes after an 8-year Democratic presidency mired in war, corruption, and policy disaster ending with the biggest economic downturn in generations, and the Democrat was running on essentially the same policies as his predecessor?

I mean, seriously: are you freaking kidding me? The Republican would be ahead by huge margins. A landslide would be confidently predicted. There would simply be no question.

As I then pointed out, there were no end to the times you saw McCain do something stupid or repellent, and could say, “if Obama had done that, he’d be toast.” The media didn’t really care. They had their narrative, and were sticking to it. Yes, they do want an election to be more of a horse race than a blow-out–though when put to the test, I have no trouble believing they’d be OK with the Republican having a comfortable lead, and would not bother tilting back the other way to make it closer.

Well, it was bound to start sometime for 2012, and it has now. The Washington Post and ABC released a poll which showed Romney ahead of Obama, 49% to 46%–within the margin of error. Romney ahead, they declare; Obama has “lost his bounce,” the headlines shout. Do a Google News search, and about 500 stories come up.

Quinnipiac releases a poll which shows Obama ahead by six points, 47% to 41%, but only a few dozen sources in Google News carry it. The most prominent is the L.A. Times. Guess how they cover it? The headline: “Mitt Romney more competitive with Obama in poll, but religion remains a sticking point.” That’s the headline. “Mitt Romney More Competitive with Obama,” and the reason he’s not doing better is because of religious bigotry.

Worse, despite being an article about the Quinnipiac poll, it doesn’t mention that Obama leads Romney by 6 points until the tenth paragraph. Almost as an afterthought or something. People reading the article might even come away with the impression that Romney was ahead, especially if they stopped reading about half-way.

Yeah, no tilting here.

This is just the beginning. Be prepared for a long road cluttered with crap like this.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, Election 2012 Tags: by
  1. matthew
    June 10th, 2011 at 00:07 | #1

    Like, hate, or love, Obama…the economy will cast the vote. All bets off it the republicans decide to run an idiot. But my take is they will probably pick one of the luke warm ( they are all really lukewarm) candidates. Without a strong or improving economy , Obama loses. His lofty language cant put the lipstick on the pig. Obama’s best hope is some teabag nut case. (no pun intended LOL)

    Take me–I have no dog in this hunt as I live in japan–and watch this all from far, far away. But if I was living in the states, voting for Obama again would be a “holding my nose cause it stinks” vote.

    The guy had a chance to change the world and he messed it up by hiring wall street cronies–among others.

    In the history books of the year 2110 they will point to Bush and Obama.

    In 2008 America voted for a chance to change the world and country. With his soaring rhetoric they thought they had found the man.

    But, alas………..

  2. Tim Kane
    June 10th, 2011 at 00:51 | #2


    I’m agreeing with you Matthew.

    The economy is locked in now, and it’s quite evident that Obama made the wrong choices. It’s only mildly surprising. He’s a good man, perhaps even a great man, but only a good President when great was needed.

    The man knew absolutely nothing about economics, so he made his choices in economics, based upon the economic advice that his Wall Street retainers sent him.

    A remedial knowledge of economics (perhaps my level) would have told him that the stimulus had to be north of $2 trillion, at least 3 times greater than the one he implemented, and perhaps four times greater than the one he implemented.

    South Korea implemented a four year stimulus that was 25% of GNP. They enjoyed growth in 2009, and significant growth in 2010. Over a year ago in South Korea the media was already talking about the Great Recession as if it was ancient history. (Full disclosure, at the worst of the recession, S. Korea also allowed their currency to lose 30% of its value, creating added stimulus).

    A stimulus of less than $1 trillion was just not serious. We got a stimulus of $700 billion. Nearly half of that in tax cuts, the very median that created the imbalances in the economy. The spending that remained barely covered the contraction in Government spending that occurred at the state and local levels (and is still on going). It’s a wonder things aren’t actually worse than they are (perhaps QEII helped some here).

    As far as I can tell, the man still knows absolutely nothing about economics. He’s great in all areas except the one area he needs to be great in: economics. In that area he wears a dunce cap. (and in fairness, it hasn’t been all bad, he did save the auto industry, and the financial markets did stabilize, meaning he did take care of his constituents, but apparently Main Street, Middle America isn’t one of his constituents).

    If things get any worse, people are going to become desperate. They could vote for absolutely anything. This could be the year of where a perennial runner like Dennis Kucinich finally gets traction. Or imagine what might happen if things are still as bad as they are now, and the Green Party gets a heavy weight like Howard Dean or (suddenly progressive) Hillary Clinton to head their ticket.

    We voted for change in 2008. Change in the economy meant going from supply side bias to demand side bias. Since there is only supply and demand, what else could there be? As far as I’m concern, Obama is like all other politicians. He’s a liar. We got a third term of the Bush presidency, not the change we were promised.

  3. Luis
    June 10th, 2011 at 02:02 | #3


    My point really is that the media shows a clear bias against Democratic candidates, and this really can have an effect on elections. I think my example of McCain and Obama was apt in this–while McCain lost, he lost by a far closer margin than he should have. As a candidate, the man was a wreck–a mass of flip-flops, disastrous stunts, and mismanaged events, he broke the law, sold out to virtually every special interest group on the right, ran a sleazy attack-based campaign that fell just short of racist and compelled his listeners to shout death threats against his opponent, and–let’s face it–was a septuagenarian cancer survivor with a past of financial malfeasance and adultery. One who promised to follow the same policies that led us into two major land wars in Asia (he even promised to start a third) and led the economy into the gutter.

    Seriously, the man should have lost by double digits at minimum. He did lose by 7%, a medium-sized landslide, but not nearly enough. The core Republicans and Obama’s race cannot explain that off–but one can recognize that the media, while not in love with the man, let him get away with the vast majority of his crap, refusing to identify his worst transgressions.

    This actually did let off a little at one point: when he chose Palin. It seemed like the media, which had been going along with him all that time, felt that he had gone too far, as if they started saying, “hey, we’re happy to carry your water, but don’t make us look like complete idiots here.” Had Palin not been chosen, had it been anyone halfway serious instead, I think McCain would have come a hell of a lot closer to winning. but I don’t think that would have been because Palin lost him respect with the voters as much as it would have been due to the media sticking by him more strongly.

    The media tilt was unquestionably present, and I feel it had a definite effect–and save for the Palin choice, it might even have brought him close enough to be a real challenge. The media tilt is not everything, but in an otherwise close race, I think it can be a deciding factor. It absolutely was with Bush and Gore in 2000, it was probably to a lesser degree but nonetheless a significant effect in 2004, and it probably gave McCain at least 3-5% more than he should have gotten in 2008.

    And that’s why it will be vital in this election: like both of you point out above, Obama will be in trouble this time because of the economy, and it will be a closer race. All the reason why media bias like we are already seeing could make the whole difference.

  4. Troy
    June 10th, 2011 at 08:35 | #4

    matthew :
    The guy had a chance to change the world and he messed it up by hiring wall street cronies–among others.

    Thing is, there is no real fix. If he had brought in bomb-throwing Marxists he’d be blamed for that, since there is no real fix. Things are just going to continue getting worse.

    It is true that everyone Obama hired in the econ team have left, including (recently) Luis’ favorite guy Goolsbee (who I thought was something of an idiot because he didn’t see the housing bubble crash coming at all).

    To actually fix things is going to require the Republicans coming on board wrt painful tax raises, military spending cuts, single payer healthcare, energy taxes to get the country off of imported oil, European-style welfare to essentially bribe the lower class not to commit crime, destroying current debt loads via wage inflation or outright forgiveness, etc etc.

    Thus there is no real fix.

    With his soaring rhetoric they thought they had found the man.

    The sins of 1995-2008 are simply too great for rhetoric to solve.

    I don’t know if Obama got blindsided by the reality of the situation, but I knew in 2008 that things were completely and totally f-ed and everything was going to go to hell.

    They arrested the crash but it’s all hanging by a string, really.

    My previous comments here have gone into the actual details.

  5. Troy
    June 10th, 2011 at 08:44 | #5

    Obama is like all other politicians. He’s a liar. We got a third term of the Bush presidency, not the change we were promised.

    Obama’s central weakness is that he was a total nobody ten years ago.

    The average length of service in the Senate was 12.8 years in 2008, now it’s 13.4.

    The Senate has its own prerogatives, foremost of which is getting reelected.

    Obama and the centrist side of the party had control of the House, but not of the Senate.

    The realities of how broken our government and economy is will become clearer as things devolve.

    Note that the tea party took out some good liberals like Feingold — Senators in conservative states aren’t going to be going along with Obama at all now.

    June 12th, 2011 at 21:22 | #6

    I would say that there is a fix -but not a quick fix.

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