Presence of malice: Media poison our politics

The media are making politics unlivable. Plain and simple.


What does it say that the most popular governor in America was nominated to be vice president -- and by the time the national media were done with her, her negatives were higher than her positives?

We think that says more about the media than Sarah Palin.

Indeed, they're not done with her. Now they're making a fuss over the fact that the Republican National Committee bought her family clothes for the campaign. Good grief.

It's become legendary this year that the media are in the tank for Barack Obama. One commentator, Chris Matthews, even famously said he got a thrill running up his leg listening to Obama.

But it's not just anecdotally observable: A new Project for Excellence in Journalism study finds that 57 percent of the stories about Sen. John McCain have been negative since the two conventions, only 14 percent positive. Obama's coverage has been 36 percent positive, 29 percent negative.

Not only have the media turned the nation's most popular governor -- with an 80-percent approval rating -- into a hated woman in some quarters, but they've also managed to relentlessly attack a war hero and a man who even Democratic leaders praised at their own convention.

Democrats praised John McCain for good reason: He is one of the last of America's statesmen. Voting records show McCain is one of the least partisan members of the U.S. Senate.

In contrast, Barack Obama is one of the most partisan. You never hear that, though.

But never mind the partisan bias of the media. Just look at what they're doing to good people who seek to serve us in public life.

In an interview with the hostile Matthews recently, U.S. Rep. Michelle Bachman suggested Obama may have anti-American views. She says she misspoke, parroting a term Matthews had repeatedly used. Regardless, she's been viciously attacked since then, including having her house vandalized.

It's not just public officials that get in the media's crosshairs, either: Ohio's "Joe the plumber" became the target of media attacks simply for asking Obama a tough question about his tax-and-spend policies.

The message: You don't ask Barack Obama a tough question. Lord knows the media don't.

And as unforgiving as they've been about Bachman's faux pas, they're awfully forgiving of themselves -- at least when it makes a conservative look bad. CNN reporter Drew Griffin confronted Sarah Palin with the "news" that a conservative author in National Review had written that he didn't know if Palin was -- well, a string of unflattering adjectives.

Problem is, the CNN reporter took the quote completely out of context and gave it an entirely different meaning: The magazine article was criticizing the media, not Palin, for trying to make her seem all those things .

The New York Times, which tried to manufacture a nonexistent scandal involving John McCain earlier this year, even attacked his wife, Cindy, in a recent smear piece against a woman whose chief offense has been to care for and even adopt impoverished children around the world. She is a first-class lady and ambassador, and the media only attack her for it.

Apparently, extremism in the defense of liberalism is not a vice as far as the national media are concerned.

You don't see much media angst, for example, about Democrat Rep. John Murtha calling his western Pennsylvania constituents first "racists" then "rednecks." And most media outlets have forgiven and forgotten Obama's quote about Pennsylvanians who cling to their guns and religion out of fear and loathing of people who don't look like them.

But as selective as the media's attacks have been, the more important point is that they're attacking. Relentlessly. And they're creating a toxic environment in public service that would make anyone question getting into it.

How sad -- not just for the good people with the targets on their backs, but for the country's future.



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