Front-runner unplugged: Media Infatuation with him backfires

Boston Herald; by Michael Graham; September 9, 2008

I have one piece of advice for the struggling Obama campaign:

Fire MSNBC. They’re killing your campaign.

By all accounts the Democrats had a successful national convention in Denver. Their nominee’s speech at the ObamaDome was well received. At one point last week, Sen. Barack Obama had an 8-point lead in the polls.

Today, he’s losing by 4. If you only count likely voters, Obama is down by 10. And he has his fawning friends in the media to thank for it.

The media, of course, doesn’t get it. According to their narrative, Obama was swamped by Hurricane Sarah. Gov. Palin is a political typhoon destroying all in her wake, and mere media mortals can only tremble in awe before her mighty wrath!

Please. Palin may be able to take down a rabid moose at 100 yards with a hockey puck, but she isn’t killing the Obama campaign.

To paraphrase James Carville, “It’s the media, stupid.”

The national media are dominated by enthusiastic Obama supporters desperate to see Obama the Enlightened win the White House, heal our souls, reset our thermostats and shut down the Fox News Channel.

And that’s precisely how their coverage of Palin comes across: desperate.

The media has thrown every imaginable charge at Palin, from banning books to cheating her way to the much-coveted title of Miss Wasilla. Along the way, media outlets like The New York Times [NYT], MSNBC and The Boston Globe-Democrat have gotten story after story just plain wrong.

Palin does not support teaching creationism in science class.

She didn’t fire the Wasilla librarian for not banning books that Palin didn’t like.

As governor she signed budget increases – not cuts – for programs targeting teen pregnancy and special-needs children.

And on and on – so many false and silly stories that entire Web sites have been established just to correct them.

And yet the misreporting continues.

That’s bad for Obama because these errors and rumors make it tougher for his campaign to take on the legitimate issues of ideology and experience. It’s hard to make charges about Palin’s tax policy as a mayor stick when cable talk show kooks are screaming about rumors she killed and ate an Inuit as part of a radical Pentecostal religious ceremony.

What’s worse for Obama is how this is affecting his support among women.

I still don’t believe that true Hillary Clinton supporters will back the McCain/Palin ticket. Liberal feminists aren’t going to turn into home-school hockey moms because there’s a girl on the GOP team. But something is up.

One week ago, Obama had a 14-point lead among women in the Rasmussen survey. Yesterday, it was down to 3 percent. Women are watching what’s happening to this confident and authentic female leader, and they don’t like it.

It’s a shame, too, because Obama’s the one person who hit the right note when Palinpalooza began. He was respectful of her and (especially) her family, while insisting he still thinks she’s the wrong choice.

The mainstream media – those notorious lovers of nuance – just can’t pull it off. Their outrage at the very existence of Sarah Palin is palpable. “How dare she even be on the ticket,” they cry. “She’s never been on ‘Meet the Press!’ ”

The harder the media work to elect Obama, the lower his poll numbers go.

There is one bright spot for Obama. In a final shudder of journalist integrity, NBC has kicked Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews out of the anchor chairs for the rest of the campaign.

But is it enough? Katie and Charlie and Wolfie and the gang are still working hard every day to remind typical Americans that Barack is the media’s favorite candidate.

If they keep it up, he’ll be lucky to carry Illinois.

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