Confident? Arrogant? — Or Is That Black Guy Being Cocky?
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MEDIA? Really! What is wrong with the media? It started yesterday, July 29, 2008, on Morning Joe and continued non-stop through the day on MSNBC. The question of the day dealt with whether or not Barack Obama is just too arrogant. The overwhelming verdict delivered by the arrogant media was: yes, he is.
Is the media arrogant? Let’s take a look. We are told by them every day that “this election is about Barack Obama.” Yet poll after poll indicates that for the unwashed masses out here in the real world this election is about the economy. Now, while the media does inject this little nugget into the conversation when they talk specifically about a poll that shows this – and every single one does — they quickly return the discussion back to “Do you know what so-and-so said?”
In a year when very real bread-and-butter issues are hitting the American people hard, the media has chosen to make the election about personalities. How Miss America! In what appeared to be a year of refreshing debates by the candidates about issues, the media has chosen to cover the election as though it were for the title of Miss Congeniality. While both candidates go out daily and put forth their messages on the issues, those statements are lost in the clutter and clatter of a media obsessed — like a group of old ladies gossiping across the backyard fence about people they think are shady neighbors. I think the greatest democracy in the world deserves better from its press.
Yesterday as the programs changed through the hours on MSNBC, the question of the day continued to deal endlessly with Obama’s presumptuousness to tell a group of Democrats at a fundraiser that the odds were good that he would win in November. The words “arrogant” and “cocky” were bandied about with abandon. By the time Hardball with Chris Matthews came on – this day without Chris Matthews – guest host Mike Barnicle managed to play the tape of said remarks at least once in every segment except the “Sideshow” segment and asked every guest to comment on Obama’s “perceived” arrogance.
Finally, Barnicle’s guest Del Waters with Ebony/Jet came to the rescue of the besieged Senator Obama. Waters pointed out that it has long been felt in the black community that what is perceived as confidence in a white man is labeled as arrogant or cocky in a black man. As an old white man in the South I saw a great truth in what Mr. Waters opined. I have seen this attitude firsthand. The word “uppity” comes to mind. Chrystia Freeland of the Financial Times voiced her agreement with that view, while Richard Cohen of the Washington Post whose article had started the firestorm sat sheepishly with his eyes turned downward and allowed that perhaps that could be true. I might add that Hillary Clinton was attacked much the same way by the media as sounding shrill when she exuded confidence and conviction.
By the end of Race for the White House with David Gregory I did what I always do at 6:00 p.m. on weekdays: give my high blood pressure a break by turning my attention away from politics. Ahh!
But this morning as I rose to watch Morning Joe I was greeted with a new wrinkle in the story. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post was reporting that a third-hand – that’s somebody told somebody who told me – report had come to him that the Senator from Illinois had told his Democratic congressional colleagues, “I am the one the world has been waiting for.” Well! You can just imagine the buzz this caused. Now, the word “messianic” was being linked with Obama. Now “in fairness” it was pointed out that this quote might not even have happened, but it didn’t keep Joe Scarborough, Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell from weighing in on its implications and “truthiness” and treating the whole thing as an “I knew it all along” moment.
Well, the good news is that by 10:00 a.m. Eastern/9:00 a.m. Central, after everyone had gone to work but us old retired people, MSNBC cleared things up by reporting that the whole kafuffle was a big mistake due to the fact that the comments attributed to Barack Obama were prefaced by duly-humble language asserting that there were those who saw hope in his candidacy.
Oh, well, what’s a Liberal to do? Fight back: that’s what! Hang in there good fellows and on to November!