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Palin Wows Media, Voters Score Debate For Biden

3 October 2008
VP Debate

VP Debate

What’s wrong with the media?  They still don’t get it as to what’s going on out here in the real world.

For the second debate in a row the talking heads scored a victory for the Republican candidate while the polls of everyday voters, mostly independents, awarded the win decidedly to the Democrat.  Why does this keep going on? There are several possible explanations, things this column has posited before.  The media has a vested interest in the need for ratings for their political shows to keep the race tight.  Maybe it’s that.  The media judges these debates like a beauty contest.  Maybe it’s that.  The so-called biased left-wing media is not so left-wing after all.  Maybe it’s that.  Who knows?  Only those who manipulate media coverage of this presidential election know the true answer to this question.

There is little doubt that the media had set the bar so ridiculously low for Sarah Palin that it would have been hard for her to fall below expectations.  Granted, the evidence presented day by day from the Katie Couric interview made a strong case for low expectations.  But the media also bought into the McCain campaign’s “delicate, fragile flower” storyline about Governor Palin.  They totally overlooked her old Alaska nickname, Sara Barracuda.  Let’s face it, the little lady left a trail of skilled politicians in her wake as she steamed from tiny Wasilla, Alaska, to the statehouse.  That wake ran through several debate performances where she did just fine.

Mika Brzezinski

Mika Brzezinski

So, to bolster their pre-determined view of Governor Palin, the TV news media made much of her “skilled” performance last night.  But on Morning Joe today the sometimes vapid-sounding Mika Brzezinski noted that Palin’s answers were rehearsed and canned.  But no one, including Morning Joe himself, saw anything wrong with her repeatedly brushing aside the questions she didn’t like and hammering out statements on topics that she chose to talk about.  I must also express my disappointment with Gwen Ifill for allowing this to happen and not asking the follow-up questions that would have shown Palin’s real lack of depth which the McCain handlers have worked so hard to conceal during her debate prep.

Gwen Ifill

Gwen Ifill

Last night on CNN the coverage of a group of “persuadable” voters in Ohio gave real insight into what “regular Joe” out here in America thought of the debate.  By a wide margin they gave the debate to Joe Biden.  A few admitted that the debate had helped them make up their minds, thus disqualifying themselves from the group in the next two debates.  Of those who committed to a candidate as a result of last night’s debate, an overwhelming majority named Obama as their choice.  The other fascinating aspect of this coverage was the group’s real-time reaction to the debate by the use of dials which recorded their favorable or unfavorable reactions to what the candidates were saying.  Two things jumped right out at me.  While the Republican base seems enthralled by Palin’s folksy persona, the survey group almost unanimously turned their dials to “unfavorable” when Palin put on the “folk charm.”

Another section of the group’s track reflected how they felt about Biden’s view of getting out of Iraq, which caused the dials to go up, up, up, and Palin’s “white flag of surrender” remark which immediately triggered the group to start dialing into negative territory.  This indicates that John McCain and the Republicans just don’t get it about the war, just like they don’t get it about the economy.

Time and time again Palin stuck to the Bush/McCain plan of lowering taxes on the rich and powerful as a stimulus for the floundering economy.  The media may think that this election is hinging on personalities, but the evidence in post-debate poll after post-debate poll shows that the American people are listening very carefully this time to what the two tickets offer in the way of relief from the stagnant economy with which we out here in the real world have been living for some time.  People who have lost their jobs and homes or are on the verge of that just don’t believe the Bush/McCain plan has worked for them up to this point and aren’t willing to sign on for another four years.  Those of us who notice the price of everything at the Wal-Mart rising every time we go in are no longer listening to the economic happy talk of those who would say the fundamentals of the economy are sound.

Down here in Texas we have a saying: Bullshit talks, money walks.  What most of us are seeing out here are a bunch of Republicans in the Administration who are talking a bunch of bullshit about how good things are while our money is walking away.  We also see a media that simply delivers the message that the Republicans and those they serve want us to hear.  We are ready for what John McCain promised when he began this campaign: straight talk.  We’re not seeing it from him or Governor Palin and haven’t seen it for a long time from the Administration.

Slip, slipping away

Out here, even in Texas, much to the fears of Republicans here, people are ready for a change.  The polls are shifting in that direction, and that slippage doesn’t favor McCain.  He knows it and the media know it.  It would be refreshing for the media to shift its slant on this election toward the people and express a little interest in the reawakening of the American voter instead of their fascination with the “little lady from Alaska.”

We’re crying for change out here, and the media is still talking lipstick.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. 3 October 2008 12:02 pm

    What media are you watching that gave the win to Palin? Everything I’ve been watching and reading called it for Biden, or admitted that Palin did well enough to keep the ticket’s reputation intact. Hopefully, once everyone gets over the shock of Palin being apparently competent, we’ll be able to get back to the primary candidates and their policies.

    I also very much enjoyed CNN’s little group of undecided voters. Did you see when she asked how many people thought Obama would win? It was kind of hilarious to see almost everyone raise their hands, even though half of them weren’t going to vote that way.

  2. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    3 October 2008 2:09 pm

    @Saysalice

    I’ve been watching the media talking heads for two days now talking about Palin, Palin, Palin, and as an aside they mention that Joe Biden did very well. While nobody says that Sarah Get Your Pitchfork turned things around for McCain, they seem to me to be giving her a lot more credit than she deserves for her high-school quality performance.

    Thanks for reminding my readers and I of the reaction of the focus group to Soledad O’Brien’s question as to who they thought would win. It was a priceless moment, but like you I find it strange that people who think Obama will win are still having so much trouble deciding in his favor.

    Thanks for you comment. I look forward to hearing from you again.

  3. soulaz permalink
    3 October 2008 2:43 pm

    I read your blog every day, and have not yet commented. Primarily because I have not been able to come up with anything more fascinating than, “You are SO right!” to add to the conversation. It’s long past the time for me to say thank you to you, for such well-written and informative blog posts. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Like you, I live in a red state. The great state of Arizona, home to one of the most shameful presidential candidates I have seen in a long time. While I am resigned to the fact that Obama will not win here, I am encouraged by the level of support that he has here, in McCain’s home state. Clearly, we are beginning to see an awakening in the American people. We have been lied to, and manipulated by Republican policies that are driving us all into the poorhouse, for far too long.

    Why is the media downplaying this fundamental shift? I have been thinking about this a lot, and I believe it comes down to the self-serving nature of the business. Early on, when the media seemed to be engaging in a love affair with Obama, the Republicans cried foul. They claimed Obama was not a viable candidate, but merely a celebrity. With the possible exception of Fox News, most mainstream media outlets truly want to be viewed as unbiased in their reporting. So, they pulled back, manipulated by the Republican party, just as we all have been for so many years.

    If the media were to report on the campaign based on specific issues as opposed to personality traits, they would be forced back into that love affair with Obama. They would only be able to honestly report to America, that McCain plans to continue on the disastrous path the Bush administration has been leading us on, and that Obama has clearly defined ideas and plans to lead us on to a new path.

    That type of coverage would paint a very different picture, and would not encourage viewers to tune in, on the edge of their seats, to see who our next president might be. The media needs a close race for ratings, pure and simple. That’s my simplistic take on it.

    Oh, and for the record . . . Joe Biden was exceptional last night, and Sarah Palin was not.

  4. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    4 October 2008 11:59 am

    @Soulaz

    Thanks for your daily support. When I started this, I wasn’t sure anybody would actually be interested. I’s lonely being blue in a red state, but we are little by little finding each other, and perhaps the long nightmare that we have been living will finally end when more and more of our fellow sufferers awaken from their FOX NOISE induced slumber.

    When we moved from Houston out here to the country the local cable provider only offered FOX NOISE Channel and CNN Headline News. Coming from the city, I was amazed; but the longer I live out here and listen to my neighbors the more I get it. In too many rural areas FOX NOISE Channel has seized control of the market, blocking any other voices out. Thankfully, Mrs. Jack, My tech-savvy savior, immediately canceled the cable service and got us DirecTV. I’ve been waiting for a chance to put that out there, so thanks for your comment which spurred me to do so.

    Feel free to comment more often. Finally, our voices are being heard.

  5. 4 October 2008 6:28 pm

    Great post Jack. I see that my friend Soulaz has been enjoying your posts as much as I am.

    Now that the cat is out of the bag, and the McPalin Campaign as admitted that for the next “30” days they will be attacking Obama 110% of the time, I am wondering how the media will handle this.

    They are going into this phase knowing that McShame will be ignoring the issues and simply going for blood. But will they step up to the plate and call him on this? They will play the game that they think they are supposed to play by being unbiased and reporting the news as they see it. The sad thing is that the mainstream media is no longer the source that many people go to for the real news. I was reading something on the Huffington Post today that proclaimed that “The Daily Show” is just as much a real media outlet as CNN or MSNBC. For me, the MSM is the second place I go after reading my favorite blogs.

    I hope that the media will be attentive to what the public is looking for, which is the truth plain and simple.

  6. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    5 October 2008 12:16 pm

    @Willpen

    Thanks for the heads up. I am posting a blog today on this very topic. I have been hearing for some time that “The Daily Show” has grown to be a greater and greater source for political news. As much as this is troubling on one level, it is also encouraging on another. The young demographic of that show, I feel, has helped drive up participation of young people in this election. I also think it is important sometimes for us to laugh at ourselves and those who “rule” or “would rule” us. And I think “The Daily Show,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “The Colbert Report” all serve a purpose in our political dialogue. They may seem silly sometimes, but they also have done a great job of pointing out how silly Sarah Palin is. That’s got to be good for something.

  7. 18 October 2008 9:23 am

    Do also note that while most news media, liberals, democrats had wrongfully belittled Sarah Palin’s association with Pentecostal Christianity, this actually next gave her more publicity, exposure and better still even next more support from many Christians. Not what the demons had expected or hope for for sure. The bashing of her religion was clearly a great mistake on their parts. Obama wishes he got so much coverage now as well..
    http://anyonecare.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/many-jump-to-conclusions-make-opinions-before-hearing-all-of-the-facts/

  8. Left-Eyed Jack permalink*
    18 October 2008 11:41 am

    @Thenonconformer

    I will concede your point about the news media giving Governor Palin lavish over-coverage on the McCain campaign’s limited conditions. However, I don’t think that the opinions of those who find her religious right-wing leanings troubling after all that we have been through with our current religious right-wingnut President spurred the media to a greater level of coverage.

    Further, your labeling of those who do not embrace Governor Palin’s narrow religious views as demons tells me a great deal more about you than her. This veteran served his country with the intention of protecting all of our rights, and that includes freedom of religion. While the religious right trots that out a lot, they are definitely against it. They have a very strong agenda aimed at imposing their religious beliefs on the rest of us by enactment of laws to that effect.

    As for Obama’s coverage,thanks to McCain and Palin’s ridiculous attempts to tie him to terrorists, he gets more than enough coverage. Maybe you should watch something other than FOX PROPAGANDA CHANNEL.

    Sorry, Nonconformer, you sound like a right-wing conformist to me.

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