NOTE: Despite the following criticism of mainstream media’s coverage of the presidential candidates, I’ll be watching the main CNN Republican debate, featuring the top 11 contenders: broadcast live tonight, 8 p.m. EST, from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. I hope you — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — will be ‘there’ too. (An earlier debate among four Republicans who did not qualify for the main stage will be broadcast at 6 p.m. EST. Both debates will also be live-streamed for free on CNN’s website.)
On one hand, I’m more engaged in this 2016 presidential campaign than any other in nearly 25 years, when Bill Clinton (D) defeated George H. W. Bush (R) and Ross Perot (I). On the other hand, I’m exhausted from reading countless political articles and listening to a variety of pundits about the latest polls. Thank God … Only another 10 months of this carnival “fun” house, before the Republican and Democratic Parties hold their national conventions and nominate their candidates.
Who will it be? Donald Trump vs Bernie Sanders? The Donald vs Hillary? Ben Carson vs Joe Biden? Could it be an all-women matchup: Carly vs Hillary? Or, maybe another Bush vs Clinton showdown? Hard to say … I only hope we’ll have a larger voter turnout than past elections. Did you know that U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries?
Ay yi yi … My head hurts! Seriously, I’ve been stressing about this post since the last debate in August; I was convinced I would be profiling Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), who barely made the cut for the main stage and who — I thought — was the most impressive of the bunch. He had become my new favorite since Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) had inexplicably gone AWOL after announcing his candidacy in April. Then, my fellow Buckeyes (I’m pretty sure, mostly Democrats) decided an intervention of sorts was necessary, and I began receiving comments and private messages via Facebook about how awful Kasich is to teachers. (Which disappoints me, and I’ll definitely devote some due diligence to that issue.)
Ay yi yi … I needed a break! So, I designed a new blog theme around music — to soothe my soul — and I tuned out the talking heads, who until just recently couldn’t kiss Trump’s butt enough. Finally, the corporate media has gotten the message that the electorate is fed up with their biased opinions as much as they are with Washington’s insiders’ game. FINALLY, they’re giving — grudgingly, I might add — Independent Vermont Senator Sanders (D) some well-deserved attention, after the most recent New Hampshire poll shows him leading Hillary by 7 points.
Grudgingly? Yes, because Sanders doesn’t schmooze and entertain the primetime pundits like Reality TV star/flashy billionaire Trump does. Sanders has criticized mainstream media’s tactics, also Sanders — like all other candidates besides Trump — hasn’t been able to deliver what corporate media most desires: high Nielsen ratings that translate into more advertising dollars. Sanders has no more respect for corporate media than he does for the “top one-tenth of 1 percent” he’s gunning for. Sanders has served in Congress for nearly 25 years and wants to talk about issues that are important to the American electorate, whereas the media wants him to criticize his rival, Hillary. Oh yeah, I’d be testy too.
So, what about Hillary? Specifically, the media’s coverage of her unsecured emails and their discussions about her likability. This is what got me going on this post, my “rage” against the boob tube’s talking heads. And in a related matter, what about Trump’s Carly Fiorina “look at that face” comment?
Bear with me, friends … I promise this will all make sense before I place my last punctuation mark.
FIRST: I’ve never been in Hillary’s camp; I’ve often stated, and I even wrote, that I won’t vote for her just because she’s a woman. (But yeah, I believe it’s high time we elect a woman to be president, and if Hillary wins, I believe she’ll be a good one. Although, she’ll end up having as rough a time with the press as Obama has. Partly because he’s our first African-American president, and she — if she wins — would be our first female president. There’s a lot of pressure and bright lights on the “firsts.” I chalk it up to human nature. Also, Obama does not have the “schmooze appeal,” the likability of a Bill Clinton. For that matter, neither does Hillary.)
I never voted for Bill Clinton. “Hmmm,” you might wonder, “So, she’s a Republican?” (Well, I didn’t vote for Bush or Perot either; I wrote in Jerry Brown. What?! Who?!) Considering my earlier comments about Kasich and Paul (who I feel a certain kinship with because I grew up in southern Ohio), it would be fair judgment on your part to think I’m a Republican. However, leading up to the 1992 election, “my man” was Brown, current Governor of California (D). Upon re-aquainting myself with Brown (via that Wikipedia link), I discovered he was running on a platform much like Sanders’. In his own words, Brown — who was then dismissed by the media and his own Democratic party — said to the electorate, “(Let’s) take back America from the confederacy of corruption, careerism, and campaign consulting in Washington!” In the end, Brown came pretty close but ultimately lost the nomination to Clinton.
I offer the following evidence/reminders of the media’s power in shaping our decisions:
#1) A New York Times‘ March 2010 article explained “How Jerry Brown Became ‘Governor Moonbeam’.” When the article came out, Brown had just announced his bid to win back his old job as governor of California. The first time, he was “governor between 1975 and 1983, when his state led the nation in pretty much everything — its economy, environmental awareness and, yes, class-A eccentrics. The nickname was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting ‘the moonbeam vote,’ which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional.” It stuck with him when he was running against Clinton, and oftentimes when I’ve talked about Brown, my friends and family have rolled their eyes at me because they believe he’s “a nutcase.” Yeah well, earlier this year he was sworn in for a record fourth term, mainly because he turned California’s finances around after years of deficits. The governor before him? Hollywood actor/Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
#2) A New York Times’ August 1992 article about how the Clinton-Gore “made-for-television bus tour, rolling from local media market to media market,” wowed and wooed the press. The national media, of course, pointed out that it was the small-town markets being schmoozed by the Clinton campaign, but it was notable enough to be written up in the venerable New York Times. At which point, I believe, the Clinton-Gore ticket just steamrolled right into the White House. Mainstream media, folks … It’s entertainment!
Quickly, back to Hillary and why my anger this campaign season is directed at the media: I’ve been recommending a favorite morning news show, Morning Joe, because I like what I’ve believed to be a balanced round-table discussion by Republicans and Democrats. Recently, the focus was on Hillary’s “flat apology” for her unsecured email server decision. It was very petty, them insisting that she say “I’m sorry” and mocking her. My question: Why haven’t they insisted that Trump apologize for his nasty comments about FOX News’ Megyn Kelly or fellow Republican candidate Fiorina? Bottom line, I’m looking for a new morning news show.
In closing …
I ask you — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — is it okay with you that “five American companies control what you think”? (WARNING, WARNING: The website link is from RT America, previously known as Russia Today America. Now, some of you might want to call me a “commie.” Whatever. I’ve been called a “commie” before because I like Sanders, who recently was having a hard time shaking the media’s “socialist” label. Whatever.)
I ask you — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — are you open-minded when it comes to discussing politics with people who think differently than you? Or, are you a thin-skinned bully like The Donald who, when his opinions are challenged, goes on the attack? Hmmm, maybe not … That kind of behavior is beneath you. No, you don’t call people names (like “conservative” or “Republican”); you just dismiss others’ opinions as naive. Maybe you’re a “liberal,” a “Democrat”? Well, guess what? You’re not that different from each other. In fact, one notable similarity is how most of us choose our news — which tends to polarize us. Forget about uniting us, educating us … It’s more entertaining to divide and conquer us.
Still, tonight I’ll tune in with an open mind, and tomorrow morning I’ll search the news for analysis. Also, I’d really love to be able to have some serious — civil, respectful — discussions about how WE are going to fix America. Wouldn’t you?