Liberal media bias? My donkey there is.
Even when talking TV heads take a break from the Herman Cain nonsense long enough to talk about the dysfunction in Washington, they still manage to get it all wrong and mislead the American people in the process.
A discussion on Morning Joe Friday morning—all too typical of how cable news is interpreting current events—about the failure of the Democrats latest attempt to get Senate Republicans to help with the economic recovery had me fuming and illustrated just what is wrong with American journalism—a strong right-of-center bias—and also demonstrated how Republicans have been able to literally get away with serial governmental nonfeasance.
The discussion involved former radical conservative congressman (essentially his own description) Joe Scarborough (it’s his show, of course, on that “liberal” network MSNBC), along with his sidekick, the occasional Democrat and former journalist Mika Brzezinski, and frequent guests, Time magazine’s senior political analyst Mark Halperin (who once called President Obama a “dick” on the show) and Mike Barnicle (an “award winning” columnist who resigned from the Boston Globe amid charges of fabricating a column and plagiarizing George Carlin).
The conversation essentially began with Brzezinski reading an excerpt from a fantastic column by Paul Krugman and then an editorial from the New York Times, “Putting Millionaires Before Jobs“:
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, bitterly accused Democrats of designing their infrastructure bill to fail by paying for it with a millionaire’s tax, as if his party’s intransigence was so indomitable that daring to challenge it is somehow underhanded.
The only good news is that the Democrats aren’t going to stop. There are many more jobs bills to come, including extension of unemployment insurance and the payroll-tax cut. If Republicans are so proud of blocking all progress, they will have to keep doing it over and over again, testing the patience of American voters.
The conversation soon headed off to crazytown when Scarborough noted all the wonderful things that Paul Ryan and the Republicans in the House have done to try to create jobs (don’t laugh, he was serious), involving “15 jobs bills” that were sent to the Senate where Democrats let them die. Let’s pick it up from there:
SCARBOROUGH: I gotta say by the time the election comes along Republicans are gonna be in pretty damn good shape, when it comes to obstructionism. Because they’re doing something and the Democrats are killing it. Now you’ve got the President finally trying to do something on jobs and the Republicans are killing it. It’s a wash.
HALPERIN: Well, there’s no question Republicans don’t get a fair shake in the media in general on those two points and they have a point on both of them. But those aren’t views that can get a majority in this country…if people want to spend the next year posturing, they can, but it’s not the right thing for the country, and the President needs to convince Republicans and his own party that we don’t have a year to waste. Unfortunately, right now that’s the trajectory we’re still on.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Mike, that’s where we are. The Republicans are passing their bills, which the Democrats are killing. Democrats want to pass bills that the Republicans want to kill. This is the time that Tip O’Neill would put his arm around Ronald Reagan and they’d sit down in the White house and they would actually work for what’s best for America.
BARNICLE: Exactly. But I mean this last line of the Times editorial [reading]: “The Republicans, if they’re so proud of blocking all progress, have to keep doing it over and over again, testing the patience of American voters.” People on the Times editorial board ought to take a walk around the building that they’re housed in. Most Americans, I venture to think, think what’s happening in Washington is a virtual clown show—both sides.
SCARBOROUGH: Both sides!
BRZEZINSKI: Polls show it for sure.
First, let us understand that Scarborough, who was part of that extremist class of Republicans that first took over the House in 1994, is, only in the context of current crazy conservative politics, sounding quite reasonable: sit down and make a deal he says to both sides—even though “both” sides are not guilty of not wanting to make a deal. (The legislation offered by the Democrats is essentially already bipartisan in nature.)
Second, let us understand that Mark Halperin has a history of selling Republicanism to the public (see, for instance, here and here). Besides calling the President names, his most recent badge of honor is a puff piece he did for Time on Rick Perry, introducing him to the world. Even given his obsession with bending over for Republicans, for Halperin to say that they “don’t get a fair shake in the media in general” on the jobs issue sent my piss meter spiking once again. Was he trying to be funny?
Throughout the episodic budget battles over the past two years, continuing into the current fights over how to help the economy create jobs, Republicans have enjoyed universal media equality with Democrats, in terms of having pure motivations and in terms of culpability for failure. “Both sides” are morally and ideologically pure and “both sides” are equally guilty of not compromising.
That bulldook analysis is how the mainstream, Beltway media often presents the political and economic news to Americans, even forgetting the one-sided coverage on Fox “News.” Halperin says,
the President needs to convince Republicans and his own party that we don’t have a year to waste.
As if Democrats have been committing mutiny against the President’s proposals and are equally to blame for nothing getting done! It’s a preposterous lie and Halperin knows it, but he has some kind of unhealthy need to appear “balanced,” when there is no balance to the matter.
The last vote on the infrastructure-jobs bill that “failed” in the Senate (even though it got a majority of votes) received all but one of the Democrats’ votes, and every single Republican senator voted against the damn thing. So how is it that President Obama should be convincing “his own party that we don’t have a year to waste“?
Mark Halperin is a paid analyst, for both Time and MSNBC. For God’s sake, the man gets paid, handsomely, for this stuff!
It’s sickening is what it is. I believe I could go to a Joplin Walmart and randomly pick out a patron from the produce section who could, while testing the tomatoes, present a more accurate picture of events in Washington than Halperin’s.
And then we have journalist-columnist Mike Barnicle, who plays the “everyman” on Morning Joe. His toilet-paper-thin analysis of most issues belongs on Fox and Friends, not on a show that tries at times to have a serious discussion of current events. Barnicle says “both sides” are clowns, “both sides” are thus guilty, “both sides” are thus the problem.
That’s like saying the cops and robbers are both to blame for the increase in crime. It’s preposterous and it would be hilariously preposterous, if there weren’t so much at stake.
Again: There is no damned overall liberal bias in the press. Friday’s segment and others like it on Morning Joe and elsewhere on “liberal” MSNBC prove it. Would to God there was such a bias.
Loud-mouthed conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and the Fox stable of reactionary blabberbots have been so successful in convincing mainstream journalists that there is a bias against conservative ideas, that those mainstream journalists take the easy road out and present a distorted version of events, a fuzzy and vague picture of what is really going on in America, a picture in which both parties are to blame for the dysfunction.
What is really going on is that Republicans are sabotaging Barack Obama’s presidency and they don’t give a damn if millions of Americans suffer another year or two until the job is done.
And even if journalists rightfully refuse to call it “sabotage,” they ought to at least forego reporting as news the “both sides are guilty” lie.