Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Anatomy Of IOKIYAR

Over at Salon, Greg Kamiya has a worthwhile piece up about why Republicans get a pass for their crazy pastors but Democrats like Barack Obama do not.

It’s interesting because it really, in a broad sense, explains why Republicans get a pass on, well, everything. Kamiya is spot-on when he writes this:
The media's double standard is all about deference to perceived mainstream norms, and tiptoeing around the Christian right. Despite their cartoonish views, the media treats Hagee and Parsley as quasi-mainstream figures, which makes McCain's relationship with them non-newsworthy. The dirty little secret of mainstream American journalism is that it operates within invisible constraints that conform to some imagined Middle American consensus.

This is true with just about everything the media does. For instance I never understood the pearl-clutching that errupted after John Kerry mentioned Dick Cheney’s gay daughter in a 2004 debate. She wasn’t in the closet, it was no secret, and she wasn’t a private figure, either: she chaired her father’s campaign. If anything it showed how hypocritical the GOPs position on GLBT rights is. Yet the GOP managed to spin that one into Kerry being the bad guy. The “long overdue national discussion about gay children” never happened. Why? Because although survey after survey shows this isn’t true, the media believes middle America thinks gay = icky, so Kerry's mention of the gay Cheney daughter was easily turned into a gauche airing of a family secret.

Kamiya goes on:

Afraid of coming across as arrogant elitists who don't understand or respect the faith of "real" Americans, the media has pulled its punches on the Christian right for years.

And yet, as I’ve said many times on this blog and elsewhere, the true picture of American Christianity is far more diverse and far less reactionary than the media portrays. Yet when the media does its election-year exit polling, they don’t even ask Democrats if they are born-again or evangelical Christians. They’ve already decided all Christians are Republican, so why bother? And all Republican Christians are right-wing wackadoodles like Rod Parsley and John Hagee. Ergo, Parsley and Hagee are mainstream. Neat how that works.

This media failure to go off-script and report the truth instead of the fantasy goes far beyond its coverage of religion. It extends through every aspect of this campaign: John McCain is still a “maverick,” reality to the contrary; Democrats are in “disarray” because we have two strong candidates for president; the Republicans aren’t, yet they can’t find a candidate to appeal to their fractured coalition. Barack Obama can’t bowl, which proves he’s “elitist” and out of touch with Middle America, but John McCain flies around the country on his heiress wife’s private jet and he's a regular guy.

There are dozens of examples of this double standard. It would be sad if it weren’t so dangerous. This could very well decide who our next president is, and it doesn’t appear that the media is poised to change its ways through any form of self-examination.

Kamiya writes a lot of the media's double-standard off to its need for "sensationalism" but I think they're just lazy. Only a press truly asleep at the wheel could present the contradictory narratives that Obama is a Muslim with a scary Christian pastor. You just want to go, “Huh?”

How many networks covered the news that President Bush was in Saudi Arabia last week to broker a deal on nuclear technology? You know, the kind we keep saying Iran can’t have?

Instead, all we heard last week was about “appeasement.” I don’t know what’s more sensational than our government selling nuclear technology to the country that spawned Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers. But we sure didn’t hear a word about it on the news, did we?

Some day a few decades from now we’re going to look back and wonder what kind of insanity took hold of America back in the Oughts. I don’t think it’s insanity. I think it’s willful ignorance.