Ayers and Health Care: The Post's Electoral Relativism

Well, the GOP is in full-press mode on the Bill Ayers thing. Everywhere you go it's Barack Obama and his domestic terrorist pal Ayers. This is the age-old Republican tactic perfected by Atwater and Rove. Find a smear and, even after its been discredited as dishonest and sleazy, keep repeating it often enough that a solid portion of the dumbest voters in America believe it. It's almost like infecting a presidential election with a form of schizophrenia. All sense of proportion is lost; a tiny meaningless fact (Obama once served on a well-respected board with Ayers) balloons out of control to overwhelm a weak media and an uninformed populace and sways a presidential election.

Journalists of all stripes should condemn the tactic, but instead they're so consumed with "balance" and "objectivity" that they not only let the horse out of the barn, they make sure it gallops up and down and across the land. Just now, Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press questioned Colin Powell about Ayers as if it were a perfectly viable issue. That's like a doctor giving an endorsement to snake oil, but it slides as respectable journalism. You hear mainstream media sources constantly talking about how, yes, McCain/GOP has been negative, but so has Obama. Well, what they don't say is that Obama's campaign has been negative on important issues like health care, taxes, voting records, etc. Not a scurrilous and underhanded attempt to associate his opponent with terrorism.

A Pulp source recently sent the following example of what you might call the media's electoral relativism that was published in the Palm Beach Post last weekend.

You can't make out the words here, but the Post graphic compares the Obama-Ayers slime campaign to an Obama ad that "depicts McCain's tax cut as a boon for corporations and insurance companies and criticizes his health care plan as expensive for workers."

How is the Obama ad "down and dirty"? It's a perfectly honest ad that focuses on issues that most affect voters' lives. That's the same as the shameless Ayers campaign in the Post's book?

A Pulp source sent the graphic to me with a few choice words. I'll end the post with the source's words:

Yet another example of this journalistic hobgoblin -- but this one's particularly striking because it conveys the message that Obama spin is equally as 'dirty' as McCain's slander and falsehood. [Post Editor] John Bartosek has no political agenda, other than this: Don't find fault with one campaign unless you find equal fault with the other. I've seen him practice this false balance innumerable times in the newsroom. Problem being, in the real world the rest of us inhabit, that unthinking type of journalism effectively rewards the fabricators, and discounts objective truth.

And it also allows ABC News to scoop the Post not once, but twice on sex scandals surrounding our own congressional delegation.

Just sign me:

Recovering Journalist

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