Why Americans (Should) Hate Politics

Last Thursday’s all sizzle and no steak piece on John McCain in the New York Times has been roundly (and rightly) criticized for not delivering on its most juicy accusation, which was that Senator McCain might have had an affair with a lobbyist during his first presidential run in 2000. Considering the condemnation the article has gotten from both the left and the right in the blogosphere, you’d think major news organizations would shy away, at least for a while, from publishing pieces with a lot of supposition and speculation.

Well, you’d be wrong. Today presented two spectacular pieces of gutter journalism. The first came from an expected source, though it appears that Drudge was actually just the messenger this time around. The picture of Obama in traditional Kenyan garb was, according to Drudge, pushed by the Clinton campaign as a way of making a rather convoluted point about what they feel is unequal media coverage. As noted at TalkingPointsMemo, though, the Clinton camp’s denial of involvement in giving the story life isn’t all that convincing.

The second example is by far worse, though. Time’s Mark Halperin, blogging at his outpost, The Page, ticked off a list of sixteen things John McCain could try against Barack Obama if he is the Democratic nominee for president. Most of the suggestions are fairly generic (“1. Play the national security card without hesitation”, “3. Go at Obama unambiguously from the right”) . Mixed in with the banalities, however, are a few eye-openers (“6. Allow some supporters to risk being accused of using the race card when criticizing Obama” and “11. Emphasize Barack Hussein Obama’s unusual name and exotic background through a Manchurian Candidate prism”).

Excuse me, but WTF? Halperin is a supposed to be a “serious” mainstream journalist. He just went on record promoting the use of racially divisive tactics and cultural fear mongering as ways to campaign against a man who could be the first African-American presidential nominee in American history.

Stay classy, Mark Halperin.

Updated to add: Halperin and, to a lesser extent, Drudge, are consummate insiders, denizens of the Beltway, or inhabitants of “the Village” (as Atrois likes to call D.C.). Whatever you call them, folks like Halperin are the keepers of our political discourse, and, as such, the dictates of their profession should lead them to embrace factual reporting, objectivity, nuance and transparency. However, a lot of the time the reporters themselves, and not their work, end up being the story and that’s a sign that something has gone terribly awry (and it gives me an excuse to link to this excellent James Fallows piece about Americans hating the media).

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~ by uvasig on February 26, 2008.

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