How did the Media party lose their way?

Salon looks at how the media and politics have lost their way in the wake of the Ted Cruz rooting stories….and every other story of supposed scandal and sleaze and, yes, even the predilection of the media for whom I speak to or txt.

All of these conspired to blur the once-clear demarcation between gossip and news and between celebrities and candidates. We are, needless to say, the worse for it.

Indeed, one of the bigger ironies of our political coverage is that we know far more about the candidates’ personal proclivities and even their alleged transgressions – that is, their Enquirer profiles — than we know about their ideas for governing because, at this stage in the campaign, shockingly little has been reported about those ideas. And as I say repeatedly here, that is not likely to change because reporters and editors don’t want it to change, and won’t let it change.

Justifiably, Matt Bai places responsibility not exclusively on the media but on larger forces that dissolved our entire society into entertainment. We all know we live in what the cultural analyst Neil Postman called “The Age of Show Business” in which there is actually more show business news and gossip each night on television – see “Access Hollywood,” “Extra,” “ET,” and E! — than so-called hard news. And yet MSM reporters couldn’t just throw up their hands and succumb to the cultural tide. They needed a justification – perhaps even a self-justification – for pursuing what amounted to journalistic pornography. In effect, they needed cover.  

They got it with the rise of the highly elastic idea of character – a contribution primarily of the right-wing press that has proven to be convenient both for the conservatives (their discussions of character always seem to target liberals) and for the MSM. Though personal and private peccadilloes had long been off-limits, right-wing pundits, by suddenly insisting that character was as relevant to measuring a candidate’s suitability to be president as knowledge, judgment, experience and temperament, pushed moralism into our political discourse and pushed out common sense. And note that it was personal character that was said to matter, not political character – that is, whether one cheated on his wife and not whether one had, for instance, used government to help the wealthy and powerful. That’s what I mean by losing our bearings.

Where you get moralism, you are sure to find both sanctimony and sensationalism. It was really at that point, when conservative pundits began subjecting candidates, at least Democratic candidates, to the churchy, “holier-than-thou” test, and the MSM gleefully picked up on it, that the MSM were liberated to pursue their voyeurism unencumbered by ethical questions.

It was also at that point that the headlines of the Enquirer and its ilk turned from relatively harmless effluvium at the margins of the press to political character assassination at the center. To be fair, it is not only conservatives now who invoke character while rolling in the mud. Rachel Maddow has been talking way too much lately about Alabama GOP Gov. Robert Bentley’s “illicit” tape recordings of conversations with a female aide, and for no good reason.

Now the wall is down, and it isn’t ever going up again. But you really do wish there were more adults not only among the Republican aspirants but also among the reporters who cover them – adults who know the difference between tabloid news and political reporting, between the public right and public curiosity, and between voyeurism and journalism.

The Media party are now invested in the political process; they are players now.

But let them know this…if you are a player then you are fair game on the field as well….and I play a much more brutal game than all of them.

If they were the victim of a criminal hacker and had the media turn them into the “criminal” rather than the victim I suspect many of them would have run home crying. Some of them are still trying with their little proxies to “bring me down”…well fuck them. It won’t work.

What goes around comes around…double.


– Salon



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  • biscuit barrel

    Well if Cruz has broken his marriage vows, it will come out, and if his wife has more issues than Vogue, that too will come out. And his kids.
    if your family is used to be your background or even part of your campaign raising money, then its all fair game.
    For Cruz, they are waiting till hes the nominee then its a bigger story, or even some sources will wait till he makes President as the payoff will be 10x than just a just 2nd in the race for nomination.

    • Betty Swallocks

      By the same token, it won’t be surprising if one of Helen Clerk’s opponents in the upcoming campaign for who becomes the next SG at the UN digs up Peter’s ‘Adventures in US Lavatories’ travel story

    • SaggyNaggy

      Oh please. Everyone who runs for President uses their family in their campaign at some point, especially if they have a young family. It’s practically unavoidable.

      Nobody cares if Cruz cheated on his wife, given that so many fools are already voting for a self-confessed adulterer (Trump) and a cuck (Clinton). The fact that there’s been no proof of it anyway at this point tells you there isn’t going to be. If Trump has nothing, that story is over. Come on, you think Clinton is going to start pushing that angle?! Yeah right!

      • biscuit barrel

        I dont care. Its just that it will come out if there is anything.
        To me hes even less experienced than Obama was, And Obama was the apple of the Democratic party while Cruz is so disliked by his colleagues so strongly in the Senate, as to make him a walking target.

        • SaggyNaggy

          I’ve always considered being disliked by Mitch McConnell to be a great plus. Obama was so ineffective as a Senator that nobody disliked him!

          Obama’s greatest achievement before running for office was being President of the Harvard Law Review. Ted Cruz clerked for Justice Reinquist, became Solicitor General of Texas, and successfully argued cases in front of the Supreme Court, including the case that finally established the 2nd Amendment as an individual right to own a gun. It’s not as full a resume as many other candidates and former Presidents, but it’s a darn sight better than Obama’s ever was or will be.

  • Pluto

    The MSM has lost it’s way because it’s forgotten who it’s audience is.
    It thinks the virtual garbage that is social media represents the focus of the general public.
    Furthermore they’ve lost the trust of the general public because we’ve come to know they deliberately mislead us through lies or omission.
    All that remains for them is clickbait, a downward spiral.

  • earthyundertones

    It is because they are willing to go low… I mean really low. Witness the NZ Herald on Twitter yesterday for instance.

  • MaryLou

    “a contribution primarily of the right-wing press that has proven to be convenient both for the conservatives (their discussions of character always seem to target liberals)”

    – Yes, it’s the fault of the right wing. Of course.

  • sandalwood789

    “How did the Media Party lose their way?”

    They’re lefties. It was inevitable.
    Almost every left-wing action ends in a pile of soft smelly brown stuff.

  • Red

    And suddenly we see the US Media in support of Ted Cruz – 6 weeks ago they were trying to bury him – Why the support now? Cos they know in their cold hearts Sanders can’t win it – they know Trump perhaps can – Their support of Cruz would see him pitted against Hillary and she’d win over him. Budda Bing… just the way the Media would like it. They consider the rest of the US public so stupid, they can pour on the Obama-esque “what don’t you dummies understand” agenda without criticism.

  • Betty Swallocks

    Whether or not it’s fact is immaterial when you consider how today’s media behaves and ‘character politics’ are conducted. Apart from anything else, I first heard of it years ago before WO was actually online from a friend who is a well-connected lawyer, shortly after the event was alleged to have taken place.