Skip to comments.Political Drama Scripted Again by Media Masters
Posted on 09/05/2016 11:09:07 PM PDT by Chris Long
Have A Happy (Scripted) Political Season
Since politics has become a retail and wholesale money machine and the entire process degraded to a series of TV shows (bad TV shows), it is appropriate to consider the whole smelly thing as a consumer issue. Because that is what we are to the politicos: consumers of retail political products; you pay to participate in the political process just like you pay for any other service. But what you get for your money is often unclear as its a bait-and-switch game: buy the pitch, pay your money and cross your fingers. What you get may in no way resemble what you paid for. The Clintons were the true pioneers in recognizing retail politics for what it really is. Buy one, get two who can ever forget that immortal line. Presidential access was for sale, whether it was to Fat Cats seeking pardons or the Chinese government looking for help with ICBM missile development and needing the assistance of firms like LORAL Systems.
More tiresome than the fact that big money rules is the media-scripted nature of the election cycle. There are many distinct and recognizable phases that occur cycle after cycle in the election process. Perhaps you will recognize the subdivisions of the process listed here. It is a TV drama packaged and scripted by the media in collusion with the candidates, all of whom schmooze together, play golf, have drinks at the National Press Club and three-martini lunches on your dime.
As an aside, have you ever considered how a man or woman of relatively modest means, as opposed to rich Fat Cats who can buy a political office, somehow rise in the political machine of either party, goes to Washington on a salary of 100 grand plus and leaves after four or six years with millions in the bank ? Where did all those big bucks come from? What were the motives of those who lined the pockets of the politicos? Exactly what the hell is going on? Political careers should be wealth neutral; i.e. a politico goes to Washington, collects only their salary or valid inheritances, insurance settlements or income from investments in blind trusts and thats it! No schmoozing with corporate Fat Cats on the golf course and speaking at their clambake for a healthy cash honorarium, no free tickets to see the Redskins, definitely no private jet junkets to Europe and payoffs from lobbyists seeking favors. If lobbyists with big bucks look after corporate and special interests, who looks after your and my interests? Ever heard of a citizen lobby not connected to a cash machine like the AARP or NRA? That answer is definitely no, though Ralph Nader is the sole exception to all that. Just one guy.
What is called public service is anything but. Its more like self service and, way down deep, you know thats the sad truth. I called the office of a national politician in Arizona I will not name here and ya know what the first question was? The lady asked me who are you with?. I was on my toes that day so I shot back, I am with the largest political group in this state. Who might that be, she asked? I simply answered, the ordinary taxpayers who cant afford lobbyists! When she was done laughing she hit me up for a $250 per-plate dinner (get your picture taken with the candidate!!!). Bottom line: if youre not with a group bearing cash, get lost. But my phone call and revealing my number and address did get me one thing: automated telemarketing calls for cash and loads of junk mail. I wouldnt be so insistent about all this if the politicos did not obviously regard us in the masses with such contempt
Anyway, heres the scripted campaign scenario youll see cycle after cycle and will allow you in the future to tune it all out because you know whats coming.
Cycle Creep The media ratchets the election cycle back year after year. Currently the election season starts the same day as mid-term elections and is a dreary, wearying two-year process. The Money Game Rather than tell us which politician has this or that idea we get, every day without fail, the numbers game: how much money the candidates have raised. You would almost think the winner of the fundraising race gets declared president by accolade. The media should worry much more about telling us where the money is coming from rather than how much. Ever get tired of hearing how much? And dont believe for a second that the huge amounts of cash indicate ordinary citizen support. The Early Leader Horse Race One candidate from each party will be knighted by the media machine as the Early Leader (and apparent party nominee). The worst part of this phase is listening to the pundits idly speculate about those rigged polls. This is the period when pollsters are solicited to provide the running order and percentages the media outlets want to flail you with. Ever wonder why they never tell you the questions asked in those polls? The tipoff is when the newsreader adopts a serious expression and cautions you the pollster is a non-partisan organization. There is no such thing, never was. The Media Outlet Picks It is during this early stage of the process when the candidates CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, CBS et al want to win become clear. This time the pick of those MSM outlets was Hillary Clinton. The Dark Horse Drama To give the appearance of bias-free reporting, the media outlets coronate a Dark Horse Candidate to appear not to be giving the Early Leader a free ride. This time the Liberal Dark Horse was Barack Obama. But no matter how many family profiles of the Dark Horse the media flails us with, they always remind us the Early Leader has a ridiculously large lead. The Dark Horse coverage often seems to pity the poor sucker who dares to take on the Early Leader. The Republican Early Leader shifted between John McCain and Rudy Giuliani with Fred Thompson as the Dark Horse. The Trivial Stories Phase You remember what it looked like this time: Michelle Obama said this, Cindy McCain said that. Hillary still bakes chocolate chip cookies and subscribes to family values. Rudy had a chicken salad sandwich for lunch, belying his conservative nature. It goes on and on and on for months. The only element missing this time was Socks the cat (BTW the Clintons dumped poor Socks on Betty Curry upon leaving office when Socks value as a political prop was over). The Fill-The-Field Fresh Meat Phase Ultimately Michelle Obama can only say so many dumb things and Hillary repeat her vision ad nauseum. The MSM machine needs Fresh Meat and begins to focus on other candidates. Among these Fresh Meat candidates (especially Republicans) are those the media dubs kooks and weirdos. Filling this void for CNN this cycle was Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and assorted others. Any candidate with strong religious affiliation, especially a Mormon, is dogged relentlessly. Giuliani is often targeted for being divorced. Little is ever said about Rudys tenure as the mob-busting U.S. Attorney in New York; thats old and so boring. And any evidence of competence in the past is no defense when Tim Russert homes in for the kill or a mea culpa. The Talking Head Phase Now the talking heads take over and enjoy more face time in the MSM than the candidates. Endless, idle speculation is rampant and presented as analysis. Of course, the MSM packs the newscasts with Talking Heads favorable to their picked Early Leaders. This phase is truly the doldrums wherein few Americans care but those who do tune in are endlessly told what to think and how to vote. On slow news days this phase can really be a pain in the you-know-what The Expert Analyst Phase Now the MSM turns to the pundits who are so much wiser than the rest of us and defer to experts like Tim Russert, Juan Williams and Oprah Winfrey. People like Russert actually believe their opinion is worth more than yours and if we would just listen, enlightenment will follow and we will see who to vote for. The Expert Analysts all have their picked Early Leaders and dont even try to conceal it. They know we know their game and hope there are still a few suckers watching. The Positions Phase Now the positions of the candidates comes to the forefront as the campaign organizations watch the polls and play the percentages. It would behoove Hillary to say this, Obama to say that, McCain to say something else. Early Leaders are interviewed ad nauseum and asked to weigh in on the issues. Then another round of polls and the positions are refined based on what those who watch the Sunday morning shows think. The Media Pack rushes between campaign stops with microphones thrust to the fore, breathlessly asking about the newest world crisis, asking the candidate what should be done and why doesnt the president get it? The Debates Phase The presidential debates are scams and everyone knows it these days. Candidates do little more than restate their positions and play gotcha with their opponents. The moderators are plants of the MSM and favorable to Democrats and hostile to Republicans. The so-called questions someone like Tim Russert ask Hillary are little more than lead-ins to Hillary filibusters -total softballs. But when Russert is facing Giuliani, he is not so much asking a question as criticizing Rudy. For instance, you have seen people like Russert preface a question to a conservative with Given the failure of [this or that policy or program], what do you intend to do . Youve heard that one before during debates between candidates from both parties. Many of the ordinary citizens in the audience at a debate are shills for candidates and the Liberals are masters at this. The Clintons campaign even admitted it this time around. You dont believe an ordinary Joe could get into one of those audiences, do you ? The post-debate analysis by the same talking heads is tedious but many headlines and much breaking news is derived from the debates. We see bumps in the polls after debates accompanied by detailed analysis and explanations by the same old talking heads who have the wisdom to divine what is happening and explain it all to the rest of us. The Bill Richardson Phase It happens every four years and is a flash in the pan during every presidential horse race. Ever notice that? It begins when the newspapers in Santa Fe, New Mexico (where Richardson is governor) have slow news days and spontaneously generate headlines that are generally not true. Things like Is There a Draft Richardson Movement? and Is Governor Richardson Running For President? I never noticed that phenomenon until I read about it some time ago by a learned pundit but there it is, every four years: Richardson enters the political stage briefly and bows out, sometimes with a curtain call or two. Then the pundits pick up the ball and speculate about Richardson for Veep. The Primaries Phase This occurs after one year as the wanna-bes scatter to the states holding the first primaries. Now we begin to hear more about Iowa and New Hampshire than we care to and suddenly what the people of a rural state like Iowa think, which is definitely not representative of the rest of the country, becomes the Big Story. Politicians go to Iowa for several months every four years and we have entered the Iowa Phase. Everything depends on Iowa, we are told, and nothing else matters. While New Hampshire, a Liberal bastion of the far northeast, gets occasional mention the people of Iowa are feted and schmoozed by the politicos. Apparently Iowans tire of this early on but thats secondary to the Big Story. The Manipulate-The-Polls Phase Now the polls are manipulated to show the Horse Race is in full swing. The MSM turns (just a little) on the Early Leaders and award poll points to the Dark Horse candidate. During this phase, we are told, the Dark Horse is surging, the Early Leader is slipping, and the also-rans are getting their message out there and are gaining support. How often have you heard those trite phrases in the last two months? During this phase the MSM has wiggle room to juggle polls with plenty of space to avoid damaging the Early Leaders. No one remembers the poll numbers from the November before the primaries anyway, right? The polls surge and ebb for the candidates and the Horse Race reaches a fever pitch. Hillary shouldnt have said this, Obama shouldnt have said that, we are told, and the polls are proof the media pundits speak the truth and are infinitely wiser than us ordinary slobs. The Inevitable-Candidate Phase In the background during all the hype there is still the candidate the MSM deems will inevitably win the party nomination and we are constantly reminded of this fact. This election cycle the media was firmly convinced of the inevitability of Hillary and the buts about Obama were flying fast and furious. The Race-Is-Tightening Phase - During this phase the media begins to acknowledge what the people really think and the polls are adjusted and averaged, in some instances to produce two-way and three-way ties or single-digit leads. This is a sure sign the Iowa Caucuses are drawing nigh. We are led to believe the race is reaching a fever pitch and the crowds are roaring at maximum volume. The polls lead the news every night and the talking heads are in full cry. Sniffing a ratings bonanza, the media cranks it up week after week and only an abusive-husband-kills-attractive-wife-who-is-missing story can push the Horse Race below the fold. After the Iowa caucuses we usually see that the polls were all wrong and merely reflected the political leanings of the various MSM outlets. Remember the Mondale-Reagan Horse Race being declared a statistical tie one day before Reagan swept Mondale with the largest electoral vote majority in American history? Remember that this time around. The Iowa Caucuses Phase Am sitting here typing this on 3 December, the evening of the Iowa caucuses and everything in the MSM is running according to the script. The poll numbers have been adjusted to make the Horse Race appear very close all around and the talking heads are apparently over-amped on Starbucks double lattes; theyre in full cry and doing little more than repeating the clichés of the past week, not really telling us anything but making sure you hear it nonetheless. CNN is in full cry, with more Hillary coverage than one cares to hear. Its primary night and the poor citizens of Iowa are besieged by the barbarians. You know how it will play out: the media pack will besiege caucus sites and ask what the issues were and begin trying to steer the outcome. I am reminded of the Kerry is ahead drumbeat that played out into the wee hours of the morning in the 04 elections. Turns out Kerry was never ahead and the exit polls were being rigged by Liberal Media. This is Marathon Night and well see more of the talking heads in one evening than in the past month. After the caucuses theyll adjust their drumbeat to more closely fit what actually happened. The numbers coming in at 6:21 EST show that the poll numbers were a lie. There was no virtual tie between Clinton and Obama and Clinton has a double-digit lead in the national polls if the polls Fox News are using are to be believed. Now, one hour later the numbers have shifted in Obamas favor in the Iowa caucuses and the race is tightening. Ever heard that before? The Post Iowa Caucuses Phase The MSM pundits will adjust the drumbeat yet again to highlight the Iowa Caucuses winner and talk about momentum going into the New Hampshire primaries. Then the pack will hop onto airliners and transit much flyover country on the way to the Yankee bastion far to the northeast. Iowa will be dropped like a used beer can and the fast food economic surge in Iowa will be over, dead and stinking. All of a sudden the citizens of Iowa and what they think will recede into the mists to pop up again in four more years.
Soon party nominees will be declared and crowned by the media pundits and the script will play out through the general election. We already know how the script will go into the general election. Pity the Republican nominee because the media is overwhelmingly for Hillary. Treat all this as a consumer issue, sort of like a purchase gone bad and a spat with the rude manager: a place you certainly dont want to return to anytime soon, but in a scant two years, perhaps sooner, its déjà vu all over again, repeated repetitiously in a recurring cacophony. Tennis, anyone?
That’s a lot of words.
A homage to the final chapter of Ulysses?
Good post, but remember, paragraphs are your friend. :-)
Crap to read. Format please.
Seems heavy on 2006-2008. Seems light on the reality that we get the political campaign we deserve.
If freepers/teaparty/Bernie types were to go door-to-door ... and to care about local elections that build door-to-door armies, then the media would not be as important. That would force the media to play a different game.
But precisely because we don’t do our job we create a vacuum for the media.
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