The MSM Giveth, And It Taketh Away

As Howie Kurtz writes for the Washington Post, Mrs. Clinton has taken to one of the oldest rightwing talking points in the book; the media is biased against her.  To Mr. Kurtz’s credit, he does a decent job of showing where there’s smoke to the fire, and where the Clinton campaign may just be pouring on the whine a little too heavily.

But through it all, there are just some natural aspects of the media everyone seems to forget.

The first is that of course the media ends up having its own little darlings.  In 2000, that would be George W. Bush, and Al Gore suffered heavily for it.  To this date, one would be hard pressed to find a presidential candidate that was so abused by the media.  In 2004 you could make a case for either presidential candidate, but I think Kerry had a slight edge over the incumbent whom the MSM was starting to sour over.

Indeed, that year, Kerry won the newspaper endorsement race, but still managed to lose the election.

Some of this is narrative, newspapers want something good to write about of course, and some of this is simply whether the candidate is likable or not.  While now more people might give Gore a chance over Bush, back in 2000, Gore was lifeless compared to that folksy charm the son of a president displayed.

Likewise, as most polls will tell you, and even the current tone of the Clinton campaign which struggles to convince people that yes, she’s someone you can like, Hillary’s just not that likable.  People don’t really warm up to her.  On the other hand, Obama consistently finds himself near or at the top of presidential candidates most people would want to have a beer with.

But likability has another role to play for Hillary role to play as the media darling.  Keep in mind two things, Hillary has maintained as the candidate with the highest negatives, and on specific issue proposals, she has not led but followed nearly every time, waiting for her opponents to put forth specific plans before testing the waters with her own.  And yet, for the entirety of the primary season, Clinton has remained as the frontrunner of the contest.  Without policy proposals or likability, this means she was clearing double digit leads based on rhetoric and narrative alone.

It was the narrative that this presidential election would be a coronation instead of decision that boosted the otherwise flacid candidate way out in the lead, and it was the media’s complicity to promote that narrative at every step of the way that made that possible.

In other words, when this all started, the only people who really seemed to believe in Clinton inevitability were the Clinton campaign, the Democratic party, and the media.  Had the media decided not to play when it came to the story of a former first lady ascending unabated to the White House, Clinton would be down in the muck with everyone else.

But narratives change, and as momentum shifts away from Clinton, not towards her, the key place where the media has helped her thus far has eroded away.

That Clinton is crying about it now only makes for a new and much more compelling story, one of a queen stripped of her crown, and an America that was reminded it is not led by monarchs but elected officials.  I like it anyway.

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