Fights Over Tired Clichés Are Important News; Book Banning, Not So Much

Glenn Greenwald has a must-read post today on the “lipstick on a pig” uproar:

We’re fighting multiple wars; our oldest and most established financial institutions are on the verge of collapse; we’ve fundamentally transformed and then dismantled our constitutional framework over the last eight years, etc. etc. But the Right and their media partners are striving to ensure that our election this year is going to be dominated and determined by whether John Kerry looks stupid in wind-surfing tights Barack Obama called Sarah Palin a “pig” when he invoked a meaningless cliché.

It isn’t surprising that the McCain campaign wants this sort of tawdry, Freak Show/Reality Show vapidity to determine the outcome of the election. If you were them, wouldn’t you want that, too? And though it’s not news that establishment media outlets are so easily and happily manipulated by these tactics, tactics which enable them to cover “stories” which their empty-headed reporters can easily comprehend, it is still striking to watch the now-decades-old process unfold and observe how absolutely nothing has changed:

… one of the mindless TV journalists gets convinced that it’s a story — in this case, Jake Tapper of ABC News, who wrote a whole article about the episode last night, claiming about Obama’s “pig” comment that “the crowd rose and applauded, some of them no doubt thinking he may have been alluding to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s ad lib during her vice presidential nomination acceptance speech last week, ‘What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.'” Tapper obviously has no idea what anyone in the crowd was thinking but, instead, was simply using the most frequent tool of journalistic deceit by projecting his own “thoughts” onto the voters on whose behalf he purports to speak. …

… McCain campaign surrogates push the story, and the standard right-wing hacks follow along with the script dutifully, as Sean Hannity hosts segments on this monumental controversy and the most widely-read right-wing Republican blogger, who hasn’t brought himself to write more than five words on any story in several years, writes a virtual novel on this matter last night[.] …

The only actual story here is how brazenly deceitful and cynical the McCain campaign is, and what helpful and easily manipulated allies the establishment media is in all of that. The efforts of a few isolated reporters to debunk the story won’t end up mattering much because, once injected into the Freak Show stew with the help of Jake Tapper, AP and MSNBC, it festers. Even if debunked, it helpfully distracts the country — for another day or two, until the next insipid controversy emerges — from the crises which have been created over the last eight years by the very same people who endlessly foist this idiocy into our elections. All of this makes Nero’s fiddling look sober and responsible by comparison.

In fairness, the media does also challenge campaign controversies that actually matter, like Palin’s and McCain’s nonstop repetition of the Bridge to Nowhere lie — but, it must be said, nowhere near as vigorously or enthusiastically as it jumps on meaningless fluff nonsense like McCain going ballistic over the meaning of a figure of speech that he used himself less than a year ago. And all too frequently, the press drops the ball on important stories — like Sarah Palin asking the librarian at the Wasilla Public Library how she would respond if Palin asked her to remove books from the library. The media has shamefully allowed the McCain campaign to get away with discrediting the core issue of Palin’s apparent support for book banning by focusing on the fact that no books were actually removed. But the point is that Palin deliberately tested the waters to see if she could get away with a book removal order by asking that theoretical question (not rhetorical, as every single news outlet to mention the story has written). And then tried to fire the librarian.

Glenn has the video (below as well) of an excellent (and rare) investigative report on the Palin book banning story, by ABC News’s Brian Ross.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook