Reporting on GOP without mentioning Ron Paul, reporting police deaths emphasizing Mike Huckabee

A lengthy front-pager devoted to the divisions within the GOP in this morning’s Washington Post omitted any mention of Ron Paul. This in spite of the fact that the article notes an increase in percentage of GOPers identifying themselves as ‘very conservative’ fiscally, up from a couple of years ago. Rep. Paul (R-Tex.), with whom I often disagree though not over the Iraq war–which he opposed–is also arguably the congress member singly most responsible for a strong possibility of greater transparency in the Federal Reserve. The Fed may soon be audited; high time.

In more political news, or at least that’s the way it is being presented, numerous media outlets are reporting that four police officers shot in Washington state were killed by a former Arkansas convict whose sentence was commuted by Gov. Huckabee. Huffington Post is playing up the Huckabee angle bigtime.

This is the kind of thing that makes ordinary people despise reporters. See, it’s not enough of a news story, apparently, that four police sitting in a coffee shop were slain. You have to find the ‘hook,’ and the hook in this instance is IT’S PAYBACK FOR WILLIE HORTON!

PAYBACK TIME! PAYBACK TIME!

In no way is this post to be misunderstood as defending or exonerating the infamous Bush Sr campaign in 1988. The Willie Horton attacks on Michael Dukakis–a World War II veteran, btw–were smarmy, bigoted, meanminded and vile. ‘Selfish’ and ‘petty’ would be lavish praise. Those attacks were ‘framed’ by the late Lee Atwater, whose cronies included Marvin P. Bush, youngest Bush brother, and were entirely of a piece with the attacks on John McCain in the 2000 primaries, when rumors circulated behind the scenes intimated that the McCains’ adopted daughter was actually his illegitimate child from a mixed-race liaison. What with one thing and another, this blindly vile, cowardly and calculating attack worked to stop McCain in South Carolina–to the everlasting shame of the news media, which never got around to airing them adequately and thus dispatching them in 2000.

The attacks on Dukakis also would not have worked without the complicity of large media outlets. To put it simply, the Willie Horton campaign against Dukakis was enabled by the news media at the time, which never gave Dukakis a fair chance.

And now the same kind of people–that is, reporters with the same caliber of objectivity and fairness, the same sense of proportion, the same ability to look beyond the moment to the big picture–are boosting ‘Huckabee’ as the lede in a story about gunning down police.

We are indeed stuck in difficult economic times, and our newspapers and other large media outlets are in sore straits, mainly the fault of their own management. This kind of presentation is part of the reciprocal cause and effect between bad times and bad press work. It’s ‘power’ that matters, when times get bad among reporters. The grisliest ‘ordinary’ crimes hardly get reported–cf. those hideous murders of poor and substance-troubled women in Cleveland, Ohio–while anything with a political hook gets massive play. In this instance it’s not because Mike Huckabee has been prominent in the headlines recently; it’s because anything connected, however remotely, with Who Will Win in 2012 has the aura of ‘power’ in the newsroom.

Thus do newspapers drive away readers, while their web sites post newspaper articles that mainly serve as caddies–comment threads–for the most predictably ill-natured, vengeful and ignorant comments imaginable.


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