Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, July 16, 2010

Staying Ignorant With The Mainstream News Media

What an indictment of the mainstream news media! Last Sunday afternoon, Congressman Brad Sherman, who represents California’s 27th district, was challenged at his town hall meeting about a voter intimidation case that the Obama Justice Department had swept under the rug. The room erupted into shouts as Sherman first denied that the events described by his constituents had ever taken place and attributed it to internet rumor mongering. He then claimed that he was entirely ignorant of the whole affair. His constituents didn’t believe him. I did.

And two days later my sympathies were confirmed. After doing some research, Congressman Sherman confirmed to his own satisfaction that the events did transpire as described by his angry constituents and promised to write a letter to the Justice Department demanding answers.

Good luck with that congressman. The United States Commission on Civil Rights has been demanding answers for over a year now and has met only stonewalling.

He then defended himself by arguing that the reason he knew nothing about it was that the news outlets he relies upon did not cover it. He specifically cited The Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, the Economist, Newsweek, Congressional Quarterly and National Journal as his news sources. He then condemned Fox News for doing a better job of informing his constituents than his news sources did of informing him. If only his constituents had kept to his reading list, then his town hall meetings would be much more comfortable.

For those of you who rely upon news sources similar to Brad Sherman’s, on Election Day 2008 members of the New Black Panther Party, a black supremacist group that advocates killing white people and specifically recommends killing white policemen and white babies, had armed themselves with clubs and stationed themselves outside a Philadelphia polling station. They then challenged any white who attempted to vote there. The incident was filmed and broadcast locally, but received little attention outside of Philadelphia. In its final days, the Bush Justice Department won a default judgment against the miscreants, but as soon as Obama’s political appointees were installed, the case was dropped.

Mainstream news sources such as those listed by Brad Sherman and most others maintained their silence, even though a simple mental exercise, such as imagining what would happen if a member of Robert Byrd’s Ku Klux Klan chapter had driven black voters from the polls, would have informed better decision making.

Alternate media outlets such as talk radio, Fox News, The Washington Times, The DC Examiner, The National Review, and The Weekly Standard kept up a background drumbeat, but the legacy news media were able to ignore it and ignore it they did. Then a former career Justice Department employee came forth with more explosive charges claiming that the department was directed to give black defendants preferential treatment. That got a little more attention, but not enough to penetrate Brad Sherman’s cocoon.

As a side note, The New Black Panthers had their own page on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign website. But that didn’t get much attention either.

And Brad Sherman was not the only Democrat to find himself discomfited by constituents who were better informed on the issues than he was. Ciro Rodriguez of Texas’s 23rd Congressional District was also hosting a town hall recently. He was lecturing constituents about the glories of ObamaCare when he cited a Congressional Budget Office report. A constituent interrupted him and informed him that the CBO report he referenced had been amended dramatically and no longer supported the conclusions he was drawing. She was right. He was wrong.

He did not take it well. The YouTube video is quite amusing.

Here is another story that Brad Sherman and Ciro Rodriguez probably know nothing about. In two separate interviews with Al Jazeera and in a meeting with the ranking member of the House committee that oversees the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA Director Charles Bolden claimed that he had been given a directive from Barack Obama to make outreach to Muslim nations his agency’s top priority. He was to improve Muslim self-esteem by reminding them of their centuries old contributions to science, mathematics and engineering.

The usual suspects reported nothing about this.

In Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger advocated government subsidies for the mainstream news media. Why don’t we have them experiment with reporting the news and see if that model works?

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