The press, often called 'The Fourth Estate," is one leg of the foundation on which the government functions. In a functioning democracy, the press is how the public stays widely and properly informed and it is how the government communicates its plans to the people on both sides of the aisle. To use Obama's simile, it is one leg of a stool. However, just as for a stool to stand properly all the legs must be straight and of equal length, so the press has to play things straight for government to function properly in a Democracy. However, since at least the 1990's the U.S. press's leg has been about as straight as a dog's hind leg.
During Clinton's Administration, 80 different people of diverse viewpoints owned the media. Now, you can count on one hand those who own the media, and they're all right wing. Modern news coverage shows it. How can anyone call this a Democracy when we have Tokyo Rose in charge of public dissemination of purely one political party (the GOP's) side broadcast in the form of endless repetition of purely GOP talking points and then posing as objective news reporting? A survey of the companies that own the major networks shows that conservative, status quo oriented super-conglomerates own our networks. From moderately conservative to right wingers, Republicans tend to dominate these corporation’s boards of directors.
Obama got into office in spite of, not because of, any help from pundits or reporters. And every day of his tenure in office so far, we have seen constant appearances of GOP leaders on television grandstanding and everything about Obama's policies portrayed as wasteful, ineffective and faulty. The Republicans are getting away these outrages daily, scot-free, and the media is helping them.
However, now that Obama won the election, what does the mainstream press do but try and overturn Obama's popularity by incessantly repeating the GOP's talking points as a starting point and premise from which they analyze Obama's policies and his performance. In other words the press doesn't come out and just show they are racist and make race-baiting statements. That would violate their phony political correctness. Instead they nitpick, use subtly negative evaluations and words with insulting connotations (e.g. Obama "muscled" the Stimulus Bill through Congress", which implies that the bill was forced through with mafia-like tactics). They begin from their insinuation that Obama and the Democrats are suspect and guilty until proven innocent. And of course they never ARE proven innocent because when facts bear out the Democrats' point of view, the Republicans, accompanied by the constant repetition from the press, like 'whack-a-moles' don't admit they were wrong, but instead, they move the goal posts to another criticism and just create new falsehoods in new talking points. There is no acknowledgement of the Democrats' having been correct. Not once do the press or the GOP apologize for blowing it.
You didn't see this treatment applied hardly ever to George W. Bush. The press was Dubya's obedient lapdogs and knuckled under to whatever policies Bush wanted to bring forward. Only after repeated and massive Bush Administration failures did the press even begin at all to put out very mild criticisms, which never lasted more than during one newscast, and then they quickly moved on. But Obama, before he was even elected, indeed before he was even nominated to the candidacy for President, faced a barrage of accusations of lack of patriotism, unfit character, insults hurled at everything from his mannerisms to his personality, constant sniping, outright lies, innuendo and blatant slander. And even when the slander was debunked the press endlessly repeated it all anyway.
Case in point, the charge the recently passed Stimulus Bill is wasteful of taxpayer money. Which party wasted 6 trillion dollars on the Iraq War, unneeded tax cuts for the super-rich, the huge boondoggle of "fixing" the damage from Hurricane Katrina, which remains much of it UNfixed to this day, the first half of the TARP taxpayer giveaway to the banks, waste and fraud in the rebuilding of Iraq, etc? Which party oversaw the most colossal wastefulness in U.S. history? It wasn't Obama or the Democrats. Even when the Democrats controlled the House from 2006 to 2008, they were stymied by an alliance of Senators on the right and President Bush, who worked together to use vetoes to shoot down all attempts at reform and responsibility.
The effect of all this baiting and belittling and misrepresentation is to force President Obama to constantly have to re-climb the steep hill of obstructionism the GOP/press conspiracy is every day renewing as they attack over and over. They obviously hope, for the next four or conceivably eight years, to create a constant drumbeat of doubt, insult and the playing of 'gotcha', attempting to and undermine Obama's plans and credibility.
After the repeated recent Republican rejections of Obama’s overtures toward bi-partisanship, we can be in no doubt about what kind of people the GOP and their media allies are because all the major networks to varying degrees make themselves GOP-driven-Obama-detractors spewing partisan vitriol with talking heads and network news programs providing an undeserved megaphone through which Republicans to crank out their half-truths, slander and outright untruths at Obama and his projected policies. The GOP-dominated talking points of the press can't be allowed to appear openly racist and bigoted. Rather, instead, they repeated give wide play and airtime to constant barrages of Republican talking points that are thinly disguised, patronizingly insulting untruths. They accuse President Obama of what they themselves are guilty of.
So what can the public do to get some balance into the news reporting? One sure way to counteract some of this barrage of sedition on the part of the press and the GOP would be to re-institute the old Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time Provision. If Obama hopes to govern and get a fair hearing in the public and be able to have the Democrats have a fair chance in the next elections, the media need to be FORCED to allow him to get a fair hearing. They won't do that now because they don't have to.
President Obama will never be able to communicate with the Public as long as talking heads and news 'reporters' exaggerate the GOP's influence and power. The press is empowering the GOP to usurp this new presidency. And I'm sure, if the Fairness Doctrine came up for consideration, I'm sure that the Republicans would unanimously yell "censorship' As usual, the GOP forgets that what they accuse others of they are twice as guilty themselves. Look at how they've misrepresented, lied and engaged in undeclared censorship, especially since the beginning of the Presidency of George W. Bush. The Bush White House was highly secretive and censored the War in Iraq, put a chill on press coverage of Bush Administration policies by using fear and patriot baiting. Press collusion was how they almost impeached Clinton and later started the Iraq war -- all with media complicity.
There are things happening every day that the press ignores when it shouldn't. Yet gobs of press airtime are wasted on hobby horsed tabloid type stories that have little to do with informing the public about anything related to vital issues. These media corporations instead choose to harp for days on a plane crash, a sensational celebrity misdeed, or some other trivia.
Now, I grew up during the Vietnam War and back then people were allowed to see things like the Chicago Democratic Convention police riot and the death and destruction of the Vietnam War. We may have had government lie to us, but there was real investigative reporting, such as that done by Woodward and Bernstein, which told us the unvarnished truth. Since then news has been cherry picked, reliant on White House spoon fed handouts and generally sculpted and tailored to fit the message of the status quo. Being denied an equal voice on the public airwaves has effectively silenced the Progressive Left. Why? Well, for one thing, mega conglomerates have homogenized, centralized and merged all the news outlets.
So now, with no Fairness Doctrine in place the GOP-influenced media are in an all-out war against the Obama presidency and they cleverly hide their assaults behind pseudo objective coverage which is not very thinly disguised unvarnished right wing propaganda.
We voted President Obama in to get things done. We don't need one party and a narrow band of oligarchs impeding what the people voted for. We can eradicate this unbalanced bias in the media by allowing both sides equal access for their voice to be heard. Not provide a megaphone for one side while ridiculing, marginalizing and trivializing the other side.
As it stands now, the press is trying to undo and reverse the last election. They're trying to get a death grip on Barack Obama before he can even develop his policies. They want to sway the American people away from Obama and think that given enough constant repetition of GOP talking points, people will believe the GOP version of the issues which they are being repeatedly fed on news programs.
The GOP is obstructionist and it's impeding the progress of the country. They had their turn and they need to be kicked out of the way from having such unfair, inordinate influence in view of their major election losses. This Fairness Doctrine is well worth looking into. The G0P and press alliance needs to be reined in and nipped in the bud and forced to be fair.