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Guest Thinkers

Media Dereliction Of Duty Gives GOP Free Pass

A participant at a Republican National Committee fundraising retreat committed an inexcusable faux pas earlier this week when he forgot to pack a document from the meeting before checking out of his hotel room. The media feeding frenzy over the controversial 72 page PowerPoint presentation has forced the RNC to issue several denials. One of my buddies called me to find out what was going on. “Nothing we didn’t already know,” I told him.

Democrats on Wednesday sharply criticized a Republican National Committee fundraising document that caricatured President Obama as the Joker, while Chairman Michael S. Steele sought to distance himself from it. Also depicted were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.), presented as Cruella de Vil and Scooby-Doo, respectively. The three Democratic leaders were gathered under the heading “The Evil Empire.”

RNC’s Finance Director Behind Controversial Fundraising Pitch       Washington Post

One of the things that bothers me about all of this is the way the media is now pointing to the defaced images of President Obama, Senator Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as the proverbial “smoking gun” by which they can link the GOP to the extremists who make these kinds of statements the centerpiece of their opposition to the Obama Administration and the Democratic controlled House and Congress.  It is as if the mainstream media has decided to quit playing cat-and-mouse with its audience long after the audience has already deduced the connection.

The other thing that bothers me is how little the mainstream media is willing to invest in exploring how much of the GOP’s strategies rest on the messaging sleight-of-hand they pay Dr. Frank Luntz hundreds of thousands to dream up after researching actual voter responses, and how much of their strategies actually rest on new solutions or new ideas.

In an era where the watchwords are “accountability” and “credibility”, the mainstream media has done little to rebut the charges by many that they serve the interests of the elite. In a lot of ways, their situation, in which they are left to police their own actions and agendas, are analogous to the doctor who foolishly tries to treat his own ailments.

Because if you spent any time this morning watching the Sunday political talk shows like Meet The Press, you quickly saw how willing the talk show hosts and pundits were to stick to the “asked and answered” routine when it came time to grill their Republican guests on the issue. Instead of simply asking Orrin Hatch or Mitch McConnell what their opinion was on the matter, after running clips of the damning document, why didn’t the hosts show these Republican leaders how the revelations dovetailed with their recent actions, and then make them defend their actions? 

Is that too much to ask from an industry that claims its job is to act as the people’s watchdog against political malfeasance?

In the military, they call what we’ve witnessed on our televisions and radios and newspapers these past few months “dereliction of duty—the avoidance of any duty which may be properly expected.” Instead of removing any ambiguity from situations like the one in which the GOP finds itself with the release of their actual fundraising tactics, our media continues to add to the confusion.


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