I don’t usually get political here in PopCult, but today the election coverage has encroached on my turf and I’m a little miffed. I have to say that I’m disgusted at the tone of the mainstream media coverage of the West Virginia Democratic Primary race between Senators Clinton and Obama.
We hardly get any attention from the national media here in the Mountain State. Basically, unless there’s a coal mine disaster or a flood the media tends to think of the entire state as as suburb of Richmond. For the first time in a long time, West Virginia’s role in the primary process actually matters, and the media, as personified by the 24/7 cable news outlets, has decided to frame the election in this state in the following way: West Virginia voters are racist, because they will likely vote for Sen. Clinton over Sen. Obama.
Obviously, this is a ridiculously unfair spin on, and slur against, our state. And it betrays what is an undeniable bias against Hillary Clinton on the part of the media. Objectivity went out the window a long time ago, but this is something more sinister. This is payback. It’s no secret that the Clintons did not exactly cater to the press when they were rising to power in Arkansas, and later when they occupied the White House. Now old grudges appear to be ready to help propel Barack Obama from obscurity to the Oval Office.
Chris Matthews, on MSNBC just this morning, made the remark that voters who support Sen. Clinton are not “enlightened.” Now, admittedly, Matthews is the one of the worst examples of an exuberant Clinton hater in the media, but this remark was bad even by his low standards.
Think about it. West Virginia is being painted as an unsophisticated backwards state because we may go to the polls in overwhelming numbers to vote for a woman, despite being told by the national press on an hourly basis that she has no chance of winning. We’re being labeled as racist because we dare to vote for our choice, rather than simply ratify the winner that was chosen for us by the “real states” that vote earlier in the year.
Why doesn’t the media frame the Democratic Primary process another way? How about we talk about how all those states that picked Sen. Obama are sexist? You know, they’re so backwards and “unenlightened” that they voted for an unknown quantity, a rookie Senator from Illinois, rather than risk putting a woman in charge. You don’t see people talking about how North Carolina is “unsophisticated” because they overwhelmingly rejected the idea of a woman sitting in the Oval Office, do you?
I’ve been to North Carolina. That state is no more “enlightened” or “sophisticated” than West Virginia. Hell, large portions of North Carolina’s population just recently moved there from here!
This is all about semantics and loaded rhetoric. It has nothing to do with the actual candidates. The media, as personified by weasels like Matthews, is portraying the race in moronically simple terms now: Obama = Good, Hillary = Bad. They somehow think that Sen. Clinton staying in the race, an act which is costing her millions of dollars and bringing excitment and record voter turnout to states that are normally shut out of the primary process, is harmful to the Democratic Party. Damn her for making all the people vote!
The media is so intent on scoring points so they can take credit for “bringing down Hillary” that they don’t seem to mind bending reality. The truth is, the Republican Party is the one that’s been hurt by the coronation of their nominee for president several months too early. Are we hearing about record turnouts in the Republican primary elections? No, we aren’t. THEY HAVE NO REASON TO VOTE. My Republican friends all have the same level of enthusiasm for McCain as they would if they were going to have to take their sister to the prom.
The Democrats do have a reason to vote. And they’ll do it in West Virginia today. The chance that we may not vote the way the media is ordering us to is driving the Chris Matthews of the world crazy.
I’m going to vote. I have every year since I’ve been old enough. I have a slight preference for one of the Democratic candidates, but like most Americans, I will support whoever gets the Democratic nomination for president. The past eight years have just been too trying to “stay the course” one more time.
I do have to take issue with one other point of ridiculousness from the media. They do exit polling to determine if voters for one candidate will support the other in November. They ask this question at the most emotional time possible, right after a vote has been cast. That question should not be asked in the heat of the moment, and that polling data should be mocked and discarded. It’s like asking the fans filing out of a stadium after a bowl game who the top football team in the country will be next year. It’s the “Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?” school of journalism.
It’s coverage like this that makes me disavow being a member of the press. “I just cover music, animation, toys and comic books,” I’ll say. I don’t like to associate myself with something as frivolous and subjective as political “journalism.”