been almost a week since the second Presidential debate, and I'm still
baffled at the post-debate coverage.
no, that's not really true. I remember turning to a fellow viewer as
we watched Bush go to pieces and saying, "watch; they're gonna
come on and call it for Bush."
was kidding, really, but only half-kidding. I felt the same way four
years ago watching Bush walk off with the popular opinion trophy after
futzing his way through on the strength of "fuzzy math" and
simple lies. I would have sighed too.
was actually a bit chuffed after the first debate, watching even assholes
like Joe Scarborough gush about Kerry. Soon after, Bill O'Reilly even
said Bush would be finished if Bush took a similar pasting in the second.
I should have seen it coming.
neither debate was even close. Kerry crushed Bush in both, it
was painfully clear. I'm certain he will do the same in the next-it's
really kind of hard to watch, like a Bills/Cowboys Superbowl. But, in
media sports-metaphor-speak, the refs seem to be calling a different
game from the one I'm watching.
was actually cringing when George steamrolled Charlie Gibson to reprimand
Kerry for having the audacity to criticize him. His tone was enraged,
and his argument was ridiculous: Kerry shouldn't criticize the war because
it would make the troops sad; he'd hurt the coalition's feelings.
It was a theme Bush hammered over and over again in both debates: Hey
man, this is a war. Dissenting opinions are in poor taste.
President fell apart up there. It was horrible. I was ecstatic. When
he answered the final question--from a woman who wanted to hear him
admit three mistakes--with a tirade about how he's always done the right
thing, I thought that would be the first thing the pundits would jump
I was wrong. To my initial shock and continuing horror, when the debate
had concluded, my ear canals promptly filled with shit. No one seemed
to be talking about Bush's angry meltdown, or the dodged "mistakes"
question. No one seemed to mention how Bush had simply repeated himself
again and again, with the same stock lines about mixed messages and
firm resolve that had failed him in the first debate. The general consensus
was that Bush "came to play," that he had either won or it
was a draw.
could see what was happening here, what was always happening: Bush is
actually protected by his incompetence as a human being. His
first debate performance had been so incredibly bad, and expectations
lowered so much, that conservatives were delighted beyond belief by
the fact that he actually made it through the thing without sobbing
or falling over. Kerry was pretty good, they said, but Bush had done
really well-you could almost hear them stifling the words "for
such an idiot." MSNBC's Republican-stacked team worked overtime
to cast Bush as the winner in the face of all logic. They glowed about
his performance in the way a parent praises her child's performance
as a dancing molar in a school play about dental hygiene-"you remembered
your lines and everything!"
they praised I couldn't believe. His asinine, mechanical winking and
smirking was labeled folksy and charming. His pumped-up, aggressive
body language and his yelling were lauded as competitive and confident.
His distorted bullshit about Kerry's record and his insanely hypocritical
"flip-flopping" charge were deemed effective without any regard
to their validity.
seemed to notice that Bush had called Kerry "Senator Kennedy"
at one point. The awful "want some wood?" line was called
effective long after it was determined that yes, Bush does own a timber
company, and he did receive an $84 payment from it, and it does qualify
him as a small business owner in the statistical fantasy that he enters
when he criticizes Kerry's economic plans.
couldn't believe it. Had I been so blind? Had Bush actually done well?
I went and checked the instant web polls. All of them, even the one
on Fox, showed Kerry as the winner by huge margins. These polls are
not "scientific," but still I was pleased to see it. But the
next day, after 24 hours of "Bush won" or "it was a draw"
spin, the numbers were much closer, and Fox had reversed to 55% for
madness continued for days. Heavily slanted "fact-checking"
segments failed to mention that Bush had used the same damn lie about
catching 75% of Al Qaeda's leadership, which had already been exposed
as BS after the first debate. They also gave him a pass on the near-comic
assertion that he had worked to reduce mercury and other pollutant
emissions standards, when the precise opposite is true.
the spin can only do so much. A "scientific" CNN/USA Today/Gallup
poll, which sampled 6 percent more Republicans than Democrats,
showed Kerry winning with 47 percent to Bush's 45 percent. 53% of independents
thought Kerry won; 37% thought Bush did. Other polls showed Kerry winning
by bigger margins, in particular a CBS poll of undecideds--which MSNBC's
Joe Scarborough actually crumpled up and threw away on air, refusing
to broadcast the results to his viewers.
a couple of nights ago, the ultimate slap in the face: on Fox News,
Brit Hume brings out some suit from the Center for Media and Public
Affairs, yet another "non-partisan" organization funded by
far right luminaries like Pats Buchanan and Robertson, and fascist press
overlord Richard Mellon Scaife. A colorful chart appears in overlay
on the screen, indicating a clear "liberal bias" on network
news in the post debate coverage. The evidence? The networks had said
many more "positive" things about Kerry, while they had said
slightly more "negative" things about Bush. The cable news
channels, on the other hand, had more even scores.
clear implication was that cable news, including Fox, had presented
a more "balanced" view, and the antenna networks were showing
their socialist leanings. Hume cheered on the study, going as far as
he could to underline the message. What was not mentioned even once,
however, was that Kerry was the obvious winner of the debates, which
made the network numbers make sense, and the cable numbers the apparent
product of editorial bias. But I didn't need a chart to tell me that.
fix is in. Bush is getting kid-gloved all the way back into the White
House. The news is now the enemy, poisoning the minds of the masses,
trumpeting talking points and denying reality. The less news you watch
in this election cycle, the better off you will be. They're pulling
out all the stops now in an attempt to slow Kerry's building momentum-expect
a lot of stories about Nader in coming weeks if things get desperate.
It's an uphill battle presenting an unelected, unscrupulous, and unfeeling
simpleton as a hero, but they've got a lot of money and no pesky souls
to get in the way.
the time you read this, the third debate will be over. This time, I'm
going to try something new: I'm going to turn my TV off right when it's
over, and spend the night in the company of my own conclusions. After
all, there'll be more than enough lies getting tossed around in those
90 minutes to last me all week; I don't need more from the press.