Beck and Bias

In some commentary on CNN’s main page today, Glenn Beck comes this close to making a good point, before his argument completely crumbles into nonsense. It’s really extraordinary how quickly the whole thing falls apart.

The opening of the commentary gripes about an AP article detailing Obama’s exercising schedule. Fair complaint. The AP undoubtedly has better things to do than fluff pieces. Then he gives some statistics on the amount of time spent on Obama vs. the amount of time spent on McCain since June. Still acceptable, though undoubtedly much of that coverage was due to Obama securing the Democratic nomination. He complains about the large number of reporters following Obama to the Middle East when barely any did the same for McCain during his trip in March. Let’s not forget Clinton vs. Obama was still in full swing during March, so fair or not, that greatly overshadowed McCain’s trip. Still, there’s nothing wrong with making that point.

Minor complaints aside, those points do lead up valid conclusion:

“…To be fair, Men’s Vogue also did an in-depth story on John McCain but, strangely, a photo of McCain didn’t make their cover.

Why the disparity? According to Men’s Vogue deputy editor Ned Martel, there’s a simple explanation: Obama “is what is called in the magazine world an ‘interest driver.'” Translation: Obama sells magazines.

As a conservative, I can’t argue with that logic. “The Media” aren’t around for their health, they’re around to make money, and if Obama drives sales or ratings, then I can’t really blame them for continuing to tap that well until it runs dry….”

And there you have it, Glenn. Right in your fingers. A legitimate point that you can take in so many directions. You could skewer the celebrity-obsessed media for treating Barack and Michelle like they were Brad and Angelina instead of a politician and his wife. You could challenge media outlets to rise above cheap ways to drive up ratings. You might even use this space to declare that your show will not resort to such tabloid journalism and will only discuss Obama’s policies. (Alright, maybe that last one is wishful thinking.) C’mon Glenn, show me what you’ve got!

I do, however, find it funny that many of the same people who are clearly not fans of big business or truly free markets have embraced this “run what rates” philosophy. I guess capitalism is evil until it’s you whose paycheck is at stake.

Wait… but… weren’t you just… You were upset about this a second ago. Who are these people you’re talking about who’ve embraced this philosophy? The editors at the major media outlets? Since when have they hated capitalism? What the hell does the above paragraph mean?

But all of this points to a larger point: We’ve become a country that continually chooses the sizzle over the steak. McCain may not get my vote, but he gets my admiration for at least offering some substance and new ideas when he speaks. Obama, meanwhile, is like the rock star who’s realized that he can just scream unintelligible words into the microphone between songs, and the entire stadium will still scream. When your fans already love you, there’s no reason to risk it by offering anything that might be controversial. Remember the Dixie Chicks?

What… what? The Dixie Chicks? What the hell are you talking about?

As candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain are ironically a lot like the way the media treats them: Obama is the glitzy magazine cover that screams for people to buy the issue, and McCain is the fact-filled article buried inside that makes you glad you did.

Who are you Alanis Morrisette? That’s not at all what ironic means! It would be ironic if Obama and McCain were the opposite of the way they were treated. That’s what irony is, when something is the opposite of what is expected. And where’s all this substance you’re talking about McCain having? And where’s the lack of substance that Obama has? This isn’t at all where you started with this article. This isn’t reflected in any thing you said above. How can this be your conclusion? You started out complaining about partisan, sensationalist coverage of Obama and somehow ended with a partisan conclusion about the quality of the candidates. I might as well end this post with “In conclusion, McCain is a cranky old man.” I understand that in critiquing media bias you always run the risk of exposing your own bias… but c’mon Glenn… you could have at least tried to keep your point coherent.

Glenn Beck, you get a D+ on this paper, though you can rewrite the last three paragraphs for extra credit if you turn it in by Friday. Also, for future assignments, you might want to bring drafts by the writer’s workshop offered by the English department. Many students have found it to be very useful in helping to organize their ideas on paper.

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