The timidity of our press corps
By Richmond Gardner at Jul 15, 2010
Back during the 2008 campaign for the Presidency, Obama, Biden and McCain all found their religious viewpoints examined in great detail. In March 2008, ABC News felt comfortable covering the religious viewpoints, and specifically the religious advisers of, Democratic primary opponents Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as well as those of John McCain. In September 2007, the Pew Research Center said frankly that Mitt Romney's Mormon faith was held against him to a degree, but in general, the public was inclined to see a mildly-religious candidate as a better one.
Knowledge Resources provides a guide to all of the 2008 candidates' views. Here are some of Sarah Palin's:
Pentecostalism was developed from 1913 to 1918 and modified in 1946. One ofits primary tenets
As a direct result of this belief, Pentecostalism believe in "Jesus only" baptism and not baptism in the Holy Trinity and they also believe that the speaking of tongues during baptism indicates a "true" baptism. Did the media in general cover these rather unusual beliefs? In September 2008, PBS did aquickie, once-over-lightly
survey of Palin's viewpoints, stating only that
Granted, most of the short piece focused upon how abortion and religion intersected and not upon religionper se
. A Columbia Journalism Review piecefrom the same month
goes over the various controversies over religion and Palin that occurred during the campaign and is notable for the fact that it mostly cites blogs and fairly low-profile reporters. The Washington Times and Rachel Maddow are the highest-profile sources that get cited. So no, the media in general did not cover Palin's beliefs the way they did Obama's, McCain's, Clinton's and Biden's.
The same type of shying away from uncomfortable topics is apparent in the meda's coverage of race, specifically, in the way that the right wing treats it and our President. That there's racism being expressed by right-wing Republicans andespecially by the Tea Party
, is getting harder and harder to deny. The blogger Digby says, concerning Sarah Palin's use of thevery racially loaded term "half-black"
Media Matterssurveys the recent racist behavior
and speech of prominent right wing figures like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and wonders why their views aren't really being covered by the media. The Washington Post/CNN media critic Howard Kurtz recently spoke about Rush Limbaugh's commentary, but MMFA note some interesting sides to the story that Kurtz politely overlooks:
The problem appears to be that, as with Palin's apparently-heretical religion, it's simply not possible to really discuss racial issues and how Republicans are talking about them without getting, well, judgmental. Kurtz simply can't quote Limbaugh's more jaw-droppingly outrageous comments without appearing to be taking sides against him.
There are two kinds of objectivity. There is the kind where one holds one's fire and carefully considers both or more sides and then delivers a carefully-considered judgment, a judgment that one can comfortably back up with the facts. Then there's the other kind, where one simply doesn't take any position at all and hold's ones' fire indefinitely. When one is asked for an opinion, one mumbles or engages in the equivalent of mumbling by delivering a fuzzy or an incoherent opinion.
Unfortunately, our traditional media press corps appears to have gotten very comfortable with the latter kind of pseudo-objectivity that only appears to be objectivity. I call it cowardice.