We Got Your 'Liberal Media' Hanging
The supposed "liberal media" is often desperate to prove that it has no personal affection for liberals or Democrats and especially those who are both. Eric Boehlert over at Daily Kos detailed how the press paid less attention to 2018's Blue Wave than it did to 2010's Tea Party "revolution."
Last year, during Trump's first midterm election cycle, ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News aired 274 minutes on the topic, according to monitoring done by television news researcher Andrew Tyndall, who recently emailed his annual findings to followers. But during Obama's first midterm election cycle in 2010, the same network newscasts aired an astounding 666 minutes when tea party activists rallied against the Democratic president and helped the GOP take control of the House.
666! Spooky. How is the media less pumped up about midterms that elect a historic number of kickass women versus midterms that sent to DC a historic number of racist kooks? It's also not just the quantity of coverage but the quality. After the 2010 "shellacking," most news outlets were quick to write Barack Obama's political obituary. The New Republic declared in November 2010 that the midterm results "amply illustrated Obama's political failure." This is a relatively liberal publication. More conservative-leaning media just suggested that Obama quit already. It was all over. "The facts" and America had spoken.
Conversely, the media had started to declare the blue wave a bust in the middle of election night. (As did your Wonkette, but she was drunk on imagining taking back Texas.) LZ Granderson wrote a sobering op-ed for CNN the following day:
Yes, the party took the House but the blue wave was not the tsunami party leadership had hoped it would be. This is in large part because the Democratic Party is still searching for its post 2008 identity.
But if the party is to build momentum from the 2018 midterm, and not just tread water, leadership must spend more time defining what it is about and less time vilifying what it isn't. After all, people don't eat steak because it's not tofu. They eat steak because it's steak.
This sort of sad sack coverage was typical, even though Democrats gained 40 seats (maybe 41 after a non-fixed election in North Carolina). More attention was also paid to losses in long shot races (Georgia and Texas) than to significant victories in Wisconsin and Michigan. Kyrsten Sinema's flipping of an Arizona Senate seat was met with collective shrugs. She's awesome, though, even if she might be our queer, fashion-forward Joe Manchin.
Brett Stephens, who the New York Times employs for some reason, cautioned that the midterms were a "warning" for Democrats to reach out more to Republicans and the "other America" (i.e. white people). No one wrote pieces like that after the 2010 rout because it would've been just as stupid. The media consistently paints GOP victories as actual victories and Democratic ones as pyrrhic at best.
It's also not just elections. After Michael Cohen rolled on Donald Trump during his testimony to the House Oversight Committee, the usual suspects in punditry went on a "both sides" tear. Professional eye-roll generator Chris Cillizza produced a bipartisan list of "winners" and "losers" from the public hearing. The president's personal lawyer testifies that he's a racist and a crook, but Cillizza wants to split the difference and slime the Muslim lady. He even offers a pat on the back to Jim Jordan, who behaved like Tom Hagen defending Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II.
Democrats defeated Republicans nationwide on Election Day by almost 9 million votes, the largest margin since Watergate. It's an unqualified ass whooping that the media has spent the past few months qualifying. Conservatives are never going to respect the press or even challenge a president who openly attacks journalists. We're all better off if the media stopped trying to appeal to them. They were never interested in "fairness" anyway.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.