Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What is the media role in this election?

Quick post! It has been sometime since I commented on the US elections, the primaries was delightfully exhausting and I am still processing the dynamics.

I watched my usual battery of News Channels yesterday and came away with an impression that the new narrative is that Senator Obama is an innocent abroad and naive on foreign policy. This even though quite openly Senator McCain was at the same bulletin stealing his opponents policy clothing by prioritising Afghanistan as security focus and increasing troops there. None in the media pointed out that if the candidates were political pundits, Obama had called Iraq right, his point on attacking Al Qeida in Pakistan and challenging President Musharraf efforts as an ally that Mccain called naive also turned quite right, his call on making Afghanistan the real war of National Security also turning out to be quite accurate. On the other hand McCain appears right on the surge in Iraq working because it has reduced but not eliminated violence. Looking at this record how can anyone be the more savvy of the two. Even though i do not agree with Senator Obama on Zimbabwe it is his voice that is on record, the same applies on his view of America budget deficit and its security implications. Is it that the media cannot actually analyse fine points of policy or it chooses no too? For me racism as an explanation is to easy , a low hanging fruit .

In fact CNN and BBC perhaps the more worldly news networks actually locate Obama as struggling to define his Foreign policy pitch even though his major speech was given a subsidiary tag to Senator Mccain's speech in response. I thought this was itself just an issue of my timing in watching the bulletin until this morning. My usual quick check of the polls in showed the ABCnews/ Washington Post polls as Obama up 3% points on Mccain. If you do read the Washington Post today you will see it as a 8% lead. Which is true?

The reality is that they are both true but Real Clear Politics a blog in Time magazine always chooses the most negative spin on any Obama situation since the primaries. 8% is the gap when looking at all registered voters but 3% is the difference on likely voters ( a more subjective test). In the same vein CNN reported that Mccain does better with voters 47% to Obama's 45% on Iraq in another poll without saying that this is actually within the 3% point margin of error. Add this to the so called satire in the New Yorker you start seeing that the corporate media has an angle it is playing and it is not 'fair and balanced' although they are all yet to go as far as Fox News in being totally without credibility where Obama is concerned.

My warning to you all before Senator Obama morphs into Robert Mugabe choose your media poison with the garden variety scepticism fully at touching distance. It is not the broader reporting but the sting is the spin.


John Maszka said...

The trick is not giving the media anything so sensational to exploit in the first place. Unfortunately, our politicians have not been too sophisticated in that regard.

Taking the war to Pakistan is perhaps the most foolish thing America can do. Obama is not the first to suggest it, and we already have sufficient evidence of the potentially negative repercussions of such an action.

For example: On January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area. In a nuclear state like Pakistan, this was not only unfortunate, it was outright stupid. Pakistan has 160 million Arabs (better than half of the population of the entire Arab world). Pakistan also has the support of China and a nuclear arsenal.

I predict that America’s military action in the Middle East will enter the canons of history alongside Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Holocaust, in kind if not in degree. The Bush administration’s war on terror marks the age in which America has again crossed a line that many argue should never be crossed. Call it preemption, preventive war, the war on terror, or whatever you like; there is a sense that we have again unleashed a force that, like a boom-a-rang, at some point has to come back to us. The Bush administration argues that American military intervention in the Middle East is purely in self-defense. Others argue that it is pure aggression. The consensus is equally as torn over its impact on international terrorism. Is America truly deterring future terrorists with its actions? Or is it, in fact, aiding the recruitment of more terrorists?

The last thing the United States should do at this point and time is to violate yet another state’s sovereignty. Beyond being wrong, it just isn't very smart. We all agree that slavery in this country was wrong; as was the decimation of the Native American populations. We all agree that the Holocaust and several other acts of genocide in the twentieth century were wrong. So when will we finally admit that American military intervention in the Middle East is wrong as well?

Onibudo said...

John, This is an extremely thoughtful and well considered position that I happen to agree with in principle but there is a problem. If Senator Obama does not offer a warrior alternative in the dubiously named War on Terror he will not be the President of the United States. His argument or my interpretation is that it is better to target those who attacked on 9/11 wherever they are than the 100s of thousands lives lost in Iraq. It is only a slightly more benign position than what is on offer from the other side.

I think it will never come to what you suggest as I believe the other point Obama was making is that Musharraf is no dependable friend but part of the usual alliance of our 'bad guy'. I speculate that there will be a different approach on winning election which might include negotiation with the Taliban and betrayal of Bin Laden. Remember how the Northern Alliance was paid to move the Taliban out.

Your comment however makes me pause for thought again about the law of unforeseen consequences. Thanks