I just had call to bring up the Quadrant article I had written on Sarah Palin in 2010 – Making Them Listen – and was astonished to find what I had been writing about the American media as far back as then. They were clearly just practising for Donald Trump.
The American Media
There is a malignancy in the American media. It has been captured by Left-liberal opinion to such a phenomenal extent that for those who do not share their perspectives, news shows on the traditional networks have become almost impossible to watch and newspapers an ordeal to read. As with the old Soviet press, one must unscramble and decode what is written to work out what may, or may not, have taken place. Sins of omission abound.
There is still, for all that, an expectation that the media will be objective. None of us come without our biases, but there was nevertheless an imperative at one time to try to present the news straight without embedding analysis and personal opinion within the story. Or maybe that is how it looked to me and it is my own opinions that have changed over the years. It is perhaps I who have drifted away from mainstream newspaper opinion while the media is as biased as it ever was.
But still, has there ever been a case quite the same as Sarah Palin’s? And what makes the case all that much more instructive is that her arrival almost exactly parallels the arrival at centre stage of Barack Obama. Whatever one might say about the fitness of Sarah Palin for the Vice-Presidency might just as easily be said about Obama, who was running to be the actual President. Indeed, on almost any of the criteria that one might choose on an objective basis—executive experience, decisiveness, known track record of sound decision making—Sarah Palin comes out ahead. You might like Obama’s aim to “spread the wealth around” or to end the war in Iraq, but there was nothing from his history that would have provided solid evidence that he would be capable of delivering on what he promised.
Politics, like any contact sport, is a much more difficult practice than you might think from watching the pros. The ones who get to the top and stay there have been tested to their utter limits in a proving ground that few can survive. Obama somehow got to the very top without really having had to fight such battles along the way. In large measure he can thank the American media for that. Whatever form of testing examination they might have given to Obama during his run for the President just never happened. He remains a mystery man to this day. Just try to find out his university results. It’s easy to get Sarah Palin’s, impossible to find Obama’s. Why that is I do not know.
Anyway, whatever lack of scrutiny there was of Obama, the media certainly made up for with Sarah Palin. For most of those the media wish to destroy, there is plenty of time. But with the American election imminent—the time between the nomination and the election being less than three months—the need for a proper and thorough character assassination became more urgent. It began on day one, never eased off until after the election was over, and has not ended to this day. The focus on the former vice-presidential candidate and former Governor of Alaska, who is now a private citizen, has been unrelenting.
This business with Sarah Palin having written a few notes on the palm of her hand before speaking to a major gathering—the equivalent to what someone with pockets in his clothes might do on the back of an envelope—is quite instructive. The media in the USA clearly have no shame, nor an apparent sense of irony. Not to have roasted Obama for his addiction to the teleprompter shows a leniency that would never have been extended to anyone on the other side—imagine if George W. Bush never spoke without having nameless others beaming thoughts into his head. It really does speak of someone not in command of his facts or his thoughts and who needs others to feed him directives to keep on track.
Meanwhile Sarah Palin writes a few notes on her hand and the media treats her as if she were a brainless nong, apparently demonstrating an incompetence well beneath that of Obama and his teleprompter. Does the media not think anyone will notice? Do they not even notice it themselves? It is easy to understand Sarah Palin’s take on the media: “What a bunch of buffoons”. How extraordinary it is to observe all this from the outside as the rest of us do, but how much more extraordinary it must be to be the one in the middle of such maddening criticism that never seems to come to an end.
It’s only gotten worse, and is impossible to see how it might ever get better.