Wednesday :: Mar 10, 2004

That "Lib'rul" Media - There They Go Again!

by pessimist

I was reading this poll today, and was struck by two things. I'll take the obvious one first.

Since World War II, presidents have had their approval ratings by party affiliation checked regularly, as this current poll shows. Looking carefully at the numbers, one discovers the obvious fact: we have become much more polarized over the years.

President Republican Democrat Gap
Truman 26% 50% 24
Eisenhower 95% 52% 43
Johnson 67% 87% 20
Nixon 83% 39% 44
Ford 73% 36% 37
Carter 25% 55% 30
Reagan 87% 32% 55
Bush I 67% 17% 50
Clinton 23% 79% 56
Bush II 91% 17% 74

OK, so this software doesn't do neat tables! Live with it!

You look at the opposite party approval polling and note that regardless of who was in the White House, the other party tended toward favoring the president in office, except for Harry Truman - until Richard Nixon.

Truman is something of a special case, because he did something no president since has done - he nationalized an industry - the railroads. In taking this act, he went against organized labor, which was at that time the base of the Democratic Party. His act cost him dearly.

Since Nixon's adaptation of policies designed to polarize the strength once enjoyed by the Democratic Party into separate camps over certain racial attitudes, the party in power receives less than 50% approval from the other party members. This isn't helped when, as in Carter's case, there is barely a majority of his own party supporting him. And notice just how polarized the country becomes when the president's last name begins with 'B'.

That was the obvious fact.

The not-so-obvious fact is that in the discussion of the article, there is no coverage of Kerry, his strategy, or of his campaign goals. But USAToday DOES use about one-third of their column inches discussing the Bush campaign strategy designed to attract independents:

Because Democrats are a hard sell for Bush, an appeal to independent voters is important for him. In the USA TODAY poll, 41% of independents approved of the job he is doing. Three Bush campaign advisers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he will try to deal with the polarized electorate by:

•Making few new proposals meant to satisfy conservatives.

•Emphasizing tax cuts and other issues that appeal to voters in the middle.

•Working to ensure that loyal Republicans turn out to vote.

•Depicting Democratic candidate John Kerry as too far to the left for mainstream voters.

The economy and Iraq may yet be pivotal, said Robert McClure, a political scientist at Syracuse University. "Bush is going to have to have a very serious talk with the American people about Iraq and why we are there, and he's going to have to have it sooner rather than later," McClure said.

Note the Bush campaign strategy points above? Sure, this isn't FOX, but I'd hardly call this 'fair and balanced' reporting. Such 'coverage' doesn't give you anything but the GOP party line to 'let you decide'.

What about Kerry's positions on how to cover Bush as a prevaricator, an economic bumbler, a divider, a coward, etc.? What is Kerry going to have to do to reach independents, Mr. McClure? You don't say! You Don't Say! YOU DON'T SAY!!!

This is the sort of media coverage we bloggers are best positioned to thwart, as we can't rely on the 'mainstream' media to do so.

Don't fear the media - BE the media
- Jello Biafra at Kent State University

pessimist :: 6:27 PM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!