Respect and deference

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

By: Brian Steffen

After my rant in class yesterday about why Republicans seem to feel that they get the shaft from the press more than Democrats think they get (although they think they get it plenty), we find a John McCain aide explaining the same idea when he expounds the campaign's philosophy on how it will permit Sarah Palin to interact with the media.

"Why would we want to want to throw Sarah Palin into a cycle of piranhas called the news media that have nothing better to ask questions about than her personal life and her children?" campaign manager Rick Davis asked the Washington Post yesterday. "Until we feel like the news media is going to treat with some level of respect and deference, I think it would be foolhardy to put her out into that kind of environment." (Emphasis mine.)

The respect-and-deference card is a great one to play if your goal is to energize your base by stoking resentment against the press as one of those snotty "elitist" groups. It's a tried-and-true campaign strategy. And the sad thing is that it works.

What's the veep hopeful's take on oil independence? If you're a journalist, don't ask too probing of a question, because it shows your bias. 

How about Iraq? Don't be so unpatriotic as to question what the candidate has called a "task from God." 

How about her membership in a church that considers her efforts to expand Alaska pipeline to be an expression of God's will? You must really hate ordinary people to ask questions of such temerity.

Winston Churchill put it best a long while ago: "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." When journalists are told to sit down and be quiet and let the pros take over — and a large swath of the voting public agrees — then we're in trouble.


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