Sunday, June 1, 2008

Addicts Always Lie to Their Pushers

I have always loved that line which New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has used several times as his way of explaining why the Bush administration behaves so deferentially to the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia--the home of almost all of the 9/11 terrorists and the largest funder of anti-American terror in the Middle East. Friedman says it's all because we are addicted to their oil--a diagnosis that is actually shared by Bush himself.

It seems that this is also the reason why the news media in general and the cable networks in particular continue to pretend that Hillary Clinton is still a viable candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. They are addicted to watching this particular white woman and black man engage in this political cage fight and they just don't want it to end.

As I stated in a previous post, the contest ended months ago when Barack Obama ran the table on 11 straight primaries and built a huge lead which has continued to grow up until this day.

Nevertheless, perhaps worried that they will be branded as sexist, the media has essentially accepted without question the assertions of the Clinton campaign that the game is still on and there is still a pathway to a Clinton victory.

Let's briefly look out how outrageous those claims are.

Yesterday, Clinton supporter Harold Ickes complained that the Democratic National Committee had "hijacked" delegates from Hillary in Michigan. Ickes is a member of the party's rules committee and was there late last year when that committee decided to strip Michigan and Florida of ALL their delegates for breaking party rules and ruled that any primaries held in those states before February 5 would not count. Neither Clinton nor Obama campaigned in those states and Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. Those were the rules of engagement and both candidates knew and accepted them.

There was no complaint from the Clinton camp when the rules were set. Hillary herself said in an interview that Michigan didn't matter and that "the result there won't count."

The Clinton folks also said then that the nomination was "all about the delegates" and it was clear that under the rules, the candidate with a majority of the delegates would win.

Now that Obama is ahead by all measures, the Clinton folks claim that it's really the "popular vote" that matters and that Clinton is ahead in that category. But she's only ahead if she is credited with all the votes she got in Florida and Michigan and Obama is counted with zero votes in Michigan since his name wasn't on the ballot. It also disregards all the caucus states like Washington, Iowa and others which Obama won by a large margin.

Now the Clintons are pointing to Puerto Rico as a key state even though Puerto Rico has no votes in the November election.

It's disappointing but not suprising that the Clinton people are making these claims. Like everyone else, just a few months ago they expected Hillary to win the nomination easily and they don't want to give up.

What is a little shocking is the manner in which the news media has taken the bait and not only pretends the race is still up for grabs but also actually buys into the Clinton vocabulary about the popular vote and refuses to report the real news which is that Obama has won the nomination.

As I try to figure out what's going on here, I think of Tom Friedman's line.

Addicts never tell the truth to their pushers.

The media--and Fox, CNN, and MSNBC in partiuclar--are addicted to the Clinton-Obama race. They can't tell the truth about it because they don't want it to end. For months now, all three of the cable news networks have devoted more than 80% of their prime news coverage time in the late afternoon and early evening to the campaign and 20% to everything else that's going on in the country and the world.

John McCain gets mentioned occasionally, but it's mainly been all about Barack (and Michelle, Reverend Wright, and Father Pfleger) and Hillary (and Bill and Chelsea)like a great big addictive soap opera.

In addition, it's been an economic windfall for the networks and dozens of "experts" who used to be on the air for 10 minutes every other week or so but are now on for hours at a time every single day.

They talk and talk and talk about the same things over again even though there is really nothing to talk about. They all talk about Hillary being ahead in the popular vote even though the popular vote has no bearing on nominee selection under the rules. It would be like say that a basketball team that was beaten by 20 points should really be declared the winner because it had more assists or rebounds.

They argue about whether the race is really over or it there is anything that Clinton can do to win the nomination even though there has been no way for months.

As I said, It's not suprising that the Clintons are doing whatever they can to stay alive in the race. It's really shocking that the media is playing along so blatantly and shamelessly. It is yet another indication of how entertainment and celebrity creation has replaced journalism on television. As a former TV news reporter it makes me feel sad--and old.

Like all addicts I guess they need to keep their pushers happy.

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