Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.
They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are “conservative positions.”
They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation’s problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don’t have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.
More systematically, the press believes that fluid narratives in coverage are better than static storylines; that new things are more interesting than old things; that close races are preferable to loose ones; and that incumbents are destined for dethroning, somehow.
The press, by and large, does not accept President Bush’s justifications for the Iraq war — in any of its WMD, imminent threat, or evil-doer formulations. It does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly be wary of multilateral institutions or friendly, sophisticated European allies.
It does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy by stimulating summer spending.
It remains fixated on the unemployment rate.
It believes President Bush is “walking a fine line” with regards to the gay marriage issue, choosing between “tolerance” and his “right-wing base.”
It still has a hard time understanding how, despite the drumbeat of conservative grass-top complaints about overspending and deficits, President Bush’s base remains extremely and loyally devoted to him — and it looks for every opportunity to find cracks in that base.
Of course, the swirling Joe Wilson and National Guard stories play right to the press’s scandal bias — not to mention the bias towards process stories (grand juries produce ENDLESS process!).
The worldview of the dominant media can be seen in every frame of video and every print word choice that is currently being produced about the presidential race.
That means the President’s communications advisers have a choice:
Try to change the storyline and the press’ attitude, or try to win this election without changing them.