The Campaign Spot

Has the Mainstream Media’s Bias Gotten Into Our Own Thinking?

A reader notes my (only mildly tongue-in-cheek) suggestion that next time Sarah Palin is asked what newspapers and magazines she reads, she should respond “National Review”:

Because then the MSM will dig up every controversial article NR ever wrote and trumpet it as her position. They would have done that with any substantial periodical she named. Do you really think she couldn’t come up with anything? It sounded like a very deliberate evasion.

Indeed. But I think this is one of the things that has gotten Palin (and a lot of other Republicans) in trouble this cycle. Conservatives observe, point out, denounce, and cry from the rooftops about media bias. It’s there, it’s pervasive, and it’s worse  than ever. They know, when they’re asked a question, that anything that can be taken out of context to look bad will be twisted beyond recognition.
But there is also the danger of persuading yourself that your foes have insurmountable advantages, and are twelve feet tall, etc., and that you always have to behave in a gun-shy manner lest your unstoppable foes get the best of you.
Media bias is a problem. But you can’t let “how is this answer going to get twisted” dominate your thinking. You can’t try to deflect every question with generic and bland mashed potatoes of answers, because then you become defined by those generic and bland mashed potatoes of answers. Among other reasons, I don’t think Sarah Palin’s thinking is reflected in these “mashed potatoes” of answers she’s given to Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson.
If she had said “National Review” and the follow-up had been, “Are you saying you agree with their editorial on drug legalization?”, she would have had an obvious answer of, “No. Do you agree with everything you read in every newspaper, magazine, book and web site you read?”
The McCain campaign’s use of Sarah Palin has turned into the playcalling of Jets coach Eric Mangini when it’s first and goal: They’re playing it way too safe.

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