The media may be fluffing Obama’s pillow, only to smother him with it. On the topic of a couple recent, high profile endorsements, the media’s narrative is quite definitely pro-McCain.
Regarding endorsements by Hagee and Farrakhan, rather than reporting that each candidate might have a “cross to bear” with the support of unsavory religious characters, the corporate media instead has clearly and inaccurately distinguished between the Hagee endorsement of McCain, and the Farakhan endorsement of Obama. Although Hagee is current and dangerous, and Farrakhan is pretty much a relic from the ’80s, the Farrakhan endorsement has drawn much more media fire.
Interestingly, the media makes sense of both endorsements by making use of a pro-McCain narrative.
The pro-McCain narrative frames Obama as anti-American (doesn’t know words to national anthem, doesn’t wear flag lapel pin), and McCain as a patriot. It paints McCain as pro-Israel and Obama as a Muslin and anti-semitic. Funny thing for a media that is supposedly “asking Obama if he needs a pillow.”
Let’s start with Hagee’s endorsement of McCain. Hagee is a Christian evangelical who has been denounced for anti-catholic and anti-gay statements. He is also known for his “life and death” support of the state of Israel, which complicates matters in American politics. His endorsement of McCain was accompanied by no media outcry for McCain to reject or denounce Hagee’s support.
In fact, McCain has said he would neither denounce or reject the endorsement, and the media has left it at that.
Next, Farrakhan, (Nation of Islam), recently endorsed Obama. Farrakhan is known for having led the “million man march” back in the 80’s, and making ugly anti-semitic comments. Farrakhan has not been heard from much in recent years. During the Obama-Clinton debate at Cleveland State last week, however, moderator Tim Russert dusted off relics from some of Farakhan’s old speeches and tried to stick em up Obama’s nose. Obama demurred, but then after some badgering by Russert and Clinton, he rejected the Farrakhan endorsement.
For much of the campaign, the media has implied that Obama’s support for Israel is soft, that his conciliatory rhetoric might belie a pro-palestinian stance. Probably a good chance the media will continue to push this narrative line come this fall.
On the issue of being endorsed by bigoted religious figures, the media has placed Obama on the defensive to prove he is not a Farrakhan shill, or in other words, an anti Israel, anti-semitic candidate for president.
Clearly, McCain has had the softer ride. McCain was not asked whether he is an anti-Catholic, anti-gay shill, or for that matter if he agrees with Hagee’s view that that the Jews would need to perish before the “second coming.”
The battle ahead?
According to the feb 29, Rosen’s blog in Haaretz, the McCain campaign is stocking up on materials that would try to connect Obama’s opposition to the War in Iraq with an anti-Israel position.
And the media is likely to give McCain a pass. The recent post on Drudge showing Obama in ceremonial Somali garb (take during a visit two years ago), and the over-played Cunningham–Barack Hussein Obama– comments at an Ohio McCain rally, allow the media to raise doubts about Obama’s patriotism, support for Israel and by association, anti-semitism.
This nasty, clever swiftboating strategy not only falls at McCain’s feet, but must also be seen as an active media construct. First, it is a nasty cynical attempt to play on the fears of jewish voters. Any the media is complicit. The media continues to believe that John McCain is not capable of such dirty politics (evidence to the contrary is dismissed. Just last week the corporate media turned a nearly blind eye to McCain’s being in bed (figuratively?) with Vicki Iseman and corporate lobbyists.
The media cannot assist two teflon candidates in a 0-sum race. So far, it’s McCain.
Farakhan provides an all too easy cudgel (he has few defenders these days), while Hagee’s professed (but highly suspect) love of Israel gives him a pass to spew all the hate he desires.
Hagee’s love for Israel has nothing to do with support for the Jewish people. Quite the opposite. His support is premised upon the eventual and utimate demise of the Jews (precursor to second coming), which ought to make any pro Israel stance highly toxic and worthy of intense media scrutiny.
Regrettably, intense media scrutiny of the likes of Hagee is not likely until America’s post-911 era of fear has run its course, and the media decides it time to move beyond the baiting. Until then, the pro-McCain narrative will continue to abide superficial odes to patriotism and deeply engrained anti-muslim demonology.