Bashing CNN Just Never Gets Old…

December 1st, 2007at 12:32pm Posted by Eli

Tim Rutten totally nails CNN in his LAT media column:

THE United States is at war in the Middle East and Central Asia, the economy is writhing like a snake with a broken back, oil prices are relentlessly climbing toward $100 a barrel and an increasing number of Americans just can’t afford to be sick with anything that won’t be treated with aspirin and bed rest.

So, when CNN brought the Republican presidential candidates together this week for what is loosely termed a “debate,” what did the country get but a discussion of immigration, Biblical inerrancy and the propriety of flying the Confederate flag?

(…)

Selecting a president is, more than ever, a life and death business, and a news organization that consciously injects itself into the process, as CNN did by hosting Wednesday’s debate, incurs a special responsibility to conduct itself in a dispassionate and, most of all, disinterested fashion. When one considers CNN’s performance, however, the adjectives that leap to mind are corrupt and incompetent.

(…)

…CNN chose to devote the first 35 minutes of this critical debate to a single issue — immigration. Now, if that leaves you scratching your head, it’s probably because you’re included in the 96% of Americans who do not think immigration is the most important issue confronting this country. We’ve got a pretty good fix concerning what’s on the American mind right now, because the nonpartisan and highly reliable Pew Center has been regularly polling people since January on the issues that matter most to them. In fact, the center’s most recent survey was conducted in the days leading up to Wednesday’s debate.

HERE’S what Pew found: By an overwhelming margin, Americans think the war in Iraq is the most important issue facing the United States, followed by the economy, healthcare and energy prices. In fact, if you lump the war into a category with terrorism and other foreign policy issues, 40% of Americans say foreign affairs are their biggest concern in this election cycle. If you do something similar with all issues related to the economy, 31% list those questions as their most worrisome issue….

So, why did CNN make immigration the keystone of this debate? What standard dictated the decision to give that much time to an issue so remote from the majority of voters’ concerns? The answer is that CNN’s most popular news-oriented personality, Lou Dobbs, has made opposition to illegal immigration and free trade the centerpiece of his neonativist/neopopulist platform. In fact, Dobbs led into Wednesday’s debate with a good solid dose of immigrant bashing. His network is in a desperate ratings battle with Fox News and, in a critical prime-time slot, with MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. So, what’s good for Dobbs is good for CNN.

In other words, CNN intentionally directed the Republicans’ debate to advance its own interests. Make immigration a bigger issue and you’ve made a bigger audience for Dobbs.

That’s corruption, and it’s why the Republican candidates had to spend more than half an hour “debating” an issue on which their differences are essentially marginal — and, more important, why GOP voters had to sit and wait, mostly in vain, for the issues that really concern them to be discussed.

I agree with Rutten for the most part, but he’s thinking too small. CNN isn’t trying to make immigration a huge election issue to help Lou Dobbs, it’s trying to make it a huge issue to help the Republicans. It’s pretty clear by now that immigration is this election’s gay marriage, where the Republicans demagogue and demonize and make it suddenly an all-important, life-or-death issue to bash Democrats over the head with.

Of course, the risk here, which CNN and the Republicans seem oblivious to, is that there are a lot more Hispanics than there are gays, so there will be a lot more furious anti-Republican votes this time around. Maybe the GOP is just really confident in their ability to suppress Latino votes.

Entry Filed under: Elections,Immigration,Media,Politics,Republicans,TV,Wankers


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