Buzz Killers

When, in recent history HASN’T the news media made an orgy out of a big story? Or made big stories out of horseshit? Now we have the biggest political story of our lifetimes. So how can any honest, rational person be surprised at how the media, generally speaking, has covered it? How can you expect totally objective journalism when you get most of your journalism from advertising-supported news sources? I mean, are you seriously offended at the sad state of the fourth estate, or just disguising your own bias by taking shots at the messenger and wringing your hands theatrically?

We didn’t need the media to tell us this election and inauguration was huge. But it is huge, and the media covered it that way. So what? We’re only a few decades removed from sanctioned lynchings of blacks in the Deep South, a few decades removed from rampant Jim Crow, and all of the pain and desperation and division that caused. And now a black man – at least, a partially black man – has been elected to the highest political office in the world. Yeah, it probably deserves a tad more fawning than the media typically gives the newest American Idol superstar.

And why, many have asked, was so much more money spent on celebrating this inauguration than previous inaugurations? If you seriously have to ask the question than you’ve been to way too many GOP fundraisers and you’ll never understand why nobody wants to dance with you.

But back to the media, or the Media, a mythological, many-headed beast that eats the livers of anything non-liberal. I’m reading page after page of complaints about the media’s skewed coverage of Obama – in truth, I’ve been reading these screeds since Obama announced he was going to run, back in 1984 or whenever it was. The media, they say with an unfathomable sense of alarm, has been gushing over Obama (going to bed with him, loving him shamelessly, etc.). As if this election and this inauguration struck the fatal blow to objective journalism.

I honestly believe that objective journalism – or the attempt at it – is alive and well within individual journalists. The reporters, writers, editors, photographers and so forth who hunt and gather strive for some semblance of objectivity, though they work with entirely subjective brains in their heads. But to expect some sterling example of Vulcan logic and objectivity from mega-superstar-macro-journalism on your TV is a waste of time. Edward R. Murrow has been dead a long time. Walter Cronkite is really, really old and really, really retired. 

Whatever. Alls I know (and I meant to say ‘Alls’) is, people in Ben Franklin’s day and before complained about a biased press. And as I told my friend Shannon, our descendents – probably reduced to mere heads floating in a life-sustaining liquid solution – also will be complaining about media bias as they float in confined spaces, served by robot slaves.

Look, whether or not you voted for or like Obama – and most of these nit-pickers who have taken a short respite from Rush Limbaugh and Neal Boortz to develop a sudden interest in quality journalism probably did not or do not – this is a big damn story. Let the media have its feeding frenzy, its love affair, its “up close and personal” moment. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. Get over it or change the channel.

Once the last piece of ticker-tape has been swept up and the last hangover headache subsides, it’ll be business as unusual, and I’m excited and hopeful that Obama is the right dude for the job. Not because the media tells me so, or because the media gives him BJs, but because I have a pulse and a memory and an imagination (such as it is). I voted for the man and I’m hoping he does a fabulous job. Talk to me in four-to-eight years, but right now I’m betting on him.

Many of these born-again media experts are the same folks who talk derisively of lemmings following a new political messiah, as if supporters of Obama actually expect him to perform some miracle. Well, OK, he did perform at least one miracle. He put Joe Biden a heartbeat away from the presidency. But beyond that, this set of would-be John Galts, many of whom will happily follow the 19-year-old quarterback of their favorite college football team off a cliff, aren’t sure what bothers them more – the tremendous tide of humanity enthusiastically supporting Obama, or the media that had the audacity to aim its cameras in that direction. These particular detractors are close cousins to the turkeys who said, “see, told ya so,” when Booth shot Lincoln.

Like it or not, this is a big deal. The powerful emotional surge associated with this transition of leadership from a bumbling, divisive Texan to a new leader with great potential for bringing people together (and a gigantic plate of problems to dive into) will wear off and all of the party poopers can go back to being miserable and mundane without being reminded by the nasty, biased old media (and those annoying Obamaniacs) that incredible things are possible. Soon, the media will again be preoccupied with bug-eyed runaway brides and all will be right with the world.

Some things, though, take a little bit longer to wear off, which might explain some of the extended sense of hope and enthusiasm among the great unwashed. Believe it or not, these things predate TiVo and CNN and Fox News and a million channels of drivel.

A lot of people who went through the difficult struggle for Civil Rights are still alive, and their children and grandchildren weren’t raised in a vacuum. Many of these people are rejoicing over what they believe is a sign of hope and optimism. They’ve earned that, I think. We all have.

And I’m only guessing here, but the pain and raw emotional residue left over from the bad times is still pretty thick in places. So it will probably take some more time before that residue dissipates and levels off to the point where we can all sit back together and watch the human parade with the sense of detachment and smug cynicism the wet blankets are advocating.

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