Posted by: mutantpoodle | December 15, 2008

Weapons of Mass Distraction

I am not the only one who is somewhat, er, disappointed by the media’s treatment of the “connection” between the Rod Blagojevich corruption scandal in Illinois and Barack Obama. The stories are all roughly the same: they start by noting that there’s no evidence Obama did something wrong, but Obama has to prove it, or else. There are too many links to count – I challenge you to find a left-leaning blogger who isn’t dumping on the media for their breathless scandal-mongering. I’ll give you John Cole, because – well, you’ll see:

John King, on CNN, just proclaimed that there is no allegation of wrong-doing in the Blagojevich case regarding the Obama team, but that he better prove he is innocent and get it right because he said he would have an open and transparent administration.

Got it? Unless Obama proves he didn’t do anything wrong, when he hasn’t been accused of any wrong doing, there will be hell to pay.

Now, no one has accused John King of buggering young children after luring them into his van down by the river with promises of candy and then feeding them rum balls and Jesus Juice before repeatedly sodomizing them, but he better prove this is not the case or there will be big problems for King and CNN. What did Wolf Blitzer know about this? It would be irresponsible to not speculate about this….

*** Update ***

John King is from Idaho, which makes me wonder if he has ever had a tryst with Larry Craig, who is also from Idaho. Don’t you see the obvious connection? They are both from Idaho, just like Obama and Balgojevich are BOTH FROM CHICAGO. It is right there in front of your eyes, folks! Will John King be able to prove he has never had sex with Larry Craig in a bathroom stall? We need answers!

Indeed. My morning sample was on NPR, where Cokie Roberts opined with Renee Montagne about the effect of the Blagojevich scandal on Obama. After noting that John McCain had suggested that “with all due respect” (how do you say fuck you in Washington? With all due respect) to the RNC, now wasn’t the time to be stirring this up, and further noting that while there were contacts between Rahm Emmanuel and the Blagojevich office (including Blagojevich himself), none seemed “untoward”, Fitzgerald had gone out of his way to say that the Obama team was not implicated in the scandal, and that Blagojevich himself seemed displeased with Obama, Cokie Roberts couldn’t help herself:

Montagne: at the very least, though, Cokie, the scandal seems to have become at least something of a distraction for Mr. Obama?

Roberts: That’s certainly true. And look – Barack Obama is somebody who likes things well-planned, smooth…he likes the script to go according to script. And clearly the whole transition has been knocked off by this whole scandal story.


I will certainly concede that the press has been knocked off the transition by this whole scandal story. But Obama? I’m not seeing it. Obama managed to squeeze in a national security meeting today, before announcing his energy and environmental picks at a 5PM (EST) news conference, at which only 1/3 of the questions were about the Blagojevich scandal. (Asked, sadly, by NPR’s Brian Naylor.)

It seems to me that Obama isn’t distracted at all, and if people would just remember back to the campaign, they’d be able to figure it out. I’d say that the scandal is blocking Obama’s message somewhat, but most of what he’s doing nowis getting himself ready to be President. If he’s spent more than an hour or two on this personally (outside of press conference questions) I’d be shocked.

I think what a lot of folks haven’t figured out (Republicans to their eternal detriment) is that Obama, for his lack of executive experience, is an incredibly effective and efficient executive. He know his role; he knows when to step in; and he knows when to delegate. Do you really think the President-elect was canvassing his staff to find out who had talked to Rod Blagojevich (or his staff) and what about?

This is a symptom of the myopia of the media – if they’re talking about something, that must be what everybody else is talking about. Well, I think people are intrigued by the Blagojevich scandal – it’s certainly juicy enough, and it seems to me that the good people of Illinois may have elected a sociopath as their chief executive – but people are worried about their homes, their jobs, their health insurance, two wars…well, you get the idea. And I think the reason Barack Obama’s favorability is pushing 70% is that they believe that’s what he’s focused on, too.

There will be more breathless stupidity to come, but it seems unlikely that the media can submerge a critical time in our history to bright shiny objects.

Years ago, the news director of the Providence, Rhode Island NBC affiliate explained to me that news was now “infotainment.” (He is no longer there, although that isn’t why.) As a ratings grabber, that makes sense: if people want to be entertained; entertain them.

These days people want to be informed. They know it, and Obama knows it.

The only people who don’t are the people who allegedly do the informing.

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