Saturday, May 12, 2007

Media Matters' Jamison Foser Asks: Why Are Only Progressive Politicians Accused of Hypocrisy

In this post by Jamison Foser of Media Matters asks why are only progressive politicians like John Edwards tagged by the media as hypocrites while conservative politicians who advocate for the rich are ignored? MCDAC has also wondered about this and we have come to two conclusions.

One is that it is far easier for the media to cover personal issues such as a politician allegedly being "hypocritical" than to cover policy issues. The media justifies this because they say that revealing a politician's personal character tells us how that person will behave in office.

First of all, that is a debatable premise. Bill Clinton obviously had some issues regarding his marriage, which the media explored ad naseum. Yet, that didn't stop him from advancing programs that were supported by a huge majority of the American public. Did that fact that Clinton was involved with Jennifer Flowers or, for that matter, Monica Lewinsky, tell us anything about the policies he pursued as president?

Second, the American public cares more about substance than personality. There is a lot of increasing dissatisfaction with the media and a lot of it is driven by the content of today's media. This is true of the news media as it is of the entertainment media.

The other reason why the media focuses on the alleged "hypocrisy" of a politician like John Edwards is that a lot of them make a lot of money and don't want to pay more taxes. We are not talking about people who cover your local city hall. We are talking about the blowhards who pontificate on the cable news shows or who have executive positions in news organizations. These people are doing alright financially. People like Edwards will raise their taxes and, in the process, make them feel guilty about not doing enough to help the poor. It is a common human reaction when someone's positions make you feel guilty to try and tear that person down. Attacking the person for hypocrisy is one way to avoid the issue the person is raising.

So, that's our take on why the media treats progressive politicians one way and conservative politicians another way. It is easier and it protects their financial interests.

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