This is a post about politics and how the media reports it. If you hate the topic, move on. I’m stuck at home today because my back hurts so much I can’t drive in to teach…. I’m in pain, and Darvocet, Vicodin, etc., aren’t making a dent. I’m in a bad mood.
Here’s a recent article from a partisan columnist on the media reaction to our first female Speaker of the House. Some of you will recoil in horror at the very mention of the columnist’s name, so I won’t mention it here. You can click the link if you want to. But if you do, I dare you to read the entire article, make it past the partisan perspective, and consider the point.
In the past week, there are 476 documents on Nexis heralding the magnificent achievement of Nancy Pelosi becoming the FIRST WOMAN speaker of the House.
I thought we had moved beyond such multicultural milestones.
The media yawned when Condoleezza Rice became the first black woman secretary of state (and when Lincoln Chaffee became the first developmentally disabled senator).
There were only 77 documents noting that Rice was the first black woman to be the secretary of state, and half of them were issues of Jet, Essence, Ebony or Black Entrepreneur magazine.
But when Nancy Pelosi—another Democrat who married a multimillionaire—achieves the minor distinction of becoming the first female speaker of the House, The New York Times acts like she’s invented cold fusion.
There were two major articles breathlessly reporting Pelosi’s magnificent achievement as first female speaker and an op-ed by Bob Herbert, titled “Ms. Speaker and Other Trends.” Beatifying Pelosi as “the most powerful woman ever to sit in Congress,” Herbert began: “Sometimes you can actually feel the winds of history blowing.” There was a major Times profile of Pelosi, gushing that Pelosi was “on the brink of becoming the first female speaker.” (Isn’t she just the most independent little gal?)
The problem is obvious: the real enthusiasm of many for gender and racial equity is actually just enthusiasm for the left in general. Some of us have said this for a long time, and been called racists, bigots, and this-and-that-phobes, it being a popular pastime of the left to hurl epithets when no other response comes to mind. I’m sure that many readers will believe themselves free of this partisan taint in their pure love of egalitarianism. I even hope it’s true.
But it’s safe to say a couple of things:
1) No lefty columnist will report the same facts about the coverage and opinion on the new Speaker. It’s going to be pretty hard to spin them counterclockwise… so they’ll just ignore it.
2) The left (as ably represented by the main stream media) seems unable to give credit when its political bête noire achieves significant things (in the eyes of the left), like a more gender/racial balanced governing team.
Why does this matter? Because if you get most of your information from the self-appointed mouthpieces of the left, you may not have considered just how little recongnition the left gives when people acheive the very things the left claims to want. The left won’t be pointing this out to you.
So, here’s a new standard to consider: whenever the left stops yelling about something, and the right is in a position of relative power, it probably means that the goals of the left have been achieved, and they just don’t want to give credit. Instead, they’ll wait till the left is in a position of relative power again… and then give themselves the credit.
Prediction: we are NOW in a period of essentially full employment, in the midst of a very healthy economy, by virtually any indicator. That is, unemployment is the lowest it has been for a long time, and virtually any semi-presentable person who wants a job can find one. The media had very little to say about that fact during this election cycle. It would appear that sometimes “it’s not the economy, stupid”. Look for the media to be giving credit for low unemployment to the policies of the new Democratic congress in about, oh, a year or two. Unless, of course, unemployment goes UP in reaction to the proposed national minimum wage legislation (for which there is historical precedent)… in which case, of course, it will be Bush’s fault… even though he’s signaled a willingness to sign a minimum wage bill (proving once again that he is not actually a “conservative”).
None of this is to defend race or gender bigotry in any way. So don’t go there. I would like to know if anyone has a different explanation for the imbalance in media reportage (a little French for the folks) than the one offered here…..