John Harwood, for the second time in eight days, is just amazed that a black man might be president. Or more specifically this week, he's amazed that lots of whites are going to vote for Obama:
Remarkably, Mr. Obama, the first black major party presidential nominee, trails among whites by less than Democratic nominees normally do.
Seems to us the press has spent an inordinate amount of time covering the issue of race in this campaign, even though the candidates themselves rarely discuss it. (Surrogates, especially on the right, are another story, of course.) And when covering the campaign and race, the press has habitually couched the issues with a sense of total astonishment; that it was "remarkable," as Harwood put it, that Barack Obama would win huge support from white voters.
That, despite the fact that polls have shown for at least a year that Obama stood a very good chance of winning the general election. Why still the sense of wonder on Election Day?
So goes the latest theory being embraced by conservatives as they toss darts at a board trying to come up with their official liberal media theory to explain John McCain's possible loss.
Former Bob Dole flack Douglas MacKinnon hypes the minority journalist theory in a recent liberal-media-bias essay posted online at the New York Times:
The pressure within the news business to diversify and be politically correct means more minorities, women and young people are being hired. And young and ethnically diverse reporters and editors go easier on candidates who look more like them, are closer to their age or represent their ideal of a presidential candidate.
Ugh (as my palm hits my forehead). First, who exactly is doing all this news business hiring? In case MacKinnon hasn't heard, news orgs are desperately shedding thousands of jobs each month, which means there is no new flood of young, minority hires being made anywhere in the industry.
Second, the idea that minority journalists, and specifically African-Americans, boast a significant presence in newsrooms across the country and now dictate political coverage is absurd.
Third, even more comical is that notion that African-Americans dominate senior, decision-making positions within the press, and that's why it allegedly swooned for Obama.
It's as if opiniators in print, on TV, and online were scientists hoping for a big natural explosion, and when it didn't happen, or not enough of it happened to feed the media kitty, they interfered with the experiment they were observing by enriching the uranium themselves.
On his Cincinnati-based radio show, Bill Cunningham asked a fictional Jewish character voiced by a fellow WLW-AM host: "Did you hear about this Khalidi tape where Obama is toasting a guy who wants to gas and fry Jews? ... This Obama guy loves the PLO. Can't you figure that out?" Cunningham later added, "Jews for [Sen. John] McCain because Obama wants to gas the Jews, like the PLO wants to gas the Jews, like the Nazis gassed the Jews."
Since October 16, numerous media figures -- among them Jerome Corsi, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin, and Bill Cunningham -- have compared Sen. Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis.
Michael Savage said Sen. Barack Obama "benefited from affirmative action, stepping over more qualified white men, I actually lost as a result of affirmative action, many times in my life. ... [W]e have America's first affirmative action candidate about to become president."
The Washington Times quoted Sen. John McCain saying of Rep. John Lewis: "Here, a guy I admire and respect, a hero of the civil rights movement, saying, making a statement that somehow [Governor Sarah] Palin and I are involved in segregationist behavior, I mean, is beyond reason. In the debate the other night, Barack Obama refused to repudiate those remarks." But the Times did not quote Obama's actual comments during the final debate: that Lewis "inappropriately drew a comparison between what was happening" at McCain-Palin events and "what had happened during the civil rights movement."
On his radio show, Bill Cunningham asked Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, "[I]f Obama was white as chalk, do you think that [Colin] Powell would be endorsing the Democrat? He didn't endorse Gore, he didn't endorse Kerry. I think color trumps everything in his mind." Peterson responded: "That's right, because if it was about what Barack Obama stood for, then he would have endorsed Gore and all those guys, but he did not. You know, it's so sad, my friend, that most black people today are racist. Not all, not all -- but most of them are racist."
On his radio show, Michael Savage said, "Do you think Colin Powell came out for BO [Sen. Barack Obama] because of his race? Duh." He later added: "[F]orgive me for being so blunt -- but it seems to Michael Savage that the only people who don't seem to vote based on race are white people of European origin."
Quinn & Rose co-host Rose Tennent asserted that former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Sen. Barack Obama "because he doesn't want to be known as an Uncle Tom anymore. He wants to be black again." Co-host Jim Quinn later said of Powell, "He's tired of being called an Oreo."
We earlier noted that the press is spending an awful lot of time hyping the so-called Bradley effect and leaning heavily on the idea that Obama's big lead could still evaporate.
We noted the oddity of so many Bradley effect reports sprouting up despite the lack of evidence that it's been seen in America in decades. To us, the press attention seems more like an easy way to inject some drama into the increasingly drama-less campaign.
The latest to tackle to topic is Time and we're not sure whether to praise or mock its effort. We'd mock Time because it manages to join the media caravan detailing the somewhat soggy story:
Politicos are abuzz over the last hurdle Obama must clear in his path to the presidency: a phenomenon known as the "Bradley effect."
But we'd praise Time because it concludes:
The Bradley effect may be this fall's paper tiger: an old theory re-heated by the media because there's not much left to talk about.
For the record, Time thinks the Bradley effect is just a way for the press to juice up the campaign storyline. So Time then spends time addressing the Bradley effect.
To us, the stories have the same ring as the McCain "comeback" narrative, and that the press seems more interested in injecting some missing drama into the campaign (Obama could still lose!), than advancing real news stories.
The problem, as illustrated by the ABC story, is that despite the breathless headlines, there's very little that's news to substantiate the Bradley effect narrative, which is named after former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African-American, who he ran for California governor in 1982 and lost, despite pre-Election Day polls showing him with a comfortable lead. The theory was that voters mislead pollsters about whether they would vote for a minority candidate.
The issue is a legitimate one for debate and discussion. It's just that in terms of the press presenting it as a burning news issue right now, there were few if any examples of The Bradley effect during the very long primary season. Polling pro's say there hasn't been a clear example of the Bradley effect in decades. And the Obama campaign claims the notion is absurd:
"I think this is a completely overblown story," said Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, saying concerns about hidden racism skewing polling data are "ridiculous."
Despite the lack of empirical evidence, the Bradley effect lives on, fueling anxiety and nervousness among many Democrats that Obama's lead will disappear on Election Day.
Radio host Bill Cunningham stated: "I think there will be 100 cities burning if Barack loses. Yeah, that's what the black intelligentsia says." Cunningham also asserted that "Flavor Flav, 50 Cent, and Diddy" are "really in charge of the [Obama] Inaugural [Ball]."