When faced with an unrelenting media that was convinced that it had cornered President Obama in a compromising position on gay marriage, President Obama responded with the cool, class and principle that he typically demonstrates and made it clear that he does indeed support marriage equality for all Americans, including those in the LGBT community.
It is poignant that the first African American president of the US has also been the first one to state that he believes all American men and women are entitled to the right to marry another who they love without exception.
However, Barack Obama was already on record as supporting gay marriage when he ran for Senator. It was only when he ran for President that he modified his public opinion to that of supporting civil unions but not gay marriage. Considering that the 2004 election was heavily swayed against John Kerry and Democrats by Karl Rove’s hammering on gay marriage as a divisive issue, one might say that it would only be prudent not to invite the same hateful campaign and potential results by openly supporting gay marriage in a 2008 Presidential campaign. Some may find that as not being courageous but others may argue that it is more pragmatic to hold back such an opinion in the short term to be able to help the LGBT community in the long term than to announce it and possibly lose the White House to an anti-gay Republican who would harm the LGBT community.
In a purely factual sense, did anything really change yesterday? Did President Obama really change his mind on gay marriage or was his explanation of evolving on it just being diplomatic? Admittedly, only Barack Obama knows what he thinks so it must be stipulated that this is all supposition.
We do know that President Obama has always supported gay rights as President, through hate crime legislation, repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and not defending The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) from legal challenges. There doesn’t seem to be any specific item that benefits the LGBT community that Obama hasn’t already been supporting. So though yesterday’s statement was a change in rhetoric, it doesn’t seem to be a change in Obama’s absolute support for LGBT issues.
The instigation for all of this was an interview on a news media show, NBC’s Meet The Press. A guest on the show, Vice President Biden was asked if he supported same sex marriage and he explained that he did. This was not news, Biden has been a supporter of gay marriage for some time. Yet, his expressing an openly known view on this was apparently, just the opening the Mainstream Media was looking for.
The MSM treated that statement of well established fact as if it was a big scandal which it wasn’t. They seemed very energized about having a juicy hot button issue with which to go after Obama. Their incessant pounding on this finally bore fruit yesterday with Obama’s declaration.
Is this a case of the media creating an exploitative story for financial and/or political benefit or were they just doing their job and holding a politician’s feet to the fire? One might consider the MSM’s simultaneous lack of interest in holding Mitt Romney’s feet to the fire on claiming credit for the GM bailout, something he flatly opposed and is an enormous lie or his weaseling around on immigration, now claiming he is trying to figure out his position even though he has stated his anti-immigrant “self-deportation” mentality in front of the whole nation. The MSM doesn’t seem to pursue this ongoing gusher of Romney lies with much fervor. However, if Barack Obama had lied or flip-flopped about supporting gay rights, the resulting firestorm could easily be envisioned.
On the down side, “news” and conflict was once again manufactured by the MSM. On the up side, the LGBT community now has their President clearly expressing his support for marriage equality. There is good that has come out of this but that does not appear to have been the intention.
The media coverage of Obama was particularly rough at the beginning of the year, with an average of nearly 47% negative stories compared with slightly more than 15% positive stories during the first four weeks of January, Pew found. As the economy and his poll numbers improved in March, so did the favorability of his media coverage, but the president still has yet to see more positive coverage than negative in 2012.
There is a clear and distinct pattern in the MSM of promoting negativity towards Obama as the above study reflects. This is not to say that Obama expressing support for same sex marriage is a negative thing but the reality is that it may alienate some voters in swing states. Understanding that right now the country is evenly divided on the issue of gay marriage and knowing its track record in being used against Democrats to defeat them, it seems more intuitive to view the MSM as knowing that blowing this up into a huge story could have been damaging to Obama’s campaign hopes.
What if they threw a scandal and nobody came? Unfortunately for the MSM, this is what they’re having to scramble over today. In the aftermath of President Obama’s announcement, the outrage has been narrowly limited to the usual suspects, right wing evangelical homophobes and Republicans in the House…if there’s a difference. The media continues trying to fan the flames this morning with little oxygen being added, the surprise and disappointment is palpable. So, the principled MSM has pulled a Romney and is now spinning to the memes, “It will be a wash,” and “This could mainly benefit Obama with his base.” What a difference a day makes in the world of failed MSM memes.
Meanwhile, staying true to form, the House Republicans have leaped over helping the economy and Americans once again to pass today a bill that would prohibit the Department of Justice from using taxpayers dollars in any future fight against DOMA. Now that should create a lot more jobs and freedom!
It’s pretty much a moot point now to question whether this statement from Obama should have been positioned as “earth shattering” since the MSM’s pronouncement of it being so makes it so. But it remains a meaningful question to ask if our corporate media is meddling in our elections and democracy to benefit themselves. After all, a closer race means more avid viewing of their networks and greater ad revenue. What is also unavoidable is that the corporations which own the news networks would realize big financial gains from the tax cuts proposed by Romney and the GOP. Since all corporations have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to provide the greatest revenues possible to them, how are these corporations not obligated to support the politicians and party that will allow them to do so?
Is the corporately-owned media actually in the business of dictating what happens day to day in our democratic campaigns and possibly even the results? Are they deciding what issues will be debated and which ones won’t? Or are they just reporting what they should and what Americans are most interested in…or what will lure in the most viewers and ad revenue?
There are so many critical issues right now in this nation, the economy, health care, energy, entitlements, class warfare, women’s rights and on and on. Yet, for whatever motivation, the MSM often elevates the more emotional and superficial edges of issues than the core of issues.
If the MSM truly is creating news instead of reporting it, if the corporations that own the media can hobble the candidates they don’t support and promote the ones they do, we are living in dangerous times indeed.
There has been declining trust in the MSM as a news source, more and more people are turning to other sources, especially blogs and other internet resources. This is a positive trend and one that should be promoted. It makes sense to remain aware of what the MSM is pitching day to day so a complete boycott would leave one under-informed though reducing one’s viewing of corporate news outlets is one sure way to hit them where it hurts and weaken them.
“Free Press” used to be descriptive, now it’s a demand and one that if more realized, will empower Americans and their democracy far more.