Does the mainstream news media have a curious double standard in reporting the things that Americans “need to know?” While claiming to be unbiased and fact based, the mainstream news media picks and chooses in ways that often appear to be more politically based than anything. For instance, look at the difference between the way the news media report on President Obama as compared to President Bush. This is particularly noticeable in the current situation with offshore drilling, and the catastrophic oil spill.
Just a short while before the oil spill occurred, President Obama, reversing what he himself said before he was elected, announced that he was going to open up more of the Atlantic coast to offshore oil drilling. This would have been the first expansion of off-shore oil drilling in two decades! Not to mention what Mr. Obama had to say in 2008 when he was a candidate insisting that offshore oil drilling was a bad idea and would do nothing to help with high gas prices at the pump. The media meekly reported his new position, without comparing it to his previous forceful and even mocking statements about the subject.
This was a rather major reversal even without the subsequent oil spill. In the online Daily Finance, financial reporter Sara Hansard quoted American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard as saying that the president’s announcement was “a positive development,” because “The oil and natural gas industry has a proven track record of safe oil and natural gas development.” But after the catastrophic oil spill and incredibly inefficient “clean up” – nothing. There was not another mention of it in the media. It was as if he’d never said any such thing.
Contrast the reporting of the current oil spill with Hurricane Katrina, for another example of selective reporting by the news media. Katrina was what is known as an act of God. This natural disaster was exacerbated by extreme ineptness on the part of the State Government of Louisiana, both before and after the storm. The Government of Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans, did very little to evacuate the helpless population of their state when Katrina was headed their way, due to “insurance purposes.” according to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, despite warnings from the Federal Government. Mayor Nagin delayed his evacuation order until it was too late, and thousands of people were stuck, despite a fleet of buses that were not used because of “a lack of drivers.” Instead the stranded citizens were “sheltered” at the Super Dome without sufficient food, water, sanitation or security. After Katrina hit, and the flood walls and levees collapsed in places, and were overrun in others, they did little but whine and spread rumors, loudly blaming the Federal Government.
And what did the mainstream news media do? They dutifully reported everything the scoundrels said, spread the rumors, and laid the blame squarely at the feet of President Bush. The same President who declared a State of Emergency for Louisiana two days BEFORE the storm hit; who reportedly called and pleaded with the State Government of Louisiana to evacuate, to no avail; who signed a relief package of $10.5 billion within days.
But now, with an oil spill by a company that contracts, not with states, but with the Federal Government, no blame is laid at their feet. Louisiana, the same State that was so damaged by Katrina, is one of the States being harmed by the oil spill. The livelihood from the water by boating, shrimping and fishing, is being threatened for generations to come. Where is the outcry against the Federal Government now? Where is the help?
BP is running roughshod over the people of Louisiana, but while the disaster stretches on and on and on… we hear almost nothing from the mainstream media about President Obama and whether or not he is neglecting to forcefully solve the problem. The media that blamed President Bush ad nauseum for Hurricane Katrina damage and lack of response, is silent on the lack of leadership and solutions that President Obama is responsible for in this situation.
The main stream media apparently only thinks we have the right to know things when the party in office is not the one the media leaders want in office. When they are in favor of the current administration, we no longer need to know anything. There are real questions as to how the Federal Government and President Obama are handling a huge, environmental and economic crisis. But it seems the mainstream media has no interest in trying to answer them.
I’m not blaming President Obama for the buy he gets; but it seems curious to me that President Bush got slammed for everything whether it was his fault or not, while the mainstream news media ignores President Obama’s gaffes. There are other, less mainstream, news sources that are equally biased in their reporting. But many of them state their bias, usually conservative, right out. Perhaps that is what is missing in the mainstream media. They claim to be unbiased, when it is all too clear that they are not.
Maybe if the each of the news media sources will tell us upfront whether their particular bias is conservative or liberal, then we can compare and contrast the stories until we come to some understanding of the truth of the matter. But as it stands, I hope President Obama appreciates the huge buy the mainstream news media is giving him, because it sure contrasts with the way they held President Bush’s feet to the fire in their previous reporting.
^ “Bush signs $10.5 billion disaster aid bill.” CNN. September 3, 2005. Retrieved on July 15, 2006.
^ Comedy of deadly errors – Ralph R. Reiland, Pittsburgh Live, September 19, 2005.