According to a new Gallup poll last month, 60% of Americans now have “little or no trust” in the media to report the news “fully, accurately and fairly.”
But yellow journalism is hardly a 21st-century phenomenon. And the internet allows us to just bypass the mainstream media altogether. So, while media bias is an annoyance, it’s hardly the worst problem confronting us these days.
Not so fast, says political pollster and consultant Pat Caddell.
Caddell has been around the intersection of politics and the media practically forever. He has worked for a number of presidential candidates over the years, from George McGovern to Jimmy Carter to Jerry Brown to Joe Biden. Two years ago, he worked for Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff.
Caddell argues that we’re in:
the most dangerous time in our political history in terms of the balance of power in the role that the media plays in whether or not we maintain a free democracy or not.
Caddell contended last month in a speech that biased reporting is the least of our media worries:
The press’s job is to stand in the ramparts and protect the liberty and freedom of all of us from a government and from organized governmental power. When they desert those ramparts and decide that they will now become active participants, that their job is not simply to tell you who you may vote for, and who you may not, but, worse—and this is the danger of the last two weeks [since 9/11]—what truth that you may know, as an American, and what truth you are not allowed to know, they have, then, made themselves a fundamental threat to the democracy, and, in my opinion, made themselves the enemy of the American people. And it is a threat to the very future of this country if that, we allow this stuff to go on. We have crossed a whole new and frightening slide on the slippery slope this last two weeks, and it needs to be talked about.
Caddell’s list of stories the media has not pursued included these:
- Senior White House staffer Valerie Jarrett has a full-time Secret Service detail, but a U.S. ambassador in an unstable country was without adequate security on 9/11.
- Shortly after being hired by the White House, Senior Adviser (and former Obama campaign manager) David Plouffe received $100,000 from an Iranian front group to give two speeches in Nigeria.
- National Security Advisor Tom Donilon has been widely identified–by Caddell (who once called him the “leaker-in-chief”) the New York Times, Sen. (and Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee) Dianne Feinstein and others–as the source of leaks endangering American lives.
- Eighty percent of DOE green energy loans went to major Democratic and Obama donors.
But Caddell argues that we passed another gate on our downhill slide last month in the press treatment of Ambassador Stevens’s death and attacks on American embassies. The Administration refused to admit that Ambassador Stevens was killed in a terrorist attack until their bluff was called by Libyan President Mohamed Magarief. And twenty American embassies were under attack on September 20th (the day before Caddell’s speech) but it didn’t make the national news.
“It is one thing,” says Caddell, “to bias the news, or have a biased view.”
It is another thing to specifically decide that you will not tell the American people information they have a right to know.
If a President of either party—I don’t care whether it was Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or George Bush or Ronald Reagan or George H. W. Bush—had a terrorist incident, and got on an airplane after saying something, and flown off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas, they would have been crucified! It would have been—it should have been the equivalent, for Barack Obama, of George Bush’s “flying over Katrina” moment. But nothing was said at all, and nothing will be said.
Here’s Caddell’s prediction of where we’re headed:
One day you’re going to get my combination of George Wallace and Huey Long running for public office.
And Wallace-Long, says Caddell, is going to complain that the press is unfairly attacking him.
[H]e’s going to say, “You know what? We’ve gone too far with this First Amendment stuff. We need to make them serve the people.” We’re sliding toward a system by establishing the fact that the press, in fact, has prostituted themselves in the service of a political party, or a political candidate. And once you go down this road and say, “That’s happening,” then people say, “Why do we need a First Amendment? Why should we protect them? They’re not protecting us.” That’s the threat here. That’s the danger that I worry about, because we desperately need a real free press, whatever its faults, that protects the people. . . .
[The media] are going to destroy freedom in America. I don’t care about their partisan preferences, I care that, in the end of the day, somebody’s going to say, “Enough of this!” And somebody will carry the day, and that’ll be that.
Here’s the speech: