Has the media's recoiling fascination with the Angry White Mobs of health care reform's roadshow crippled that effort and stalled the Obama administration?
Marshaling evidence to that effect, liberal codger E.J.Dionne, for one, draws the only relevant conclusion: there is no such thing as a "liberal media bias." In giving the "tea-baggers" all that sneering attention,the media overstated their numbers and fury; and as we all know consequence equals intent and consequences are always intended. Employing their conspiratorial mob tactics (political organization and assembly, raised voices, unfashionable clothing) they snookered the media into acting as their own oblivious man behind the curtain, projecting the illusion of a powerful force. It's a new twist on an old story: idealistic and naive city folk brave the American interior in search of a dream, get taken by slick operating small-towners. It was a Simpson's episode. Of course, eventually everything will be a Simpsons episode.
But the pitchfork extras were too well cast. Like anthropologists happening upon a long-isolated tribe, the press marvelled at these folk, no longer mere legend. For all their habitual rhapsodizing about the historic demographic shift America has taken from shameful homogeneity to the uncertain (but nonetheless mandated Great and Necessary) multiracial beyond, the media was nonetheless shocked to find a retired middle-class as white as the workforce it once was. The past exists only as reproach, and those consigned to it carry its shame like the mark of Cain.
They have no character arc, or future. First this was prophesied, then it was decided. The unease produced in them by the media's endless celebrations of their long-overdue and deserved demise (the post-racial age of Obama) is treated as spontaneous bigotry welling up from inexhaustible depths. The racist nature of their demand for their "nation back" is presumed and condemned in one breath, and made no more understandable by Obama's open claim to the nation on behalf of a new, better people, defined by only by what they are not--white. Those clamoring for their "nation back" are literally guilty of talking back.
Of the accusatory adjectives used to describe the crowds, old and white, the first remains a furtive and facile appeal to an ancient prejudice, but the second has become a pejorative in its own right, encouraging a new sort of bigotry--one not so much sanctioned as it is required. All else being equal, "White" is now a moral failing into which one is inescapably born. How we arrived at this perversion of both Christian and Enlightenment values (in the name, alternatively, of both) remains shrouded not in mystery but coercion. One is not allowed to ask.
Media bias, liberal or not, is nothing more than the aggregate of the influential class' prejudices, fantasies, and phobias. It is not action but drift. Its predictable nature creates the illusion of direction and control. But once set in motion, round and round it goes, where the narrative stops, nobody knows.