Media influence destroying politics

Anna Wyatt

The funny thing about today’s politics is that about 90 percent of the time it has absolutely nothing to do with political issues.

Instead, the mass media specializes in taking comments out of context, displaying unflattering photographs, blowing up minor and insignificant incidents into fantastic scandals and calling it “politics.”

The most recent example is the seemingly endless Reverend Wright controversy. Although it is true that he was Barack Obama’s pastor for 20 years, and his comments were completely outrageous, radical, and offensive, the idea that Reverend Wright, who Obama has publicly denounced, should play a key role in the Democratic nomination or the upcoming 2008 presidential election is absurd.

The truth is that Obama has said time and time again he personally never witnessed one of Wright’s now infamous rants, and that if he had he would have immediately responded. Furthermore, several of the circulating clips of Wright’s sermons were taken completely out of context (in one he was actually quoting Ambassador Edward Peck). But Obama isn’t the only candidate victimized by the media’s need for controversy.

Hillary Clinton was accused of being a racist when she made a comment regarding president Lyndon B. Johnson’s role in the Civil Rights movement. She said, “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done.”

Newspapers and TV stations jumped all over the opportunity, accusing her of discrediting Dr. King’s role in the Civil Rights movement and promoting an underlying bigoted message. Although Hillary’s issue died with her campaign in the South Carolina primary, the media is still intensely covering the Reverend Wright controversy.

If there’s one thing the media enjoys more than blowing issues out of proportion; it’s flaunting their ultimate success: CNN reported multiple times that over 50 percent of the voters in their exit polls said the Reverend Wright controversy affected their vote in the primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. As first time voters it’s important to realize what kind of information we are getting from the media, and to know what really matters when it comes to picking our new leader.