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Ear to the Ground

Elizabeth Edwards Takes On the Media

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Posted on Apr 27, 2008
Elizabeth Edwards
Flickr / NCBrian

Elizabeth Edwards has some insight into the media’s coverage of presidential campaigns, which she brings to a thoughtful Op-Ed in this Sunday’s New York Times. Beyond the current campaign, Edwards warns, “the future of news is not bright.”


Elizabeth Edwards in The New York Times:

The problem today unfortunately is that voters who take their responsibility to be informed seriously enough to search out information about the candidates are finding it harder and harder to do so, particularly if they do not have access to the Internet.

Did you, for example, ever know a single fact about Joe Biden’s health care plan? Anything at all? But let me guess, you know Barack Obama’s bowling score. We are choosing a president, the next leader of the free world. We are not buying soap, and we are not choosing a court clerk with primarily administrative duties.

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By joaquin, June 6, 2008 at 1:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tdof,
great comment! very witty

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By cyrena, April 29, 2008 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

Curious that you mention this in regards to Elizabeth Edwards…about ‘so what if she has cancer’.

In reality, she’s probably ALL THE BETTER because of it!! And, it is not the first major hardship she and her husband have needed to deal with.

Yes, I would have most certainly supported her myself, and definitely over Hillary. Now THAT would a real ‘progress’ that these gender focused people could actually get behind. Not just ANY woman to say that we have a female president, (especially a shrew) but a real LEADER and example of what Americans are about.

This is not to say that I wish cancer or any other horrific emotional hardship on anyone. I DO know first hand, that surviors of those things often become that much stronger as a result.

Meantime, she’s right of course, about how the other candidates were forced out, but she didn’t mention all of them, and I think she should have. How many folks knew about Dennis Kucinich’s plan?

And while we’re here in the truth telling mode, let’s be honest about the attention that Obama really HAS received.

For starters, he was mostly ignored initially, because nobody took him seriously. Once he had too large a support network to ignore, the media attention became negative almost overnight, which is how and why we became bombarded with sound bytes from old sermons by Jeremiah Wright. And, while the bowling thing doesn’t particulary annoy me, (the press also covered John Edwards helping to build a house) the flag pin thing in the midst of what should have been an informative debate, was enough to make me homocidal.

I admit that I never checked Biden’s health plan, because I was enormously put off by his own well vocalized imperial plans for Iraq. How can ANY of these politicians make a claim to improve health care service and access for us, when they also want to maintain a permanent presence in Iraq and/or the Greater Middle East? And, Biden was very emphatic about his ‘partition plan’ for Iraq. Now maybe it would have been a hairs’ width different from the partitioning that the Cheney thugs have put into place, but where does ANY US politician think they’re going to get with those of us who don’t believe that we should spend our resources ruling the world and stealing resources from other nations?

At least John Edwards had since come to his senses, and promised to get us OUT of there, and stop the military imperialism. Chris Dodd would have been fine as well, and yes, I would have supported John Ewards as well.

Meantime, some of us DO pay attention, and seek out the information. Sadly, I have to agree with BruSays, in saying that the media is only doing what the popular mentality has allowed them to do. People LIKE this stupid stuff passed off as newsotainment. They actually think they’re ‘in the know’ from watching Good Morning America and Oprah.

Put some reality like actual news in front of them, and they rapidly change the channel, claiming that it’s either ‘boring’, or just SOOO ‘depressing’. Well no shit. I IS depressing. It’s depressing to watch them all run to Disneyland and Walmart too.

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By dasm, April 28, 2008 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I would vote for this woman.  She has more intelligent things to say about the childishness of the media, the need for better health care, and the flip-flops/two faced comments by McCain than anyone else has done.  And she does it all honestly & with diginity, not resorting to smears & lies the way many, especially Repubs, do.  Bowling, bitter-gate, Wright, pins—what a bunch of who-cares garbage.  She totally nails it when she says it seems as though the media is searching for colourful characters for a novel, rather than addressing issues important to anybody wishing to be president.  Thank you, Elizabeth Edwards, for your comments.

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By tyler, April 28, 2008 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I most definately agree with brusays.  there’s a movie that came out a few years ago starring luke wilson called ‘idiocracy’.  it’s kindof a comedy, satarising media driven society. its set in a future where the president is also the WWE wrestling champion, and sessions in congress start off like WWE match, with all the over the top intros, fireworks, etc.  all in the name of keeping the general public stimulated.  kinda funny, kinda scary. (which reminds me, weren’t hillary, obama AND mccain featured on a WWE program a couple weeks ago?)  anyway, funny that elizabeth edwards mentioned knowledge of joe biden’s health care plan vs. mr. obama’s bowling score.  admittedly, i don’t know much about biden’s health care plan, but barrack bowled a 37 i think.  coz thats news.

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By boggs, April 28, 2008 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

I don’t agree that the media gives us exactly what we want. (Entertainment…)
I believe thats why most of us are on the internet all day everyday. Seeking the TRUTH.
I really wanted to listen to the news this AM but both my satelite news chanels were determined to undermine Obama because of his Rev. Wright, even though the Rev. Wright has sufficiently explained his position on America, and we all know that he is much more a patriot than either the president or the VP.
His so called hate speech turned out to be nothing more then truths from our less then puritan past.

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By BruSays, April 28, 2008 at 11:40 am Link to this comment

Elizabeth Edwards nailed it. As a provider of important, substantive news, the MSM sucks.

But she should’ve driven that nail in further. Ultimately, the blame is on US. Most Americans are getting exactly what we want: Entertainment. We’re not tuned into real news but to a football game. It’s all about keeping it simple. Give us the “Rah-Rah,” the “We’re Number One,” the “Us versus Them.” Keep it simple, keep it lively, and above all, keep it entertaining.

Above all, Main Stream Media must always be entertaining. They don’t really give a rat’s ass about informing or educating us. Their first priority is selling us toothpaste, cars and shampoo. Keep us entertained and we’ll tune in (and watch the commercials). Bore us with in-depth journalism, long-term trends, analytical discussion and we’ll be tuning out. The commercial media know this. They watch the audience numbers, their demographics, their market share percentages. What “sells” (entertains) gets aired. What doesn’t, doesn’t.

This is why FOX News claims the highest number of viewers and PBS and BBC the lowest. This is why, as Elizabeth Edwards pointed out, more people know Obama’s bowling score than Biden’s position on health care. This is why a significant number of Americans still believe Saddam Hussein was linked to the events of 9/11.

Until we find a way to replace or significantly modify the current, corporately-controlled media with a truly free media, we’re going nowhere with these discussions. Look around…besides the NY Times, who else picked up on this story? CBS? CNN? ABC? NBC? FOX? MSNBC? And so it goes…

“And now back to the American Lapel Pin controversy! Film at 11!”

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By weather, April 28, 2008 at 3:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

They’re hardly ‘dim’ TDoff, but rather precise in execution. Mis and disinformation, distrust and confusion flourish. Disagreement divides and a sense of powerlessness prevails.

Make a differnce in your zip code first, something you can measure and see, because there is no one else looking out, no protective parents - they died on 9/11.
Thanks for your posts, not because I agree or disagree always but there’s substance there.

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By TDoff, April 28, 2008 at 12:50 am Link to this comment

I supported John Edward’s campaign, and were Elizabeth a candidate rather than Hillary, I’d vote for her in a minute. So what that she has cancer? Hers is of the body. McCain, for example, has a malignancy of the mind.

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By TDoff, April 28, 2008 at 12:47 am Link to this comment

The reason ‘the future of news is not bright’, is that there are too many dim bulbs running and reporting for the MSM.

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By Joe C, April 27, 2008 at 8:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Do we have choices? The bowling master - McSame - The Liar.

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By samosamo, April 27, 2008 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment

I was for edwards in the primary as I thought from the democrats he was the best choice but even at the beginning of the primaries, NEITHER side’s wannabe’s ever mentioned the deplorable state of our msm and the information they provide much less the complicity and conspiracy to veggatate our population and what any wannabe would do to correct the problem. THIS is the number 1 problem in this country. If you don’t get real information and don’t allow opposing sides to give their voice to the other, then you are looking at a duplicate of the nazi propaganda system.
Go to this site and order the dvd:
http://www.orwellrollsinhisgrave.com/
This is real information about why the people in this country don’t get any information, just pure empty crap.
So, Ms. Edwards, good to see someone trying to bring attention to this failure in our demoracy, even if it is a bit late, but better later than never.

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By ProUnionProLabor, April 27, 2008 at 6:57 pm Link to this comment

We can, dear electorate, still write-in a candidate of our choosing. Some will say that this is or will be a wasted vote or a non-vote. But I will have voted for the person that I feel is the best choice to be MY President. Not who mass media and big money say I should vote for. I suggest that everyone, at least, consider doing the same thing. I feel, short of revolution, that one can convey to Washington that what we have now, and have had for a number of election cycles, isn’t quite working as well as it should. My conscience will be clear, shouldn’t yours also?

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By Max Shields, April 27, 2008 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

Yes, we live in a duopoly. Nothing in the Constitution or in any document of note has every claimed that there be only two Parties. And yet, Elizabeth not only left out Dennis Kucinich who is a Democrat and was not even allowed in a number of the debates even though his poll numbers were higher than Dodd’s (and I think Biden’s); but the MSM maginalizes all but the two parties. Media pushed the horse races right from the get go - two horses in the Democratic Party were pre-ordained (mostly because of money).

So, if you’re going to sing the blues we ought to be clear the fact that the American choice is limited in the extreme. John Edwards may have struck a cord that was a bit better than what the Dems are left with, but in the end this is a duopoly that smothers the voices which are not aligned to the heritage of USA hegemony and corporate imperialism.

The issues are barely discussed because there’s no difference between Obama and Clinton at this point; and when there was choice, real choice in the issues raised by Kucinich he was laughed at and treated as “not serious” by Mrs. Edward’s husband as he whispered to Hillary Clinton - as if there’s the insiders and the outsiders; and Dennis was not in with the in crowd.

So, cry me a river, Elizabeth. And frankly I really don’t think Biden - to answer your question - was offering a cogent universal single payer health care. Do you know who was?

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By BobZ, April 27, 2008 at 5:14 pm Link to this comment

Elizabeth Edwards hit this subject right out of the park. The ABC Debates exposed in a microcosm, just how shallow the news divisions have become. If a healthy democracy depends on an informed citizenry, we are in poor health right now. We are being fed a constant barrage of information that is so superficial in the choosing of president. We just may be in a age of ignorance as documented in Susan Jacoby’s new book lamenting our decline in intellectual knowledge. When half the population has not read a book in the last year and 25% of our college students don’t know the number of Supreme Court Justices, you know there is something occuring in our society that is “dumbing” us all down. Edward’s is correct in pointing out that the internet is one place to go to look into the issues further and reveiew candidate positions based on facts rather than the latest sound bytes coming from the opposition. If we truly had an informed citizenry our current voting patterns might look a lot different.

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