The media will inevitably come under intense criticism this year for its coverage of the Presidential election. Supporters of John McCain have criticized the media for favoring Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton’s backers considered some in the media sexist, and Obama backers have complained of what they consider racist comments by members of the media.
‘Twas ever thus. The media – like politicians – can make some of the people happy all of the time, and all of the people happy some of the time, but can’t – and shouldn’t try to – make all of the people happy all of the time.
This election’s “media” coverage is complicated by the full emergence of the Internet and the blogershere and the cacophonous coverage produced by such a multitude of voices. Ironically, though, the Internet’s allowance of a greater number of voices may bring us back closer to where we were at the birth of our nation, when a panoply of pamphleteers peddled their wares and when one journalist – who was said to have been paid by Thomas Jefferson – called George Washington “a traitor, a robber and a perjuror,” and another accused President John Adams of “selfish avarice.”
Next time your candidate gets pilloried, or his or her words are taken out of context, think of those unfair and scurrilous attacks on George Washington more than 200 years ago – and think of how lucky we are to have the First Amendment’s protection for free speech and a free press – whatever “the press” is these days – instead of the enforced censorship that reigns in places like China.