For years, decades really, the mainstream media have been telling the American people that money is a gargantuan problem in politics. Some politicians (John McCain and Barack Obama spring to mind) have said the same and moved to regulate same, calling their self-protection racket “campaign finance reform” while holding as many fundraisers as can be scheduled. Media Bias vs. Money: Which Is the Bigger Problem in Politics?

For years, decades really, the mainstream media have been telling the American people that money is a gargantuan problem in politics. Some politicians (John McCain and Barack Obama spring to mind) have said the same and moved to regulate same, calling their self-protection racket “campaign finance reform” while holding as many fundraisers as can be scheduled.

The 2008 presidential election will be the most expensive in history, marked ironically by Hillary Clinton spending more than $100 million before losing in Iowa. Total expenditures of more than a billion dollars are not out of the question when spending from all sources is factored in. One of the cute little factoids the media rarely mention in their diatribes is that they are the recipients of hefty slices of that evil money from advertising revenues.

Well guess what, Olympics fans. While most of you were busy watching Michael Phelps swim faster than fish this week, a new poll was released indicating that more American voters believe media bias is a “bigger problem than campaign cash.”

Yes indeedy, Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Reports, whose independent polling frequently straightens out the spin of politicians and media alike, came up with a doozy.

Let him tell it:

“Voters overwhelmingly believe that politicians will ‘break the rules to help people who give them a lot of money,’ but most say there’s a bigger problem in politics today – media bias.

“The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 55% believe media bias is more of a problem than big campaign contributions. Thirty-six percent (36%) disagree and think that campaign cash is a bigger problem.

“People believe media bias is a bigger problem even though 63% believe most politicians will break the rules to help campaign contributors. Just 14% believe most politicians would refrain from breaking the rules for a donor. Forty-four percent (44%) say that lobbyists and campaign contributors have too much influence on John McCain’s positions. Forty percent (40%) say the same thing about Barack Obama….

“Not surprisingly, Republicans are the most likely to see media bias as the bigger problem. Eighty-one percent (81%) of the GOP faithful hold that view. Democrats and unaffiliated voters are more evenly divided. Obama’s Party, by a narrow 50% to 41% margin, say that campaign cash is the bigger issue. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 47% say media bias is the problem while 43% hold the opposite view.

“Fifty-three percent (53%) of liberals see campaign contributions as a bigger problem than media bias. Seventy-four percent (74%) of conservatives hold the opposite view. Among the moderates, 49% say media bias is the problem while 42% disagree.”

Political consultants (although not necessarily their clients) have long understood that perception is everything. The media, almost all suffering precipitously declining revenues in line with precipitously declining audiences, seem to be on a much longer learning curve.

As is sometimes said in the political advertising that will prop up media revenues through the fall, CALL YOUR MEDIA NOW! Ask them what was wrong with the simple old “Who, What, Where, How and Why” format that for so long informed the citizenry with less bias (there’s always some bias).

On the other hand, why bother? Let them stew in their own juices until they find their own 12-step program to the recovery of objectivity.

August 14, 2008
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