Friday, October 17, 2008

Memo to the Press:

Leave the plumber guy alone already. He is a conservative who asked Obama a question. He didn't ask McCain to be poster child for the Republican campaign. Yes, he's pro-McCain. No, the Q&A with Obama wasn't going to get him to change his mind. Yes, some of his ideas are really bad ones; he isn't a foreign policy or tax expert, he's just a guy. But he has the right to ask legitimate policy questions and debate his viewpoints with the candidate.

I'm now seeing that this is getting blamed on Obama. I guess the theory is that he's been secretly voted King of the Paparazzi and they are all under his direct command? Oooookay.

So, just to be clear, here's my position: Obama can answer Joe's hypothetical and refute his argument, some of which is clearly uninformed. Obama can also point out that Joe would be better off under his own tax plan. The Press, however, have gone much farther, digging up his past tax payments, his relationship with his kid, his business status as an assistant, because that's The Story - those juicy bits of gossip that sell papers. They're out of bounds, way out of bounds. But you know what? We're in charge of them. We're the ones that buy the papers, who pick it up on the blog buzz (you notice I didn't link the stories), and otherwise drive them to seek out more until the story is wrung dry. Anyone who feels as though this is totally unwarranted and shameful, should also be ashamed of ourselves for perpetuating it.

I feel the same about the horribly sexist jokes out there I've seen about Sarah Palin, and the absolutely repulsive post that featured Obama's face beside a noose and the caption "Asphyxiation: The Fucking Solution." Holy crap, what have we sunk to?

On a level, I realize it's completely naive to deny the fact that humanity has a dark side; a side that used to bring our kids to watch public executions. Before the 'net, we still had gossip rags like the Enquirer, and we've always looked on salaciously as The Press symbolically eviscerates the subject du jour about their divorce/drug scandal/prison sentence. This election is bad for mudslinging, but there have been many others just as bad, going back to the beginning with Jefferson and Adams.

I just hate to see it, and wish we could be better. So I like to call the press out on it. But I should also call myself out on it for watching it, as one of the bloggers who perpetuate it by echoing the story across the 'net.

I've noticed old Joe is now trotting himself out on the talk show circuit, showing up at all the rallies, and hiring a publicist. That now makes him a public figure. Snark away.

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