The Media’s Losing Game

We’ve been subjected to a litany of debates during this primary season and Wednesday night’s contest provided little in the way of further clarity. The American public should have a pretty good idea as to where each of the candidates stands on the issues – or at least where they claim to stand. They’re all “fiscal conservatives,” Ron Paul is the “defender of liberty,” Mitt Romney is “severely conservative,” Rick Santorum is unabashedly vocal on social issues, and Newt knows how to handle the liberal press corps.

There is something to be gleaned from each passing debate, as we slog through the same tired questions and stiff moderators – a hidden gem lurking amongst the suits, ties, podiums (and in this case,  school desks) during the latest CNN debate: the media continues to show its hand as to their blatant bias and it’s clearly obvious that people are fed up. Newt’s infamous reprimand of John King during the last CNN debate is a great example. If the seemingly endless applause is any indicator, the audience ate it up like red meat.

We observed the same thing on Wednesday night when a single internet question catalyzed and united the candidates in their distaste for the media and Obama: “Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidates believe in birth control and if not, why?”

After reading the question, King was answered by a chorus of boos as the candidates quickly re-directed their assault from each other to the media and Obama.

Newt led the way yet again with the following statement that was greeted with applause:

There is a legitimate question about the power of the government to impose on religion, activities which any religion opposes. That’s legitimate. But I just want to point out. You did not once in the 2008 campaign..Not once, did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. So, let’s be clear here. If we’re going to have a debate on who the extremist is on these issues, it is President Obama, who as a state senator voted to protect doctors who killed babies who survived the abortion. It is not the Republicans.

Romney followed Newt’s lead:

John, what’s happened — and you recall back in the debate that we had George Stephanopoulos talking out about birth control, we wondered why in the world did contraception — and it’s like, why is he going there? Well, we found out when Barack Obama continued his attack on religious conscience. 

I don’t think we’ve seen in the history of this country, the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance – that we’ve seen under Barack Obama. Most recently, requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises – health care – insurance that would include birth control, sterilization, and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable. And he tried to retreat from that, but he retreated in a way that was not appropriate because these insurance companies now have to provide these same things and obviously, the Catholic Church will end up paying for them. But don’t forget the decision just before this where he said the government – not a church – but the government should have the right to determine who a church’s ministers are for the purses of determining whether they’re exempt from work force laws or labor laws. He said the government should make that choice. That went all the way to the Supreme Court. There are a few liberals on the Supreme Court. They voted 9-0 against President Obama. His position on religious tolerance, on religious conscience is clear and it’s one of the reasons the people in this country are saying “We want to have a president who will stand up and fight for rights under our Constitution – our first right, which is freedom of religion.

King never responded to Newt’s charge and then attempted to deflect the focus away from Romney’s salvo against Obama with a “contraception” question aimed at Santorum. Trying to paint the former senator as the extremist, King saw his strategy backfire:

What I was talking about is we have a society — Charles Murray just wrote a book about this and it’s on the front page of “The New York Times” two days ago, which is the increasing number of children being born out of wedlock in America, teens who are sexually active. What we’re seeing is a problem in our culture with respect to children being raised by children, children being raised out of wedlock, and the impact on society economically, the impact on society with respect to drug use and all — a host of other things when children have children. And so, yes, I was talking about these very serious issues. And, in fact, as I mentioned before, two days ago on the front page of “The New York Times”, they’re talking about the same thing. The bottom line is we have a problem in this country, and the family is fracturing. Over 40 percent of children born in America are born out of wedlock. How can a country survive if children are being raised in homes where it’s so much harder to succeed economically? It’s five times the rate of poverty in single-parent households than it is in two-parent homes. We can have limited government, lower tax — we hear this all the time, cut spending, limit the government, everything will be fine. No, everything’s not going to be fine. There are bigger problems at stake in America. And someone has got to go out there — I will — and talk about the things. And you know what? Here’s the difference. The left gets all upset. “Oh, look at him talking about these things.” You know, here’s the difference between me and the left, and they don’t get this. Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it. That’s what they do. That’s not what we do.

The candidates are no longer running and hiding from the media and their incendiary line of questioning. Delving into social issues formerly provided flat tires for presidential campaigns, but the current field has enough ammunition – courtesy of Obama – to take the curve balls being thrown by the press and send them over the center field wall. The candidates and the voters need to direct the terms of the argument. The media has proven for some time now that it is incapable of leading a fair and honest debate on American politics. Their bull-headed campaign to keep Obama in the White House is a losing proposition in 2012.

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