Bill Murchison

Save during flurries over the candidate's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and a Chicago friend, '60s extremist Bill Ayers, the skies of the Democratic campaign sparkled with sunshine. The media were notably incurious concerning the question, what had this guy -- Barack Obama -- ever done besides write an autobiographical book or two? There were no sustained inquiries into his record as a legislator, either in Illinois or in Washington, D. C.

Yes, it was noted in the New York Times that, as an Illinois senator, he had for varying reasons voted "present" nearly 130 times. What nevertheless had he done in the positive sense? What were his aims, his achievements, his philosophy? We never found out. About the once-obscure Sarah Palin we learned far more than we ever did in 2008 about the even-then-mostly obscure Barack Obama.

Did the media connive to "fix" the election? That wouldn't be my take on media methods. I think in the main, in 2008, they saw what they liked and couldn't stop whooping it up. By mid-October, the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University was reporting three of every of every five campaign stories broadcast by CBS, NBC and ABC favored Democrats. Not exactly what you call balanced coverage.

Obama might have won in 2008 irrespective of what the media said of him. That's not the point. The point that should lay on the hearts of all us media types, old and new is: did we do our duty by the public? I make bold to suggest that in 2008 -- we'll see soon enough about 2012 -- we barely scratched the surface.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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