Outlining a Progressive Future

‘Bias’ – How Obama Got Elected

Following on from yesterday’s post on the use of ‘bias’ as a right wing attack mechanism comes a quick look at what could be described as this issue at its most extreme – the ‘documentary’ – How Obama Got Elected.

Now, from what I gather the documentary isn’t out yet, but the website is up – http://www.howobamagotelected.com

In the website you can see an interview with Sarah Palin where she discusses the campaign and especially the interview she did with Katie Couric. What I find interesting about the exerts I have seen of this interview are: 

  1. Whilst the film maker is determined to bring down Katie Couric there is never any question about the serious mistakes Palin made in the interview. This is most evident when Palin is shown a video of Katie where she criticises Palin for not answering an easy question and Palin responds with ‘because the world doesn’t revolve around you Katie’ (an answer for me that makes no sense).
  2. There is a serious discussion about how the media is ‘reducing the levels of democracy in America’, without there being any acknowledgement of the ‘freedom of speech’ and ‘freedom of press’ issues that right wing commentators love so much (unless they are talking about left wing bias). 

You can also see an exit polling video the film makers made on Election Day, which was designed to prove that the media had provided a bias view of the campaign. The film is a collection of 12 interviews that the documentary makers did on Election Day of Democratic Voters, asking them questions about the candidates. The idea is to prove that the media was biased as these voters are able to state bad things about the Republican candidates (especially Palin), but not the Democratic ones. It definitely is an interesting piece of reporting and research (noting that all interviewees came from the same polling booth, that the facts that they bring up are often obscure and very out of date etc.)

What this website and soon to be film does is really epitomise what I discussed in yesterday’s blog; an extremely hypocritical right wing attack on the left and bias, with very little teeth to it. I think this is a really interesting account of the way the right are dealing with their catastrophic losses in the United States. It shows to me how the right are now not only using media bias as an attack mechanism but also as a way to deal with and explain electoral losses. This is now coming through as attacks on left wing  elected officials as being ‘unfairly elected’, which I think is a far more dangerous attack on democracy than having a media that is biased and through that exercising freedom of speech.


April 13, 2009 - Posted by | Analysing the Right |


  1. I think you largely point out a problem not so much with conservatives per se but simply with political communication in the United States in general. I think the above movie you’ve cited is just a fudge piece that will preach to the choir and generally be seen for what it is by most, but really most of this stuff is just part-and-parcel now with the public arena on politics. There are dozens of books and ‘documentaries’ out there claiming that Bush stole the 2000 election through the courts, and stole the 2004 election through dirty campaigning and scare tactics.

    Although I blame (in a long-winded theory I won’t bore everyone with) CNN for starting it all in the 1980s, the line between news, entertainment and opinion has become so hopelessly blurred now in the US that the market has largely reorientated towards the kinds of products you’ve talked about above. That’s why Sean Hannity and Chris Matthews get far more viewers now than Meet the Press. Outrageous attacks by Ann Coulter play to the crowd and sell books, just like Keith Olbermann giving the ‘Worst in the World’ award to Bush every second week. I think the left are equally as culpable as the right as perpetuating that culture in America.

    Comment by Matt L | April 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. Matt,

    Thanks for your reply and yes I agree with you that the left are also pretty bad at this type of ‘reporting’. However, it wasn’t really the reporting where I was trying to draw a distinction between the two wings but rather the use of the term ‘bias’ as an attack mechanism that the right uses. I’m not sure if you looked at my earlier post on bias, but it was linking it to that idea.

    Second, I would like to point out that I think there is a major difference between discussing one party or the other ‘stealing’ an election due to media (as How Obama Got Elected) and ‘stealing’ an election through the courts and electoral fraud (which is what the left claims Bush did in 2000). This is simply because the fundamental premises of these two discussions are completely different; one is about institutional problems within the US and the other is about media ‘problems’ (if one determines having a biased media (if the US media is actually biased to the left) a problem).

    Comment by simon2013 | April 14, 2009 | Reply

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