Tempting Target: Media Try to Persuade Conservatives to Stay Home
“'Values' Voters Fade as Factor in U.S. Campaign,” crows an October 17 Reuters headline. If this is true, it isn't happening by accident. With the November elections looming, the biggest players in the mainstream media are casting aside objectivity to mount an all-out effort to discourage values voters from going to the polls.
By flogging a Republican sex scandal and a new book alleging that Bush Administration officials view top evangelical Christian leaders with disdain, the media are attempting to drive an emotional wedge between social conservatives and the GOP. Social conservatives constitute the largest voting bloc in the Republican coalition. If values voters become disgruntled and fail to turn out in large numbers, the media's beloved Democrats will wrest control of Congress from the Republicans.
Nearly every person in America who watches television, and that's just about everybody, has heard about Florida Republican Mark Foley's lewd e-mails to male congressional pages. As reported by the Media Research Center's Tim Graham, the ABC, NBC, and CBS morning and evening news programs collectively aired 152 stories about Foley's cyber flirtations between September 29 and October 11—an average of nearly four stories per day per network devoted to an obvious Democratic “October Surprise.”
To put the dizzying frequency of coverage into perspective, the three networks together broadcast just 19 stories in a year about Illinois Democrat Mel Reynolds' indictment and conviction on 12 counts of sexual assault involving a 16-year-old girl.
Even as they doggedly continue to harp on the Foley story, major media organs are showering attention on a new book alleging that the Bush Administration is using values voters for political advantage while giving mere lip service to their agenda. In “Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction,” released on October 16, former White House aide David Kuo accuses unnamed members of the administration of contemptuously deriding prominent evangelicals as “boorish” and “nuts.”
In less than a week, Kuo has already been featured by Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and Tucker Carlson of MSNBC, Soledad O'Brien and Wolf Blitzer of CNN, Lesley Stahl of CBS, and Chris Cuomo of ABC. In an interview with conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, Kuo admitted that while his book was contracted to be released in early 2007, his publisher, CBS-owned Simon & Schuster, pushed the release date up to October 2006, just before the elections.
On yet another front, Bill Moyers devoted his October 11 PBS show “Moyers in America” to the divisive question: “Is God Green?” The MRC's Tim Graham quotes Christian theologian Calvin Beisner, who appeared on the show: “[Moyers] forthrightly told me before our interviews that he, as a liberal Democrat, hoped to use this program to divide the evangelical vote and return control of Congress to the Democrats in November's elections” (Moyers disputes Beisner's account).
The mainstream media's resentment of the power of socially conservative voters was stated unambiguously by Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter on MSNBC's October 16 “Imus in the Morning” show: “I hope this election is going to mark the demise of the values voters … that they don't determine the election the way they were seen to have the last time around.”
Values voters need to wake up to the game the media are playing. If they stay home on November 7 to punish the Republicans, social conservatives will enable people who actively oppose their values to take control of Congress—and they'll witness the wildest celebration bashes at media outlets in years.