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Accidental Honesty, Pretend Surprise and the Media Game

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by Ari Rutenberg

Editor's Note: Ben Cohen is on vacation for a few days, so I'll been posting in his stead.  If there are any topics of particular interest to readers that have not been covered, please let me know and I'll do my best to get something going.  Also I love conversation and discussion, so please comment and engage!

Over the past few days, there have been two instances of what I would call accidental honesty on the part of the GOP.  The first was Todd Akin's comment that women who have been legitimately raped rarely get pregnant (on which you can read more here from the great Oliver Willis).  The second is Ohio elections official Doug Priesse's statement that "I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban -- read African-American -- voter-turnout machine" (more here from the Columbus Dispatch). Every politically active person in this country is aware that many on the right agree with Messrs. Akin and Priesse, even if the GOP won't always come out so forthrightly a state these positions.

Aside from my fundamental disagreement, and no small amount of disgust at such blatantly discriminatory statements, what really bothers me about this is the media's reaction to it, and to any other event where they are actually given the information they ask for.

For months, the media (in this case the MSM and left-wing press) have been talking about the awful voter discrimination that is taking place in states like Florida and Ohio.  They have been very accurately pointing out that its because many GOP voters and pols feel that  black people and other minorities are likely to commit voter fraud, despite the complete lack of evidence to support such statements.  Yet when these statements actually come out, rather that reacting seriously the media feigns surprise and starts freaking out.

Kind of like Romney's tax return.  We all know that he's paid very little taxes.  Whether its 5%, 3%, or 0% I don't care, and I don't think most voters really care.  Yet if he were actually to release the rest of them, rather than taking it as an opportunity to seriously examine the iniquity and insanity of our tax code (like why is income above $110,100 exempt from payroll taxes?), the media would spend a month going "holy shit Mitt Romney hasn't paid any income taxes", despite the fact that we all already know that and have already been discussing it for a year or more.

I'm really sick of stupid media game because none of it contributes to solving these problems.  Even from journalists I generally agree with.  I want to see a serious discussion of these issues.  Yes its a problem that Romney has been such a stingy bastard, but the problem is that the system allows him to do so.  In the same way, yes its an issue that the minor schmuck in Ohio doesn't want to let black people have extended voting hours, but the real problem is that the GOP has a real problem with equal protection of the law when it come to people who disagree with them, and minorities in general.  Its not just voting law, and we need to have a serious discussion about why Republican's don't think equal protection means equal protection.

What do they think it means, and how can we educate them on sectors of the population they don't understand and thus don't trust?  Rather than just saying "ha! see you guys really are racist, sexist assholes" (which is true but irrelevant), we need to engage them and figure out how we're going to live together.  If the great experiment that we all call home is to survive and flourish, we need to try engaging, discussing, learning, and educating rather than waiting for accidentally honest gotcha moments and shallow factual victories to give the MSM an excuse to feign shock and horror at things they already know to be true.

What do you think?