And he’s right about that, if not much else. At the Minnesota State Fair, radio personality Jason Lewis from KTLK told CNN’s Gary Tuchman that “it’s not the Walter Cronkite era anymore…you don’t need the gatekeepers.” He claims one is no longer “stifled” if they don’t “do” major news outlets like the New York Times. While 21st-century technology has certainly given rise to new forms of reporting – most notably the highly biased, opinionated kind – it’s a long stretch to put an ultra-conservative entertainer like Lewis on par with the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or CNN. (I don’t think Lewis will be replacing Tuchman anytime soon – just my opinion.)
Lewis and others like him can be entertaining (at best) mouthpieces for candidates like Michele Bachmann who don’t “do” major outlets like the New York Times (at least not since her many national debacles, including this and this). It’s one thing to be ignored by an outlet like CNN because your story isn’t news, but something else altogether when, like Bachmann, you simply refuse to answer to anyone outside your circle of devotees. To be fair, as Tuchman chased down Bachmann who was virtually running away in her heels, she did say she was the polar opposite of her opponent Tarryl Clark, and that she wasn’t taking the election for granted.
But have entertainers really taken the place of the Walter Cronkites? Who really listens to KTLK – or Air America, for that matter? The base. The circle of devotees. Those who already know whom they’ll be voting for no matter what. Insofar as that keeps the base active (or angry and afraid), there’s a purpose served. But when a candidate fails to ever step away from the safety of bias, they fail to serve. And serving is what our legislators are supposed to do.
Sharron Angle (R-NV) and Jan Brewer (R-AZ) have recently made national news by running away from major news organizations, and Michele Bachmann is hot on their heels. The case can be made for avoiding extremist networks like FOX or the opinionated Ed Show (granted, Ed makes it clear his show is opinion). However, running away from CNN merely reveals the inability to stand up for what one claims to believe and inspires incredulity. Even Charles Rangel (D-NY) tried to stand up to MSNBC, although he didn’t do a very good job of it and ended up apologizing the next day.
During an on-air interview at the Fair, Bachmann told Jason Lewis that “Life is from conception to natural death and so I want to respect life at every stage.” A CNN reporter might have asked Bachmann exactly how she exercises this respect for “life at every stage” by taking away a single mother’s food stamps or dropping a cancer patient from their health insurance plan in the middle of a round of chemotherapy. But Lewis dotingly sings his choir part with a glazed look in his eye, and offers nothing but a frame for Bachmann’s delusional self-portrait.
In her latest tv commercial, Bachmann uses an actor to tell viewers that Sen. Tarryl Clark voted to raise a sales tax that Bachmann herself voted to raise. And Bachmann will never be called on it because – simply – she fails to serve.
Walter – we miss you.