In critiquing the “polarized press” Karl Rove once famously shot down the notion of an explicitly liberal media explaining, “the press corps is less liberal than it is oppositional”. So if tomorrow’s election plays out as everyone expects and we find ourselves on November 3rd having just elected a GOP majority to one or two houses of congress, who becomes the opposition?
Since 2008 the media has positioned itself in opposition to pretty much everyone and everything that was driving the narrative at one point or another: the President, Democrats, the Tea Party, GOP leadership, banks, big government, Muslims, extremists, liberals, conservatives, you name it, they opposed it. The brunt of their opposition, I would argue, has fallen on the shoulders of those who currently hold the most power and authority: Democrats and President Obama with a side dish of rich bankers. This strikes me as a healthy predilection towards skepticism, although usually not a particularly productive one. It has also been one of the President’s primary obstacles to selling the Democratic agenda and achievements. Many have chalked this up to a “communications problem”; but who could even hear a sales pitch, no matter how effective, amid all the din and clamor of the current media environment? Particularly when your platform (the media) is predisposed to distort and criticize your message in transmitting it to their audience.
But with power more officially divided between parties, who will the media look to as targets for their oh-so-genuine outrage? And how will that impact the voters’ perceptions of the 2 parties leading into the 2012 slugfest? Personally I think (and hope) we’re reaching the apex of the pendulum, and it’s only a matter of time before the inevitable course correction levels the playing field between right and left. Whether that will be enough to right the ship electorally by 2012 remains to be seen.