Obama Manipulates Media, Media Goes Along
This passage from an otherwise mundane piece by Jim Hoagland on the attempts by presidential campaigns at branding jumped out:
I marveled at the sea of white faces nodding approvingly or cheering wildly behind Obama. Then I realized that only a sprinkling of the black voters and volunteers who helped power the candidate’s victory in my home state [South Carolina] had made it onto the platform seats behind Obama, in range of the national eye.
Was it possible these voters had not come to celebrate their victory? Hardly. Reporters in the hall saw Obama campaign workers usher photogenic white families toward the platform as they entered. The scene they composed was an effective, calculated rebuttal of the Clintons’ effort to portray Obama as a black candidate whose victory depended on race — a way of killing “this possible racial narrative before it could be born,” as Gal Beckerman wrote in a perceptive dispatch on the Columbia Journalism Review’s Campaign Desk blog ( http://www.cjr.org).
Such manipulation has become so commonplace that few other journalists bothered to mention the Carolina campaign tableau in their coverage, even though Beckerman estimated that 85 percent of the crowd was African American.
Given thousands of journalists filing tens of thousands of stories on the same event, one would think that someone would have picked up on this angle by now, no? Surely, it’s interesting when campaigns orchestrate press coverage to give a decidedly mistaken impression of what is going on? Certainly, we hear about it when Republican convention planners make sure that the relative handful of black faces in attendance get on television.
Watching the video of Obama’s South Carolina victory speech, though, I’d say there are more than a “sprinkling” of black faces behind him. But it may well be that most of the whites in the room were strategically placed there, too.