I’ll indulge here in a bit of a screed against “The Media.” The trouble with such screeds, of course, is that “The Media” is not monolithic and not all media is created equal. But there seem to be certain tendencies in the “mainstream media” (another amorphous entity) which I find objectionable. To drill down even further, my annoyance generally centers on “pack reporting tendencies in television and newspaper political news and punditry operations.” But that’s more of a mouthful than “The Media.”
One tendency is the “Christians are Republicans” narrative. Craig at Reverent & Free has a nice post that highlights James Dobson’s latest antics which contribute to that narrative. To maintain this narrative, you have to favor “the right kind” of Christianity and discount “the wrong kind.” Much of Dobson and his ilk’s power in the political discourse comes from “The Media’s” assumption that guys like Dobson are entitled to speak “for Christians.” After the Reformation, Christianity shattered into a million little pieces, making a centralized voice for the faith problematic.
The words and actions of Dr. Dobson illuminate further the problems that arise when politics and religion collide. Dobsonâ€™s interpretations of scripture are specific to his own particular sect of Christianity. Dobson was offended because Barack Obama dared give voice to a worship of Christ that doesnâ€™t involve deference to the standard GOP issues, specifically same-sex marriage, abortion, and prayer in schools.
Will “The Media” get down in the Biblical weeds and try to determine who has the better of the argument vis-a-vis the teachings of Jesus? Of course not. If we’re lucky – something about which I’m not confident – they will at least avoid characterizing this as a battle between “real Dobsonian-Republican Christians” and “pseudo-Christian Democrats.”
My other recent annoyance with “The Media” comes from their discussion of “independent” political groups with particular focus on the Swiftboaters who attacked John Kerry in the fall. The general punditry discourse about the Swiftboaters has completely ignored The Media’s role in giving Swiftboaters power. On their own, the Swiftboaters were just spitting in the ocean; another bunch of cranks pissed off at Democrats, making spurious charges. But, The Media lent the group its power. It’s a little like a virus that invades the body and uses the body’s apparatus to reproduce itself. The discussion of the Swiftboaters has generally been devoid of analysis about how and why the Media allowed itself to be infected.