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John Edwards Media Bias and the Addiction to Campaign Finance and Superstardom

by John on 06/02/2012

The not-guilty and hung verdicts in the John Edwards case are screaming for an end to campaign financing and the most powerful of all media bias – the entertainment bias.

Read on.  I have suggestions below that may seem far-fetched.  Still, I need your input.

Edwards rose from simple lawyer, to winning big cases for the little people, to Senator, a Vice Presidential candidate, and finally a candidate for the presidency – before it all collapsed under the revelation of a mistress and a love child while his wife was dying of cancer.

We can all accuse him of shortcomings – failures we all have.  Gail Collins says it was Edwards’ shallowness.  She also paints a similar picture of most politicians.

I see John Edwards and others through the prism of this horrible political/financial/media system we’ve allowed to evolve.

Edwards, a Democrat, is no different than Republican Senator John Ensign.  He too lost his career over an affair. I covered John Ensign as a journalist in Nevada from the time he won his first election.  Full disclosure here: John also wrote a nice endorsement for my book.  Another fuller disclosure: I like John Ensign; he was/is a good person with great talent.  He never ducked issues with me even when he was forced to take the GOP line.

However, Ensign, like Edwards, got addicted to two things:

  1. Campaign Money
  2. Media Spotlight

Simply put.  These politicians have to raise gobs of money from benefactors.  To get the money, these politicians have to become “rock stars” at big events to show they’re popular enough to win while being powerful enough in the halls of Congress to use this bribery money to pass legislation to help the bribers.

Reference: the term briber and campaign donor are synonymous in the Informed Not Inflamed dictionary.

Try to imagine this Hollywood life: perpetual adulation and wealthy people wanting to be in your presence.  This is political crack.  It is powerful addictive stuff.

And the media is simply the dealer/enabler – with its entertainment bias. 

The media helps people judge politicians by their looks first.  How many times did the media – not me – refer to John Ensign as Kennedy-esque?  When you heard stories about John Edwards rising to national prominence in North Carolina, the words “cute” or “handsome” were used.  Both print and broadcast media are guilty of this.

The cable news outlets perpetuate this bias further, though.  They fail to cover substantive issues.  Instead, they cover the campaign stops and the massive fundraisers.  Why?

  • It’s easy.  Just show up, turn the camera on, edit the video and voila a story.
  • It is the media’s lifeblood.  The majority of those campaign dollars, raised by the politicians, their political parties, and the donors, goes directly to the media in the form of advertisements.  Trust me, election years are seen as high revenue years for media outlets – especially for national media organizations and the local ones in swing states.

The crazy addiction only multiplies as Congress runs the crack-house.  They make campaign finance laws weaker and they make it easier for politicians accused of such laws to duck them.  From the New York Times story:

When asked why it was so difficult to reach a guilty verdict when they believed he was guilty of some of the charges, [Juror Cindy] Aquaro said Mr. Edwards was smart enough to hide the evidence. “I think he was guilty, but the evidence just was not there for us to prove guilt,” she said.

What’s worse, the sane people go along with this system.  The Supreme Court says raise all the money you want from corporations, they’re people too.

And the worst offenders?  We the People. 

But we’re powerless, right?  Wrong.  Here’s where we start with the Informed Not Inflamed Guidelines to help wayward politicians and the media.

  1. We have to demand an end to campaign financing.  Special interests on both sides are corrupting the system.
  2. Each candidate receives the same amount of money to run a campaign.
  3. TV stations and networks have to offer free time for campaign ads and debates to each candidate.  Yes, I said free.  Don’t we own the public airwaves?  We can decide what to do with them.
  4. Each candidate can use the Internet and a website to deliver his message each day to voters – at a considerably lower cost.
  5. No candidate can campaign until 2 months before a primary or 6 months before an election.
  6. Congress has to be in session for 50 weeks out of the year working on legislation, not campaigning. 
  7. If any member of Congress does not fulfill this schedule, then – like the military they give lip service to — they’re considered AWOL and subject to fines.

Is this impossible to imagine?  Maybe.  But campaign finance laws, the unfettered flow of campaign donations, a media that is more entertainment than news are the core reasons for the failures of our economy and our democracy.  Don’t believe me.  Look what we’ve been getting. 

A Congress and White House that refuse to enact legislation to ease unemployment and reduce the deficit – until after the elections.  Working for the people?  I don’t think so.

Thank you, John Edwards.

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