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THE BABE IN THE BUNKER

Media schlockmeisters

Exclusive: Barbara Simpson blasts mainstream press for baiting GOP into controversy

Hey, it’s all show biz, folks!

Step right up, and get you some snake oil!

Boy, do they have a lot to sell.

I doubt anyone dreamed we would be inundated with political debates aimed at influencing voters toward a choice for the GOP presidential nominee.

One or two or a few debates – that’s about what we’ve experienced before, but this political season, there already have been 17 with two more scheduled for this week!

Hey guys, enough is enough!

We’re up to our ears in politics, but with so many debates, and more on the way, they’ve turned into a political version of old-fashioned tent revivals.

Lots of flash and sleight of hand and questionable truths.

These revivals aren’t held in dusty, hot tents in a vacant field on hot summer nights but the comparison isn’t that far off.

You have the “preacher-media gods” at the desk, delivering challenges and questioning under the guise of all-knowing, wise seers. They exude the aura that they have the power over the future of the candidates and, indeed, of the country.

You have the candidates seeking the ultimate thumbs-up and acceptance so important to their political futures.

And both sides measure success by the reaction of the folks in the bleachers. Hundreds in attendance are there to see the show – to see candidates sweat and squirm as questions and challenges are thrown at them, some fair – some not.

Debates generally have been considered political question-and-answer forums that are supposed to inform voters of the positives and negatives of the candidates. They’ll also ultimately thin out the field.

That may have been the case originally, but as soon as television came along, and now with the flood of networks and cable outlets, they’ve turned into an opportunity for career enhancement for the hosts.

Maybe.

That was the idea, but not this year. The candidates this year are probably the most feisty and outspoken of any I’ve seen. As weeks have passed, the debates have progressed from political theater to real theater.

As the media juggle formats and questions and candidate’s responses, they also measure their “success” by the responses of the audiences. It’s clear they’re learning a few things.

And it’s about time.

These events are called debates, but they’re really not. They’re simply an opportunity for chosen media types to have their moment in the sun to directly challenge men and women who desire to lead our country.

They don’t have to like them or their politics – and they clearly don’t – but what happened to unbiased and fair?

Media bias is center stage. It’s clear a liberal agenda is behind much of the questioning and the candidates are baited into controversy. What’s different this year is that the candidates are fighting back verbally.

Right out of the gate on last week’s CNN debate, moderator John King asked Newt Gingrich if he wanted to talk about an ABC interview with his ex-wife made public that day.

Gingrich was classic.

Does he want to talk about it? “No.” Pause. “But I will,” and he proceeded to excoriate King and CNN for opening a national, presidential, political debate with a question about sex. He spoke of the “destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the media – making it hard to govern the country and hard to get good people to run for office.

His series of accusations was exquisite, concluding with, “I’m tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”

He got two standing ovations, and King looked like someone had drenched him with hot water.

In the Fox debate last Monday, Juan Williams chose race-baiting, challenging Newt Gingrich because he’d said that poor children need to learn good work ethics and skills and they could do work in the schools, including janitorial work, as a means to learn about jobs and to earn money.

To Williams, that was a racial slam at blacks, but Newt would have none of that and handled it directly and deftly.

Williams, stubbornly tried again, insinuating race because Gingrich called Obama “the food stamp president.”

Gingrich responded specifically that Obama has authorized more food stamps than any other president in history. It’s numbers, not race.

The issue of Mitt Romney’s wealth won’t go away. He is rich, but so what? To hear the media, you’d think he was a robber baron.

Yes, he has investments. He admits he’s not on salary, so his current income is from investments and taxed at 15 percent. It’s made to sound criminal.

So is the fact his blind trust has placed some investments in the Cayman Islands. It’s made to sound like tax evasion; it’s not. The U.S. has global taxation, so wherever a citizen earns money, taxes are paid.

The flood of presidential debates has morphed from delving into the candidate’s position on national issues to a hi-tech pi–ing contest among the news outlets to see which can be the most outrageous.

They may like it, but the people don’t. Cheering audiences prove it. It’s no secret the media aren’t liked or trusted, and they’ll feel the backlash in falling ratings.

In fact, they already have. It couldn’t happen to a nicer group.

Follow Barbara Simpson on Facebook.

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