The Washington Redskins And The Great Bush Comeback
Most serious football observers knew before the season started that the Washington Redskins were not a lock for the Super Bowl as many football analysts were predicting. Even after signing Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders the team had too many holes to justify their lofty preseason reviews. And true to form, the Redskins revealed last night in their "upset" defeat courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys that the media was way off in its visions of a Super Bowl Parade on the Washington Mall. The same may be true of the mainstream political press covering this presidential election.
There is no way that Al Gore's current lead in the polls over Gorge W. Bush will stick. In fact, I am willing to go on record that it will disappear by the end of this week.
And believe me, I am not going out on a limb on this one.
Last night I watched the news on MSNBC with Brian Williams and knew that Bush would be at least even with Gore by next week. Williams looked at the reasons why Gore held his current lead over Bush as he questioned analysts about the apparent lack of effectiveness in the Bush campaign's message and strategy over the last month. But before the program was over the message was clear: the Bush campaign was turning things around and would be assaulting the airwaves and media outlets with a new streamlined message and a new and improved George W. Bush.
I noticed the same type of discussions in a few newspaper articles I read yesterday as well as on a couple of political talk shows over the weekend.
By the time Brian Williams was done "searching for answers" I realized that the fix was in: the mainstream media is now ready for Bush to rebound, and now, it will be so.
Today, Bush goes on Oprah and it will be spun, whether true or not, that he "did well". Then, the media, for the rest of the week will follow him around the country as he spreads his new message and displays his new found confidence. They might as well play the Rocky theme as they cover Bush this week in his visits to 12 cities in nine states covering some 6,076 miles by Saturday. Beginning tonight, Bush's "momentum" will build.
And then it will happen - the tell-tale sign that Bush has "caught up to Gore" - the network news, in the evening, will lead with coverage of Bush's daily activities followed by that of Gore's. A friend and I noticed that one of the most striking things about Gore's "comeback' was that immediately after the Democratic convention the news programs, at night, were leading with his daily activities and following them with Bush's. We actually flipped the cable channels and saw it on three different networks. And there was nothing more substantive about Gore's day than Bush's - it was all basic campaign stuff - speeches and handshakes.
And poor Al Gore, he is facing a rough next two weeks as he and his campaign will be blamed for the slippage in Gore's poll numbers, as if he has done something wrong and the Bush campaign will be deluded into thinking that it has executed the perfect strategy.
So prepare yourself for Bush's dramatic comeback and the media "momentum" that it generates. And watch this race go into a virtual dead heat before the first presidential debate.
To me, this week and probably the next will represent a bunch of smokescreen and mirrors and further evidence of the media's self-fulfilling "prophetic" powers. If they want to make news, they do and if they want to justify an outcome, they will do that as well, and unlike professional football, where the outcome of games isn't influenced by media spin and hype, many Americans who vote, will in fact make their decisions based upon the media's political coverage.
And that's too bad, for both the American voter and the Washington Redskins.
Tuesday, September 19, 2000