It’s already September and far too many of us are still sounding blasé about going to the polls on November 2 to decide who will shape the policies that affect our lives for at least the next four years. The press is not helping matters. You would think that after all the media’s recent weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over journalistic ethics and standards, the public would be given less reason to be jaded about the Fourth Estate, as the media often calls itself.
Not so. Take a look at what was most important to the country’s most influential publications about the Democratic National Convention. As the Republican National Convention will seek to do, the DNC sought to persuade voters that its candidates are the best to become president and vice president of the most powerful country in the world. For the nation’s top publications, the phrase that deserved the most ink from the DNC was “Shove it!”
Yes, “Shove it!” The nation’s top publications had more than one field day with those words, says Factiva®, the Dow Jones-Reuters company that compiles The Factiva Media Visibility Index of the media’s most widely covered people, places, events and topics within a given time frame. According to Factiva, the most memorable phrases of the 2004 DNC in the country’s most influential publications up to July 30 were:
* “Shove it” – 381 media mentions;
* “Wisdom” – 191 media mentions;
* “Opinionated” – 62 media mentions;
* “One America” – 57 media mentions;
* “Hope is on the way” – 50 media mentions;
* “America can do better” – 21 media mentions.
Never mind that the “shove it” in question had nothing to do with the Democratic Party’s platform. It was uttered on the eve of the DNC by Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic Party presidential nominee John Kerry, to Colin McNickle, editorial page editor for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Tribune-Review is owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, who, according to CNN, has donated millions of dollars to right-wing causes. The paper has been dogging Heinz Kerry since her marriage to Kerry after the death of her first husband, Sen. John Heinz (R-Penn.).
Unfortunately, the Republican National Convention will not have taken place by the time this issue of TNJ goes to press. I shudder to think what pearls of wisdom will become the most memorable phrases emanating from the RNC.
What does all this have to do with the imperative of every American of voting age to go to the polls on November 2? Everything. The country’s most influential publications have chosen to trivialize a process that is part of this country’s claim to democracy fame. In these times of social, moral and political commotion, that is a contemptible act. Trivializing the right to vote by not exercising that right is just as contemptible.
By Samori, Shaka and Lambert