It's a phrase you hear all the time, but rest assured, there is no such thing. The Republicans have a knack for sleight of hand, the technique magicians use to manipulate objects during illusions. Republicans aren't making coins appear from behind your ear, but they know how to divert your attention so that you can't see the trick, the recent buzz surrounding Sarah Palin is a fine example of this.
Less than two weeks ago, John McCain announced his running-mate, the governor of Alaska that no average American voter had ever heard of before. Naturally, this was going to raise some questions like "who the hell is this woman?" She is a heartbeat away from the presidency, probably someone who would need to give some details about herself, but oh no. When reporters began raising questions about this mysterious pick, the McCain campaign freaked out and immediately began lashing out at those dirty liberals in the media for treating Palin unfairly.
But what about the coverage of Palin in the mainstream media was unfair? Seriously, find me one thing from a legitimate news source (not a blogger) that was unfair towards Palin... don't worry, I'll wait. There were a couple tabloid outlets reporting some things that could be construed as such, but even those turned out to be somewhat true with the announcement of Palin's pregnant teenage daughter - something Palin herself released a statement on and admitted. Everything else was standard journalism - investigation into this woman's history, her record and just an overall look at who she is - remember, the night before her selection as VP, nobody had heard of Sarah freakin' Palin. But the Republicans, reaching into their bag of tricks, took the opportunity to blast the media for attacking Palin and it worked, 51% of Americans polled said she was being treated unfairly. Nevermind the fact that there was no particular evidence to support such a claim, but the Republicans know if you repeat something enough, it'll come true. It's sad, but in the world of politics, truth is subjective.
There are two more sinister points to all these cries of bias in the "liberal" media, it's a tactic that has worked in the Republicans' favor for decades now:
One, get the citizens to distrust the media. Remember, the press exists to keep our leaders in check, if no one challenges them on their questionable decision-making, then they can get away with just about anything. Post-9/11 America has all but confirmed that point as the Bush Administration was able to run rampant throughout the world until the country finally woke up and realized they were getting screwed. But here we are again with McCain playing the media bias card with successful results, how does this keep happening? It's simple, make the people think there is a media bias, and they will begin to ignore the news, if the citizens aren't informed, they'll just blindly follow along with whatever their leaders do.
Two, get the media to work in their favor. Journalists are a funny bunch in the year 2008, the days of guys like Edward R. Murrow, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are long gone, there are no more investigative journalists, just personalities. After enduring the accusations of having a liberal bias for so many years, the media will now sacrifice their principles just to show their objectivity, even if it means abandoning the story. Look at Sarah Palin, instead of calling her out for her flat-out lies, distortions and smears in her speech at the Republican Convention, the media lavished her with praise for a "great speech." No, a great speech is an accurate one, not that half hour of flat-out bullshit, but the media wouldn't call her on it because they might be accused of being biased. Funny how that works, isn't it? When the Republicans manage to spin the media in their favor, it's no longer a free press, it's a propaganda machine.
In defense of the media, the days of investigative journalism are gone because the average American is fucking stupid. Radio and TV broadcasters are taught to speak as if their listeners/viewers have no more than a sixth grade education, newspaper and magazine articles shrink in size to accomodate lower attention spans and FOX News is the most watched cable "news" outlet. So you can understand why the media fails to do its job anymore, people just can't be bothered by nuanced things like facts, they want senationalism like "is he a secret Muslim" or cute stories like "LoL she said the difference between a pitbull and a hockey mom is lipstick! HUR HUR!"
So when you're wondering why America keeps electing horrible politicians, it's partially because the media has been hijacked and/or smeared by those same officials. Republicans know they can't govern the country properly or win elections based off their laughable policies, so they have to go into their bag of dirty tricks, and this is just one of the many that they have up their sleeves. As a result, respectable journalism has been replaced by Larry the Cable News Guy.