By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A media primary challenge

It will be interesting to see whether Hillary Clinton can hang in there given the pressure that’s now going to come her way to get out in favor of Barack Obama. Not that she’s going to withdraw. But it’s possible that Obama now has such a head of steam that Clinton is going to run out of money and be relegated to also-ran status before Texas and Ohio, where she hopes to resuscitate her campaign.

Check out some of the morning commentary following Obama’s broad victories yesterday in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.:

  • Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post. “Obama’s thrashing of Clinton in the two states yesterday raised the possibility that her coalition is beginning to crack, three weeks before she reaches what will probably be more friendly territory in Ohio and Texas.”
  • Emily Bazelon, Slate. “Hillary has been an excellent first for us. No one else could have done what she’s done, with all her aplomb and professionalism and seriousness. But she doesn’t have to be the nominee, or the president, to have come through.”
  • Adam Nagourney, New York Times. “The lopsided nature of Senator Barack Obama’s parade of victories on Tuesday gives him an opening to make the case that Democratic voters have broken in his favor and that the party should coalesce around his candidacy.”
  • Jeanne Cummings, The Politico. “Hillary Rodham Clinton is now on a path to the Democratic nomination that is remarkably similar to the one that failed for Republican Rudy Giuliani.” (Indeed, there was something very Rudy-in-Florida-ish about Clinton’s popping up in Texas last night while she was losing badly on the East Coast.)
  • Peter Canellos, Boston Globe. “Clinton’s supporters insist they will make up for the recent string of losses with wins in some very large states ahead, including Ohio, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Each of those states has more of the type of voters who have supported Clinton in the past — lower- and middle-income Democrats in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Hispanics in Texas. But most analysts — along with many in both the Clinton and Obama camps — can only wonder whether Obama’s momentum will change the outlook.”
  • Andrew Sullivan, TheAtlantic.com. “She’s come undone.” (His head for a round-up of “Hillary’s finished” commentary from across the Web.)

I’m sure I could dig up more, but you get the idea.

Now — a challenge to the media, much of which deeply loathes Clinton and would love to see her campaign topple over for good. Pointing out that the game is just about over is perfectly legitimate. Analysts analyze, pundits pontificate and yes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to picture Clinton’s winning the nomination.

But just cover the damn race, OK? The fact remains that Clinton and Obama are practically tied in delegates, and that if Democratic voters in Texas and Ohio decide they really prefer Clinton after all, then she’s back in it. I’m a political junkie, and I enjoy polls and predictions as much as anyone. It’s just that they need to be kept in their proper perspective.

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8 Comments

  1. Brian F.

    Furthermore, I find the media’s lovefest for Obama disturbing. Chris Matthews has got to be the most biased political analyst on television. He said he got shivers in his leg listening to Obama last night. How can he get away with that?

  2. h sofia

    Agreed. There’s a point at which they are no longer reporting the news, but trying to create the news. I find it to be very unprofessional – how quickly they go from reporting the facts to pontificating and making all kinds of predictions.

  3. Brian

    I also hope the media reports in some detail about Trinity United Church of Christ, which Obama belongs to.Given the supposed importance of religious belief to many Americans, I’m surprised reporters haven’t dug a bit deeper into some of the stances of Obama’s church.I hear more about Hillary being a Methodist, when it seems her religion defines her to a much smaller degree than Obama’s defines him.

  4. Anonymous

    Thank you! That’s the kind of commentary I’ve been looking for. Just cover the damn race. The horse race and process story journalism that has engulfed U.S. politics is disgusting.I just wish you had been this forceful in your denunciation of this kind of journalism when it was the journos predicting Mitt Romney’s demise.

  5. Anonymous

    Clinton should stay in. This is not the Republican race where Romney had never won anything of importance, and had the numbers irrevocably against him when he claimed to ‘suspend’ his campaign in the name of yadda, yadda, yadda.Clinton, at this time, is competitive enough that, absent the media’s love affair with Obama, should remain in the race until more telling contests have passed. This weekend’s Potomac races were not them, however disheartening.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 3:24: After Romney lost Florida, it really did look pretty much impossible for him. But, essentially, I’ll give you a touché. And I think there’s another parallel between Romney and Clinton — the media detest both of them.

  7. Jim

    Dan,Yeah, the media do detest both of ’em. But what’s chicken and what’s egg? I know as newsmen we all are (were, I guess) supposed to put personal feelings aside, but you know what it’s like covering someone who treats you like dog squat; you end up holding them, as the Senate-floor formulation has it, “in minimum high regard.” Or, to keep hurling metaphors, Clinton’s chickens may be coming home to roost here.To your greater point: Well, yeah, cover the damn race. But what’s going on between now and the next primary? More interations of the standard stump speech? More tears? More Hope(tm)? More plaudits to “my friends”? OK, then, more man-on-the-street interviews with the marginally educated – excuse me, fellow voters – on issues they don’t even pretend to comprehend? It’s easy to understand why political journos toss in analysis and speculation – because there’s no damn news most days.

  8. Anonymous

    Americans are a part of this race. Americans can’t trust a hypocrite. Clinton ended the debate using stolen words taken directly from John Edwards also said only minutes earlier about Obama… “If your campaign is going to be about words, they should be your own words,” she said. “Lifting whole passages isn’t change you can believe in; it’s change you can Xerox.”Who is stupid, Americans or Clinton?Clinton is betting that Americans are.Clinton and Obama Debate * From Austin, TX * Tonight, 8 p.m. ET * CNN Election Center 2008

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