A Protest of Media Bias - Obama's trip to the Middle East

I just read Howard Kurtz's article, 3 Anchors to Follow Obama's Trek Abroad, for the Washington Post in which he hinted that there was a news bias because the anchors of the three networks are traveling with Obama while none of the networks have traveled with McCain on his three previous foreign trips. Two of his ten paragraphs were focused on this point. I was ready to jump along and declare "media bias" until I started thinking about what is newsworthy. Te networks care about what will get ratings and McCain's previous trips would not draw the ratings like Obama's trip will.

For starters, McCain has been making the Obama foreign trip newsworthy because he has been challenging Obama to go back to Iraq and observe how peaceful it is there now compared to his first visit. Obama has been chided for wanting the United States to withdraw from Iraq. I find this funny since the Iraqis themselves have begun to ask for us to withdrawl (see Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demands US withdrawal timetable). If it was not an occupation before, it definitely will become one if we refuse Iraq's request for us to leave. Obama should not be lambasted for actually agreeing with the Iraqi government that we should have a timetable for withdrawl for the American troops.

This trip is more newsworthy than McCain's recent trips to Mexico, Colombia, Canada, France, Britain, and Israel because those are all comfortable allies to the United States. Visiting Iraq, Jordan, or whatever other country that will be on the unannounced itinerary is much more newsworthy than visiting some of the comfortable allies of the United States. I would assume that the anchors know the itinerary and know that the stops are newsworthy, as least much more newsworthy than visiting Mexico, Colombia, Canada, Britain, and Israel.

Obama also used a nice strategy of linking this trip with exclusive interviews from the anchors. I would assume that the conversation went along the lines of, "Katie, do you want an exclusive interview with Obama? If you do, then you better come along on this trip because we do not know when we would be able to schedule one otherwise." Obama's political strategist show that they are very savvy. They have turned this trip into a spectacle by offering exclusive interviews and visiting Iraq. Obama would really make me happy if he made a detour into Iran. McCain should be upset at his strategist.

And finally, Obama has the ability to draw massive crowds. This is also more newsworthy than any of McCain's trips. Obama might speak to 70,000 Germans. That is quite newsworthy. He will probably draw large crowds all along his trip. In the end, this love from Europe might just backfire because Americans seem to have the tendency of Europhobia. If Obama is loved by Europe, it might turn away some American voters.

In the end, I think it is fair to say that the "biased" media is going on this trip because it is more newsworthy than any of the trips McCain has been on. McCain should create an exciting trip where he would go and talk to the leaders of Cuba, Iran, and Pakistan. A trip like that would also bring the anchors along. Newspaper columnists like Howard Kurtz should complain about McCain's campaign not creating a newsworthy trip rather than complain about bias in the media. The bias might be there but this is not an example of that. This is just an example of the Obama campaign creating an event that the media wants to cover because it will draw ratings.