I’m not sure what’s worse, the national media falsely normalizing Oz and falsely scandalizing Fetterman in the name of chasing ratings, or the national media completely ignoring far more competitive Senate races in places like Nevada and North Carolina because they can’t find a ratings angle.
If you look at the actual polling averages (which anyone can look up and confirm for themselves on a site like 538), the Pennsylvania race stopped “tightening” twelve days ago. Fetterman’s lead dropped to 5.8 points and has since slightly rebounded to 6.0 points. No lead in a swing state like Pennsylvania is safe, but this race is no longer “tightening” no matter how many times the media keeps chanting that word. In fact the media appears to be trying to scandalize Fetterman specifically because the race has stopped tightening. The media is trying to get the races to start tightening again, by falsely claiming it’s still tightening. It wants a horse race for ratings.
Oz murdered puppies and recently posed in front of Hitler’s car, among a hundred other scandals past and present. But everyone knows Oz is a con man, and he’s six points down and likely to lose, so that’s not a juicy storyline. The media thinks this race needs both candidates to be scandalous in order to produce national ratings. So it’s being biased toward Oz and biased against Fetterman.
Meanwhile the media appears to be losing interest in Herschel Walker’s worsening scandals, because abortion is icky and isn’t ratings-friendly. And also the media can’t find anything on squeaky clean Warnock, so it can’t “both sides” the Georgia race for the sake of ratings, so it’s moving on.
And since the media knows there will surely be more Walker scandals before Election Day and it’ll have to circle back to bashing him, and JD Vance will keep saying and doing humiliating things, and the media will have to be negative on those Republicans, it might as well score cheap points with the “both sides” crowd for now by beating up on Fetterman.
It’s important to understand that the media largely doesn’t do this for partisan reasons. Major outlets, even if they lean left or right, don’t exist to try to help the left or right win elections. They exist to hit ratings marks and turn a profit. So the media isn’t really trying to flip the outcome of a race. It’s just trying to get the biggest ratings possible out of a race, by portraying the candidates as fictionally as necessary.
The most clear example of this was when the mainstream media spent every day of the 2016 election trying to keep it close by manufacturing scandals about Hillary, and only emphasizing Trump’s salacious scandals but not his most serious criminal scandals. The media thought it could play that game keep that election close and ratings friendly until the end and score points for looking unbiased, and Hillary would keep just enough of her lead to win anyway. Then Republicans took advantage of the phony email scandal with the Comey letter, and you know the rest.
The media seemed to learn its lesson in 2020, refusing to run with last minute phony Hunter Biden scandals. Which in hindsight no persuadable voter was ever going to care about anyway. But the media didn’t want to dishonestly hand Trump a second term.
But after two years of Trump being gone, ratings and page views are way down, layoffs have happened, and no one’s job is safe, the media is now reverting back to its old ways. Pick the most ratings friendly race, and portray the candidates in the most ratings friendly way.
If the media honestly felt that a candidate’s potential cognitive/brain issues were a public service story, it would be talking about Donald Trump’s clearly diminished cognitive abilities whenever it’s hyping him for 2024. When Trump occasionally appears in public these days, he doesn’t even come off as the same person as he was when he was in office. It’s almost painfully obvious how severely Trump has declined. But there hasn’t been a peep from the media about that.
And if the media honestly felt that the Pennsylvania race needed this much attention because it’s so competitive, the media would be giving even more coverage to the seven other senate races that are all mathematically tighter than Pennsylvania.
Because of what the media is doing to try to drive Fetterman’s six point lead down, we need to keep supporting him, particularly if you live in or near PA and can volunteer on the ground.
At the same time, don’t let the media mislead you into believing Pennsylvania is the most competitive senate race. It’s not even close. Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada senate races are all much closer mathematically than Pennsylvania is. Georgia, Arizona, Florida senate races are somewhat closer mathematically than Pennsylvania is.
If you want to win the midterms, start by turning off your TV and unfollowing the most dishonest mainstream media Twitter accounts for the next four weeks. You can go back to them after November 8th. But for now they’re distracting you with misleading narratives. Use that time instead to volunteer for competitive campaigns, in person or remotely online.
The mathematically closest Senate race in the nation? Ohio. Help Democrat Tim Ryan. The mathematically second-closest Senate race in the nation? North Carolina. Help Democrat Cheri Beasley. The mathematically third-closest Senate race in the nation? Nevada. Help Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. And if you want to make sure the media can’t disingenuously take the Pennsylvania race away from Fetterman, help him out. Let’s go win it all!
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report