Liberal Media Bias, Huh? Obama’s Common Sense, Successful Federal Inmate Release Ignored

Obama should be a media darling for putting non-violent offenders, many of whom we can now agree never belonged in prison, on a path back to social integration.
disappointed obama

Right now, the candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination are mad, simply furious over their perceived media treatment. Like a 12-year-old middle school lunch table, they so cannot even deal with NBC Network after the way it (sniff!) let CNBC moderators run all over them with questions(!) during last month’s debate. Asking Marco Rubio about his inability to exhibit any fiscal responsibility, when he wants to be entrusted with the keys to the Treasury! Indeed! How dare they?!

In fact, a pouty Rubio was so affronted with relevant inquiries about his money management history and poor Senate voting record that he leveled what the conservative crowd considered a devastating charge. The media, sayeth Marco, is little more than “a super PAC for Hillary Clinton.” You could almost hear the spit of contempt hit the ground.

This website’s raison d’etre, is in part, to expose the all-too-frequent dereliction of duty perpetrated by mass market media. On just so many, many issues. However, it remains one of the great ironies of our time that the loudest complaints often come from the right side of the political aisle. We’ve gotten used to the whining. The media’s wars on Christmas and white people in general. The thinly-veiled Hillary Clinton acolytism (I’m certain Clinton caustically laughs at the irony of being positioned as one on whom anybody has been “soft). The howl of religious discrimination every time anyone homosexual, brown, female or some combination of the three gains access to a Constitutional right.

But many moderate to liberal voters (and I suspect a larger number of conservative ones than have been vocal) will tell you. There’s a media bias alright. And it’s ain’t tilting leftward.

Let’s take but one recent example. On Halloween weekend, you may have encountered some media coverage about the planned release of thousands of federal inmates. If you read a “liberal” interpretation, like this just-the-facts rundown from NPR, it was easy to miss the social justice enormity of the Obama administration’s decision. More on that later.

If you read a conservative take on the issue, like say, this one from D.C. McAllister of the Conservative Review, you were treated to more of the same old dehumanization of the other:

“Never does the president consider that there are more minorities incarcerated because more minorities actually commit crimes and that they should take personal responsibility for their actions. Never does he consider that the ‘opportunity gap’ is really a responsibility gap.”

After Halloween weekend, if you looked for coverage about the inmates released, you probably found it tough going. And today “liberal” media, I say to thee: therein lies the problem.

According to the NPR report, “About 6,100 prisoners total — mostly Hispanic and African-American men incarcerated for drug trafficking crimes [were released]…part of a broader movement to reconsider tough-on-crime laws that were passed during the War on Drugs.”

This is huge. The mass incarceration business that perpetrated its worst excesses during the Clinton ‘90s, which disproportionately affected men of color, has received increased attention for its decimation of a generation of families. Supposedly (Rand Paul) the heightened awareness is bipartisan.

Obama should be a media darling for putting non-violent offenders, many of whom we can now agree never belonged in prison, on a path back to social integration. As the New York Times reported on November 1, “While the change in sentencing guidelines falls far short of proposals to abolish harsh mandatory minimum sentences and reduce the felony prosecution of lower-level drug offenders, it has been welcomed by advocates of justice reform.”

Instead, we’ve heard almost nothing since the initial hysteria. Here’s the sad truth. I guarantee that if one of those released had committed an immediate crime, it would have been all over the Internet and cable waves, especially if the person involved was pigmented. But the humanitarian shift in policy has been fairly quiet and orderly, and in terms of positive stories, I must note with great sorrow that even the aforelinked Times piece bears a distinct feature. It’s about the very Caucasian Michael Keating of Winfield, Missouri. Sigh. For members of mass market media, success bears a different color than the majority of men now quietly rebuilding their lives in the wake of the decision.

I’ve been fortunate enough to earn a journalist’s pulpit, and I’m going to use it to practice what I’m preaching to the dysfunctional members of the “liberal” media. Be braver than this. Say “Thanks, Obama!” for enacting a policy shift that this time, disproportionately and positively affects people of color. And do it without the fear and cynicism.

Becky Sarwate is the current President of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association, founded in 1885, as well as Recording Secretary for the National Federation of Press Women. She is a national award-winning journalist, blogger, newsletter editor and theater critic. Becky lives in Chicago with her partner Bob and their menagerie of pets. Keep up with her at
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