Want to know how powerful the media is? As if you would need an example, try this one on.
By know you probably know all about Former Sen. Tom Daschle’s withdrawal heard round the world. What you may not know is the real reason behind it.
Daschle’s situation is a multi-layered one. But however you slice it his decision to withdraw was, for the most part, based on the influence of one entity — the media.
Not the White House, republicans or even the Senate committee who would have grilled for days on end. Nope, blame it on the press.
In fact, no other party is more responsible for decisions that get made in Washington than the media. Whether it be newspaper columnists, cable news anchors or talk show hosts, the media controls politicians much like back room invisible hands.
Not to be confused with the crooked politicians you read about in their papers, the media rightfully holds their position and possess an almost God-like omnipresence that even the most powerful elected officials fear.
They have their own offices in the White House. If not for the importance of the media, every PR professional in Washington would be searching for a new career path.
The Tom Daschle situation is perhaps the greatest example of that. Over the last three days since he made his announcement, I haven’t heard a single argument from a single person stating that Daschle was unfit to do the job President Obama nominated him for.
All I have heard are comments about perception. So, I posed a question to a journalism friend of mine in order to get an unbiased opinion.
I’ll pose the same question to you.
Say you have a problem with the plumbing in your basement, and have had this problem for some time now.
After asking around and doing your research, you’re referred to a guy who by all accounts is the best in the business. He possesses a special set of analytical skills and has unique relationships with a number of plumbing supply manufacturers.
My question is simply this: Would you not allow this man to fix your problem if you found out he had some issues with his personal taxes?
If you’re sensible like my friend is your answer too would be no. And that’s the Daschle fiasco in a nutshell. A very qualified individual is forced to disqualify himself because of an unrelated issue.
But why is the situation so insignificant when it concerns Joe the plumber (no pun intended) and such a major deal when a potential cabinet member is involved?
The answer is simple: the media.
Now, I understand that a position such as Secretary of Health and Human Services is a high position, but it is still a job right?
And as a job of great importance, shouldn’t priority be placed on getting the best qualified person for the job?
Somehow the media has convinced the country that a tax issue, while unappealing, will somehow effect a person’s ability to read, think analytically and make crucial decisions.
The general consensus across America is that Barack Obama is a smart individual. Therefore he must have had very good reasons to select Tom Daschle for the HHS position in the first place.
To further showcase how much confidence he had in Daschle, Obama was willing to stand by his nominee despite his tax situation.
That tells me that President Obama felt very confidently that Tom Daschle was best equipped to perform this job at a high and effective level.
At the end of the day, the former senator withdrew his name for no other reason than to save the White House from another PR firestorm. Not because he wasn’t fit for the job, but because the media wouldn’t let it go.
The press controls perception and thereby control the actions of administrations. Presidential approval ratings are a good barometer of how the country views the president.
How does the country view the president? Through the lens provided by the media. With high approval ratings, President Obama maintains his leverage over opposing republicans. If it goes down, well not so much.
So since the new administration can’t afford to lose ground Daschle, who by most estimates would have gained Senate confirmation, stepped down and took one for the team.
And this is the cycle. Controlled by one central player.