Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dewey Defeats Truman II

Posted by Teresa at 5:17 PM

I keep on hearing apologies that if McCain wins it will be Dewey defeats Truman II.
For example, here is the beginning of an AP article:

WASHINGTON – Counting down to Election Day, Barack
appears within reach of becoming the nation's first
black president as the epic campaign draws to a close against
a backdrop of economic crisis and lingering war. John McCain,
the battle-scarred warrior, holds out hope for a
Truman-beats-Dewey-style upset.

If McCain wins it's not going to be a Truman-beats-Dewey upset. There's one major
difference between 2008 and 1948: No one trusts our news media anymore! If McCain
wins while the media has been touting an assured Democrat victory, it will just be
another example of how badly our media gets things wrong. I imagine the reason why
the Truman vs. Dewey headline is such an historical moment is due partly to the fact
the American people at the time were shocked and dismayed that the major newspapers
had got the outcome so wrong. Newspapers had credibility in the 1940s then unlike today.
The American people are no longer shocked by the incompetence of the mainstream

Let put it into further perspective. The Dewey defeats Truman incident happened the
decade before the quiz show scandals of the 1950s. Yes, there was a period in
our history when people actually got upset that the people on their television screens
weren't being completely truthful. Today if the American people found out that their
favorite reality show was completely scripted and rigged, would we be upset?
Probably not. We mostly know that everything on television is scripted and staged.
My ultimate point is there was a time period were people trusted their media. Sadly,
this trust no longer exists.

So no a McCain win on Tuesday is not going to be another Dewey defeats Truman
moment in American history. It will be just another piece of increasing and damning
evidence of why the American people can't trust their news outlets and opinion
polls. Oh, and also Barack Obama is not the next JFK.
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