Three news stories concerning the Democratic nominations have left a “bitter” taste in my mouth. First, an aide to Michelle Obama was caught ushering young black students off the stage she was due to speak on in Pittsburgh, only to replace them with young white students. All campaigns employ such crowd control (Hillary Clinton’s camp will ensure that there is a distinct lack of grey hair sitting behind her in an attempt to widen her youth appeal), and Obama, who has won the majority of the black vote, was concerned about appearing too black to the predominantly white working classes of Pennsylvania. This does, of course, run against the grain of his campaign message that he can bring together the nation in a way Clinton cannot.
Similarly divisive is the story of Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski, an Obama delegate to the Democratic convention from Illinois who was forced to resign by the Obama team after telling some African-American children outside her house to stop playing in the trees “like monkeys”—a phrase that some claimed carried racist connotations. Concerned about negative press coverage, the campaign swooped on Ms Ramirez-Sliwinski in an attempt to pre-empt the media. Ironically, a negative news story was created anyway—in disgust at such an Orwellian attempt at censorship.
Of course, it was Obama’s own choice of words, in the so-called “bittergate” row, which has stirred up the most dust. Although his comments were badly worded, the overexcited cry from Clinton that this was a clear sign of Obama being “out of touch” smacked of desperation. Clearly, both sides are tired, and with fatigue will come more slip-ups and more ill-advised decisions. As Mary Fitzgerald has argued elsewhere on this site, the longer the Democratic campaign continues, the less airtime John McCain will receive and the more voter information the Democratic party gathers, which can only be good for the party. But the relationship between both camps and the media is becoming increasingly spiky, and one wonders just how much press the Democratic party receives will continue to be good press.