The juggernaut was-and still is, according to a quick internet search, an enormous, towering wagon, with the image of a locally-worshipped Indian deity enthroned at the very peak of it, under a vast canopy, which is taken out for a grand procession once yearly, pulled by devotees through the streets of the city. This is no quick spin around the block and back again, for this wagon is enormous, clumsy, and heavy. Picture Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, arriving to meet Mark Anthony, or the Persian emperor Darius grand entrance in 300; it’s an arresting image, which must be why it was used to indicate a certain sort of power and will.

And it also comes to my mind, increasingly often, this election season. Rather than picturing our very dear mainstream press creatures as deep-sea divers so far into the tank for Obama that they must have a couple of handlers and a pump feeding oxygen down to them, now I visualize the Obama campaign vehicle as a garganutuan, creaking juggernaut, pulled along by the masses of our media, along with lashings of the more loudmouthed and stupider popular entertainers. I visualize them straining at the chains, the ropes that bind them to the axles of this impossibly heavy vehicle as they tug it painfully onward, as they push at the back of it. They lean their shoulders to the wheels, willing the tottering structure ever onward towards the finishing line. They will accomplish this, of course – it is in the power of their will to move the One to glorious victory, and never mind those concepts – or those among them who fall under the wheels or are crushed against the side of a stone building as the juggernaut lurches briefly out of control.

I have honest to god never seen it as bad as this, as blatant – and I was paying attention during the last election. As hard as they could, the mainstream media couldn’t make the sow’s ear that was John Kerry into a presidential silk purse. It wasn’t for lack of trying, though – and they weren’t helped that he appeared to have all the actual, personal charm and charisma of Frank Burns and Eddie Haskell put together.

This time, they appear to have thrown any pretense at impartiality under the wheels. What can you think after seeing the storm of vicious editorials and outright fantasies about Governor Palin that somehow appeared out of the clear blue, upon being named to the VP seat? How can anyone not compare and contrast the energetic digging into her past, personal life and professional career in the last few weeks, with the elaborate disinterest in Senator Obama’s over the last 18 month and not begin to wonder if there is something just a little unbalanced about this sense of focus.

It’s not been unknown for members of the working press to have sentimental favorites – look, they about got down and drooled over John. F. Kennedy, and the deity knoweth some of the old press guys and gals still view him through a hagiographic haze. Similarly, Lyndon Johnson was so universally despised by the press and the intelligentsia that I (as a middle school kid just getting interested in that kind of stuff) rather felt sorry for him. Nixon was loathed, and Gerald Ford lampooned as a clumsy oaf – but in between all that, the serious media still were capable of some kind of detachment. Well, mostly – and mostly those in the middle of the road, not veering off onto the lunatic fringe. Which sense of impartiality still lingered long among us- but it just seems now the lunatic fringe is driving the whole thing. And that sense of even-handed detachment is what the media is losing, or has already lost this season. It’s gone; no one who has been paying attention the last couple of weeks, months, years – no one believes that mainstream media is neutral and independent any more. They are become the organ of state, or the state that they hope will be, once they drag the juggernaut over the finish line.

It’s as if NPR and the New York Times were about to morph into Pravda, or the state media in one of those third-world nations where el Presidente’s cousin is the head of the national press council – and no one dare print or broadcast a critical word about either of them. What a pity – for a lot of the last century, being a journalist in the mainstream American media was a respected profession . . . and now they are reduced to shoveling out propaganda and dragging the juggernaut along.

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