Have you ever been dreaming, entertaining whatever loopy narrative your unconscious mind is unleashing, and then suddenly you recognize it's only a dream and you wake up?
Well, during MSNBC's election coverage last night, in between all the manufactured melodrama of the network's ensemble cast, Chris Matthews seemed to experience such a moment when, as if delivering an on-stage soliloquy sans the dimming lights, he said:
"But I really do think it’s a strange time because we’re all watching to see who won, but as Nora pointed out, 4 out of 5, or so, of the Hillary voters today believe she’s still in the running. That this is still up in the air and I think that was probably a mistake of the media. I think in the effort of the media, to try to keep this game going, we’ve created the delusion that somehow this race is still open. I don’t think it is open. I think if you look at the numbers Barack has to really blow it in the weeks ahead to lose."
Credible political analysts, such as #1 MSNBC number cruncher and
political director Chuck Todd, have been quietly noting this for weeks.
Of course, Todd's checks are also cut by the same network with a huge
stake in stoking the "delusion" that this race is still neck and neck.
(Just as this unreality benefits all the networks and the mainstream
media at large.) So these waking moments supplied by Todd -
conveniently, the most soft-spoken figure on network news - are
fleeting. Rare glimpses of light before we're plunged back into the
ratings-generating, Iago-like gaming of Tim Russert, Joe Scarborough,
Pat Buchanan and, yes, Chris Matthews.
Todd reminded us again of this reality last night. Only now, Clinton's chances, ironically, are bleaker than they were before her Pennsylvania victory. Breaking down the numbers, Todd noted that "the pledged delegate count is basically over" and "it now appears like it's going to be impossible for Obama to lose his lead." And it's clear why Todd hedges ever so slightly, softening this dash of sobriety with the words "basically" and "appears": MSNBC desires thousands of miles more out of this nearly broken-down vehicle.
Today on Morning Joe, Matthews, along with Joe Scarborough and the rest of the panel, hailed Clinton's victory and, like Groundhog Day, picked up their ever-extended Thrilla in Manila narrative where they left off. To give him mild credit, Matthews did provide a seconds-long allusion to the reality of Chuck Todd's stark numbers, before he leaped back into the chorus and saddled up for another day at the horse track.
So if you're rooting for Clinton and you're still flush from this latest victory, or your candidate is Obama and you're still licking your wounds, remember this: the biggest winner last night was once again the networks and their ratings, with John McCain and the GOP right behind them.
Buckle up, Democrats, and proceed with caution. Right now, more than any one entity, the indiscriminate knife twisters in the mainstream media have the strongest hand on the wheel and they are driving this nomination process toward a cliff. Keep playing this game of chicken, keep operating within their craven frame of a never-ending steel-cage death match, and the only viable candidate standing - viable as in capable of winning in November - might soon be John McCain.
To corporate media chiefs, along with their friends in the GOP and their advertising sponsor pals in the defense, energy and pharmaceutical industries, this ongoing cutthroat nomination process and its very possible outcome (say hello to President McCain!) would be a tremendous win-win. And a classic demonstration of the Democratic Party's uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Especially when you consider President Bush just received the highest job disapproval rating in Gallup Poll's history (69%) and over 80% of Americans think this country's on the wrong track.
Of course, the more tattered the Democratic nominee is by the end, the closer the presidential race - and thus the higher the ratings - will be in the fall.
Make no mistake, the networks are also looking ahead to November. And their Lord of the Flies mentality has them salivating.