A recent CBS poll shows that 72% of the American public opposes the Republican shutdown of the government unless the Affordable Care Act is repealed or delayed. Even half of those who call themselves Republican do.  Among those who identify themselves as Tea Party some 57% approve while even among them some 43% disapprove. None of that is a surprise to me.  What is a surprise is that only 44% blame the Republican party for the shutdown while 35% blame the president and 17% say both parties are to blame. That is, a majority of the American public hold the president partly or entirely to blame for the shutdown.  This is astonishing.

No doubt part of this is the result of how the news has framed the shutdown. The mainstream media are portraying the current shutdown as a failure of the two sides to reach a compromise agreement.  Fox News and the right wing press are decrying Obama’s refusal to even meet with the Republicans to negotiate. Let us be clear here.  This is an attempt by a Republican minority to blackmail the president into repealing or delaying a law that has been passed by Congress, signed by the President and declared constitutional by the Supreme Court.  All three branches of the government have therefore had their say on this.  Yet a minority of Republican politicians have convinced the Republicans in the House to side with them on extorting the government into doing what they want or they will cut off their funding.  This is not a negotiation this is blackmail pure and simple.  President Obama has already said time and time again that we will not negotiate with terrorists blackmailers like this. And, for good reason.  Just as negotiating with terrorist about American hostages would endanger every American abroad, negotiating with these Congressional terrorists would put all in jeopardy.  If he even sat down with them it would embolden them to do it again and hold the country hostage to some other demand that we repeal or enact some other law.  As with other terrorists this governmental crisis will not be solved until the House Republicans withdraw their demands or a Seal Team goes in.

Part of the blame put upon the president is of course the racial animosity portrayed as political opposition that has always occurred with this president. Some of it is legitimate ideological difference with the president and the Democrats. Most of it however is about the failure of the media to portray the real situation.  The media are bending over backwards to show themselves as objective by presenting what is happening as a dispute and the failure to reach a compromise. I don’t know if they are afraid of losing sponsors, afraid that the Republicans might retaliate by refusing them access, afraid of losing conservative viewers or afraid of offending the big money that funds the Tea Party. Whatever the reason they are doing the American public a disservice, forsaking their own history of truth-telling, timidly surrendering their constitutional right to freely present and betraying their duty to keep the public informed. When one has to go to a source like America al-Jazeera to get a correct reading of the situation, you know that there is something wrong with the American media.

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