A prominent academic and commentator laments the shabby treatment of then-Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori by the Japanese media. He believes, perhaps with some justification, that the media did him in because he refused to play up to them. Here is my response, in the hopes that it will reach him, somewhere, sometime, somehow.
I have not seen Mr. Mori as up close nor as often as you have, sir, but I have seen an intelligence, and diffident yet steady warmth and compassion (often seen in large men), that belie the popular image of an incompetent and ineffective bumbler. I do not know how much of this is the result of a media conspiracy to do in an uncooperative politico or the result of unfortunate circumstances (a rainmaker glories in the bumper crop, and sheds his blood in the drought). However, I do know that at least part of the responsibility lies in the one putting out the message, and I do know that you have to work with the media you have in order to do so.
Distasteful as it may seem, a good politician must be able to work the media. In that, he/she is no different from a celebrity or any other media personality. If they don't like you, you won't get the close calls and the benefit of the doubt, and the stories will end up breaking the other way. And you won't score. Remember what happened to Edmund Muskie and his New Hampshire "tears", Al Gore's "invention" of the Internet, and John Kerry's brush with the Swift boat veterans. On the other side of the breaking ball, there's George Bush's National Guard "service".
I know it's a game I will never be able to play, but that's the way it is.
As for your suggestion to take the media out of politics, I too dream of a world free of pretence, guile, vengeance, venality. But one man's bias is another man's truth, and I can think of only one way to do that takeout. And it won't be pretty. And I don't think you would want to live in that world either.