Anyone else getting burned out on this election cycle?  I’m not thrilled with either of the presidential candidates and disheartened at the level of vitriol that is being bandied about by Americans against other Americans of differing ideological positions.  We’re a nation divided at the moment, perhaps even more so than during 2000 and 2004.

Apart from the traditional mudslinging that accompanies every election, this year’s campaign has been marked by the growing public perception that the press is not doing the job they’re supposed to be doing: vetting both candidates equally.

There is a growing distrust that the media is coloring their reporting to influence election results.  In the past week, the media has gone on an all-out slash and burn offensive against an average citizen who had the temerity to ask a question of Barack Obama about his proposed tax policies.  Enter Joe the Plumber.

Obama met Joe Wurzelbacher while canvassing neighborhoods and campaigning in Ohio. Wurzelbacher, a plumber, expressed concerns that Obama’s tax plan would hamper his pursuit of buying and expanding a small business and asked Obama if his taxes, as a small business owner, would be raised.

In a rare, unguarded moment in front of the TV cameras, Obama admitted that he would raise taxes on small businesses and he thinks “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

It is amazing that Obama admitted (in perhaps the worst gaffe of the entire campaign) that he believes in wealth re-distribution.  What is even more astounding is how the media sidestepped the fact that he came right out and advocated socialism as tax policy, choosing instead to make Joe the Plumber the focus of the story.

One can almost hear the claxons ringing out in newsrooms across the country.  “A commoner has made the Chosen One look bad!  Destroy him!”

Soon Wurzelbacher’s voter registration, tax records, business license information, and any other public records about him were plastered on websites and in news stories all around the country.  The media besmirched his character and questioned his credibility simply because he had the audacity to ask a question that made their guy look bad.

The irony of these attacks is that they have energized the McCain campaign and the vast American working class who identifies with Joe the Plumber’s plight.

The media sent a clear message in their attacks that they would brook no criticism of the Obama campaign, and now the working class distrusts them more than ever before.

The effects of all of this on the upcoming election remains to be seen, but it does not speak well of the media, nor of the Obama campaign, to attack American citizens for speaking their minds and asking questions of those who wish to lead them.

Of his experience with the media Wurzelbacher said, “You know, when you can’t ask a question of your leaders anymore, that gets scary.”