Commentary Magazine


Why So Upset?

The media is storming mad at Barack Obama for breaking his campaign finance pledge. There were other issues on which he has flipped and other ploys, including ducking the media, which you think would have gotten a bigger rise out of them. However, this is the first issue which has triggered an avalanche of bad press. Why?

I think the explanation is two-fold. One, the mainstream media adores campaign finance reform and obsesses over the influence of money in politics. To be left at the reform altar — by the dream groom no less — must be disillusioning in the extreme. Second, the ham-handedness with which Obama tried to convince voters that it was all the Republicans’ fault that he had to opt out of public financing was likely a bridge too far in the credibility game, even for the media. Many, from David Brooks and Mark Shields to the Washington Post, seemed more annoyed about the “self-congratulatory back-patting” and “operatic” lying about his motives than anything else. If it’s anything the media hates it’s cant and hypocrisy and they found Obama guilty of both this week. Whether it will impact their coverage going forward remains to be seen.