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Re: Re: The Prince and His Courtiers

Jen, you make, as you always make, some very intelligent points in responding to my post. There certainly has been some critical coverage of President Obama and his Administration: there are some excellent, serious-minded reporters all around (from Peter Baker to Dan Balz to Mark Halperin to Howard Kurtz to Ron Brownstein to John Harwood to Jerry Seib to many others). The Washington Post’s editorials are, unlike, say, the New York Times’, often intelligent and reasonable, even if one disagrees with them. So one doesn’t want to paint with too broad a brush.

On the other hand, there is simply no question that in the main, Obama has gotten very favorable coverage by many reporters and news outlets. I think it’s a more complicated matter than whether news outlets admit Obama has gotten off to a rough start; in some cases, it’s impossible to deny certain things. If you have several major Cabinet officers pull out and a dud like the Geithner plan, only MSNBC could praise them as extraordinary governing achievements.

The real issue, I think, is the intensity of the coverage, the nature of the criticisms, and the issues selected for focusing on. I can promise you that if the Bush White House had attempted what Team Obama has regarding the Census, and asked Karl Rove (rather than Obama asking Rahm Emanuel) to oversee the process, the MSM would be in high dudgeon. It would be front-page news, Members of Congress would be howling, and so would commentators like David Gergen and his CNN colleagues. And the fact that some major media figures would take what happened with Judd Gregg and turn it against Republicans rather than as an indication of how ragged the Obama Administration has been is, I think, an indication of where their hearts lie.

I’m not revealing any state secrets; Mark Halperin of Time magazine, in characterizing the 2008 election, said with admirable candor that “It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage.” There’s really no disputing that fact, and I know you don’t. It’s simply unrealistic to assume there would not be any carry-over to the Obama presidency.

As a general matter, I do think that the print reporters are straighter shooters than those who appear on television, and the kind of knee-buckling effect Obama has on people who work at, say, the New Yorker, is not found in every journalist precinct. But from most reporters and commentators, Obama can count on things no Republican or conservative could. I say that as a matter of observation rather than a complaint; it is the way things have been, the way things are, and, for the foreseeable future, the way things will be. But when we see egregious examples of tendentiousness, I think it’s useful to call attention to it.


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