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Noticing the Media’s Crush on Obama

Give credit to veteran liberal journalist Phil Bronstein. Unlike Newsweek’s Evan Thomas, who thinks our president is “sort of God,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s editor-at-large is aware of the steamy affair going on between Barack Obama and the mainstream press and thinks there’s something fishy about it.

In a blog entry titled “Love or lust, Obama and the fawning press needs to get a room,” Bronstein describes the New York Times coverage of the president’s recent evening in New York with his wife “full-on chick-flick swooning.” An interview of Obama by NBC’s Brian Williams was more about hanging out with the new cool chief executive rather than asking probing questions; Bronstein wonders if “a little navel-gazing among journalism standards hall monitors about whether the thing had been too soft came and went.”

He goes right to the heart of the matter when he says he thought such stuff couldn’t happen in this day and age:

I thought that the Maxfield Parrish, heroic days of the Kennedy Administration PR, where the press and the president were pretty much all in on the same screenplay and the same jokes, couldn’t happen in our modern era, what with paparazzi and tabloids and talk shows, citizen sound-bite scavengers and voracious 24/7 news cycles. But now that the stumbling Bushes and smirking Clintons are out of the White House, time has compressed back on itself like the machine in the Denzel Washington movie, “Deja Vu.” It’s the early 1960s and Camelot all over again: Very attractive wife, cute, precocious kids and the hopes and dreams of at least 63 percent of the population sitting on the athletic shoulders of a young, charismatic, mold-breaking leader, Blah, blah.

Bronstein is right when he puts the blame for this on the press and not an administration, which is all too eager to take advantage of the hero worship being given their man:

You can’t blame powerful people for wanting to play the press to peddle self-perpetuating mythology. But you can blame the press, already suffocating under a massive pile of blame, guilt, heavy debt and sinking fortunes, for being played. Some of the time, it seems we’re even enthusiastically jumping into the pond without even being pushed. Is there an actual limit to the number of instances you can be the cover of Newsweek?


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