Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Obamedia

Several recent media criticisms are worth reading, including Charles Krauthammer, Andrew Ferguson, and Noemie Emery. The three together offer witty and piercing commentaries on how enraptured vast regions of the media are with Barack Obama.

These comments should be seen in the context of John Harwood’s interview earlier this week with Obama. Harwood told the president that “media critics would say not only has it not come, but that you have gotten such favorable press — either because of bias or because you’re good box office — that it’s hurting the country, because you’re not being sufficiently held accountable for your policies.” Obama responded by saying, “it’s very hard for me to swallow that one. First of all, I’ve got one television station entirely devoted to attacking my administration.” Harwood responded, “I assume you’re talking about Fox.” To which Obama said, “Well, that’s a pretty big megaphone. And you’d be hard-pressed, if you watched the entire day, to find a positive story about me on that front.”

This exchange is revealing on several fronts. First, it demonstrates that Obama — who is (literally) compared to God by some journalists, who sends a thrill up the leg of others, and who causes reporters and editors to weep and choke up with emotion in simply thinking about The One — apparently believes he deserves worshipful coverage across the board; when he doesn’t receive it, he views it as a grave injustice. It warrants a stronger response from him than, say, the repression of freedom in Iran.

Second, it tells us something about Fox, which is willing to “speak truth to power” even when power comes in the form of a liberal, urbane, handsome, and sophisticated figure. There are a few other reporters here and there who take their journalistic duties seriously when it comes to Obama. But for the most part the media is, as Krauthammer said, so in the tank they ought to get scuba gear.

Third, the Obama Effect has unmasked the media. In the past, MSM reporters would argue that they were objective — or, if they were not, their own political views certainly did not shape their coverage. Or so they said. Their biases of course did shape their coverage — in both the stories they chose to cover and in how they chose to cover them. But with Obama the enchantment is so deep, the emotional investment so intense, the glamorous appeal so irresistible, that the pretensions of objectivity have pretty much vanished. In that sense, what is happening is probably useful.

Many quarters of the media have become an arm of the Obama operation. He is their prince, and they remain his courtiers. It is all rather embarrassing to journalism and, one would assume, to the serious journalists who inhabit that world.


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