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“He’s Not Being Treated as a Politician”

On Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams, hardly a conservative, took the media to task for their Obama worship:

So you know, the problem here is he’s not being treated as a politician. The press is not being sufficiently adversarial, which is its role, to hold him accountable. And part of this, I think, goes back to the campaign.

I think a lot of people think, “Well, he’s a black man. He’s the president of the United States. This is unbelievable. This is historic. We better get on the bandwagon. We better get on the right side of history.”

But that’s not the role that the press should play. And just the way that you can condemn someone because of their race or because of difference, I fear that they’re now celebrating him and hold him — holding him and Michelle up to unreasonable standards and that they will jump off.

He also suggested that there is an element of “greed” which drives the fawning coverage — Obama-mania is good business. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that the media has simply ceased to be the independent, critical watchdogs which they once aspired to be. At times it becomes downright embarrassing — ABC moves into the White House, Brian Williams and Obama drive around like two fraternity brothers out on the town.

In the end, however, it won’t entirely insulate Obama from the normal hits politicians suffer when they make mistakes and stumble in trying to enact their legislative agenda. That, in a sense, is what is so remarkable about Obama’s recent poll slippage. In spite of the most reverential media treatment ever accorded a president, the public is already souring on his agenda and finding him just a bit less dreamy. As Mara Liasson put it, “I think the honeymoon is probably going to wind down some time this fall. If he was — if the media was in charge of everything, why has the public plan, you know, hit a road block? Why isn’t his health care plan sailing through?”

The fact that the sycophantic coverage won’t entirely “work” doesn’t excuse it, of course. The press utterly failed in its obligations to vet candidate Obama and is equally delinquent in its failure to cover President Obama in a tough, critical and impartial manner. The only counterweight for that is a loss of public confidence in and reliance on the mainstream media — which, come to think of it, is pretty much what is happening.



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