Bob Schieffer of CBS News described President Obama’s recent opening remarks at the gun control press conference as, “one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard him deliver”. Schieffer went on to praise the President’s cause as similar to the ten year hunt for Osama bin Laden and Lyndon Johnson’s successful attempt to pass civil rights legislation. Although Schieffer indicated that more than an Obama speech would be required, this wasn’t objective journalism but slobbering praise for a man with a checkered record of accomplishment.
Mr. Schieffer’s kudos was a reminder of the stunning assessment that David Brooks bestowed upon the President immediately following his re-election. Mr. Brooks, the self-described “conservative” New York Times’ journalist, stated that Obama was a man of “high integrity” and had run a “very clean administration” during his first term. He concluded that Obama would avoid the scandals that plagued many Presidents during their second terms. Brooks said very directly, “there have been signs of insularity and arrogance, but there have been no scandals”. Huh? Fast and Furious and Benghazi apparently do not reach Mr. Brook’s threshold for scandal.
Then there is coverage of President Obama’s economy. If the monthly unemployment rate drops Obama receives credit even if hundreds of thousands exited the job market in despair. In November of 2012, 540,000 dropped out as the unemployment rate declined from 7.9% to 7.7%. Workforce dropouts accounted for more than the .2% rate drop but that fact went largely without mention in the media. Conversely if the rate increases the media will emphasize the jobs created even if the amount is insufficient to keep up with population growth.
Obama’s first term has been marred by political tactics bordering on thuggery. He claimed he wanted not red states or blue states, but the United States. He claimed he would be a unifier, that he would be open and transparent and that if elected he would bring civility to the oval office. Simply put he lied. With an assist from the mainstream media (MSM) he and the left have discarded any pretense of civility. Obama’s promises of bringing to the table a range of views and seeking the best solutions was also quickly replaced with labeling those that disagreed with his actions or initiatives as morally deficient, racist, or lacking some other important character trait. Has the media (MSM) reported these divisive tactics even infrequently?
This approach has been frequently used by the liberal left in the past. But the use of racism, class warfare and sexism has been taken to new heights by this President and the power of his office. He brow-beats the opposition and blatantly use allies in the mainstream media (MSM), academia and Hollywood to reemphasize and trumpet his rightness. The alliance has been so effective that conversation and the art of the possible, politics, has devolved into demagoguery. And has the media ever suggested that being less confrontational might be more effective?
The media, in particular, has repeatedly given Obama a pass on his actions, programs and tactics. While George Bush was ridiculed and pilloried for his positions on the Patriot Act, the use of wiretaps, rendition, Guantanamo and many other aspects of “his” war on terror. Obama has maintained and extended/expanded these policies virtually without media comment. And scandals that generally bring intense media scrutiny when linked to a president have gone largely unreported or have been soft pedaled no matter the seriousness. Why didn’t the MSM profess the outrage that rained down on previous administrations for similar actions?
The Obama administration has been rife with scandal since its inception in 2009. Within weeks of the President’s inaugural both Timothy Geithner and Kathleen Sebelius both nominated to important cabinet posts, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Health and Human Services respectively, were discovered to have income tax problems requiring rectification. Additionally Mrs. Sebelius was more recently found to be in violation of Federal campaign laws which received very limited media attention. So why didn’t the media question Obama’s selection process or the qualifications of these individuals?
The ”minor” scandals metamorphosed into larger wrong doing such as green energy cronyism, the EPA-Lisa Jackson record masking activities and Eric Holder’s actions that undermined the rule of law; no prosecution of the New Black Panther’s for voter intimidation in Philadelphia and the reopening of cases against already cleared federal agents for torture. Then Fast and Furious and Benghazi materialized elevating Obama’s scandal plagued administration into the major leagues (executive privilege was also used, a major heresy when implemented by previous presidents). So why the media's silence?
With few exceptions the media has not covered, has down played or made excuses for these significant Obama administration failures in judgment, honesty, leadership, and administrative control. The media’s lack of interest in the failings of Obama’s first term leads to two obvious and important questions; first, why?...and second, will this MSM pattern of behavior change in his second term?
Causes?…first, the media and key journalists may fear losing access to the President and his subordinates if their scrutiny or reporting becomes notably critical even when warranted. This concern certainly has a basis in fact since Obama attempted to severely limit Fox News’ access and coverage in the past. Second, the media can be described as quite liberal/progressive in both persuasion and as measured by scholarly studies and may not feel comfortable criticizing/questioning their own beliefs and biases.
Third, journalists may be attempting to avoid being targeted by administration bullies; a tactic that has been successfully employed to silence other critics (e.g. conservatives, Republicans). This tactic could bring them to the attention of their liberal community and serve to at least temporarily cause personal discomfort. Fourth, a trepidation that race could be employed to silence a pattern of open and persistent negative measurement of Obama’s decisions warrants consideration. Again, the past suggests that a racist charge is possible given the treatment Mayor Cory Booker (and others) received from Obama’s minions.
Yet the reasons for such favorable treatment may go well beyond those mentioned. Obama has been treated almost as a god-like figure by some and gingerly by a majority in the media. The MSM’s coverage of the President has been so obviously prejudiced in his favor that polling surfaces an appreciable decline in the media’s credibility/standing with the public. Additionally traditional MSM outlets have suffered financially due to the emergence of alternative news sources (e.g. internet, Twitter) and their clearly biased content.
Thus if the past is predictive, little will change in the media’s sentiment toward Obama in his second term. The media does not seem repentant for their past coverage of Obama and in fact some narratives have moved to cheer-leading/positing (e.g. J. Dickerson-CBS) the goals of future Presidential attacks on his political opposition and other dissenters. The memes that insinuate or directly portray Republicans and conservatives as unpatriotic, insensitive, morally deficient, liars, racists and corrupt have continued. The media’s examination of Obama’s activities and decisions has been shameful and has progressed to shameless. The material bias in favor of Obama will remain with high probability during his second term.