Rex Murphy, in Canada’s National Post, says something out loud in a major media publication that many of us have been saying since before the last presidential election:
As the bad economic news continues to emanate from the United States — with a double-dip recession now all but certain — a reckoning is overdue. American journalism will have to look back at the period starting with Barrack Obama’s rise, his assumption of the presidency and his conduct in it to the present, and ask itself how it came to cast aside so many of its vital functions. In the main, the establishment American media abandoned its critical faculties during the Obama campaign — and it hasn’t reclaimed them since.
Much of the Obama coverage was orchestrated sychophancy. They glided past his pretensions — when did a presidential candidate before “address the world” from the Brandenberg Gate in Berlin? They ignored his arrogance — “You’re likeable enough, Hillary.” And they averted their eyes from his every gaffe — such as the admission that he didn’t speak “Austrian.”
The media walked right past the decades-long association of Obama with the weird and racist pastor Jermiah Wright. In the midst of the brief stormlet over the issue, one CNN host — inexplicably — decided that CNN was going to be a “Wright-free zone.” He could have hung out a sign: “No bad news about Obama here.”
The media trashed Hillary. They burned Republicans. They ransacked Sarah Palin and her family. But Obama, the cool, the detached, the oracular Obama — he strolled to the presidency.
Note the point here. It isn’t that they didn’t do their job on everyone, it’s that they essentially abrogated their responsibility for only one. His point about Palin, regardless of how you feel about her, is dead on. The difference between the treatment of the two is what proves Murphy’s point and validates what many of us have complained about since then.
Murphy spends some time on the Palin/Obama comparison and clearly he’s hitting the crux of the problem with that comparison. We went from the one side where detrimental news was ignored with Obama to a veritable media feeding frenzy where rumor was as good as fact and everything that might possibly hurt a candidate was published.
As a result, the press gave the great American republic an untried, unknown and, it is becoming more and more frighteningly clear, incompetent figure as President. Under Obama, America’s foreign policies are a mixture of confusion and costly impotence. It is increasingly bypassed or derided; the great approach to the Muslim world, symbolized by the Cairo speech, is in tatters. Its debt and deficits are a weight on the entire global economy. And the office of presidency is less and less a symbol of strength.
To the degree the press neglected its function as watchdog and turned cupbearer to a styrofoam demigod, it is a partner in the flaws and failures of what is turning out to be one of the most miserable performances in the modern history of the American presidency.
Irresponsibility has consequences, and I agree with Murphy, the press shares a great deal of responsibility for the election of Barack Obama and the resulting disaster he is as a president.
The media destroyed itself in that election cycle and has really done nothing to regain what shred of credibility it had previous to that time. It still, in many ways, aids and abets this administration’s incompetence.
I’m not sure how they can win back their tattered credibility and the media certainly has no claim to objectivity after that performance. I have to agree, in terms of the media, that it has to be in at least the top 3 “ most miserable performances” … not of the presidency, this one is in the top spot for miserable performances … but of the media in a campaign. And I’m having trouble thinking of the other two that might outrank the disgraceful 2008 media performance.