I was reading an opinion piece by Howard Kurtz on CNN this weekend titled, “For Obama, it’s no more Mr. Nice Media.”
Kurtz’s position is that, for President Obama and the mainstream media, the honeymoon is over; that “The press has turned on President Obama with a vengeance.”
That immediately made me think of the power of perceptions. For example, I hadn’t been aware Obama and the media had ever been married. The honeymoon is over? The honeymoon can’t be over for the simple reason that there never was a honeymoon. When has the mainstream media ever been pro-Obama? Have mainstream media figures like Howard Kurtz have fallen for the Republican Big Lie of a “liberal media elite”?
I begin to wonder if the MSM is suffering from conservative-induced Stockholm syndrome. Certainly, after years of simultaneously defending the conservative viewpoint and being attacked for supposedly defending the liberal viewpoint, they have a right to be messed up. I wonder if, due to dangerously high levels of delusion, it is time to put the MSM, if not the Fourth Estate as a whole, away as a threat to society.
Kurtz wrote that,
Suddenly, the White House briefing room is filled with confrontational questions. Suddenly, the news pages are ablaze with scandal, and the commentators — even some of the president’s usual defenders — are bemoaning his shortcomings. Suddenly, Obama isn’t getting the benefit of the doubt.
I don’t think that in general, Obama was ever given the benefit of the doubt by the so-called liberal media elite but the conservative viewpoint has gained wide currency: Fox News did a piece in November 2012 in which they examined “Five ways the mainstream media tipped the scales in favor of Obama.”
You know what the media’s sin was? I will tell you, since Fox News won’t. The mainstream media’s sin was in actually reporting what Republicans were saying. Fox News spun this as: “The media unfairly jumped on inconsequential mistakes — or even invented controversies — from Romney and hyped them in to multi-day media “earthquakes.”
Fox News can say Romney’s problems were trivial but they were clearly not trivial for the American voter. I don’t know about you, but being characterized as an “uppity taker” cannot be defended as a “gaffe” or “misstep” unless by that you mean Romney accidentally said what he actually thought about us. The real problem for the American voter was not that the media had the decency to actually report Romney’s words but that Romney said them – and worse, believed them – in the first place.
For just about the first time ever, the Republican Party’s extremism bit itself in the ass, becoming so extreme that even the mainstream media could ignore it no longer. They actually had the audacity to, as Fox News put it, “[Pound] Romney With Partisan Fact Checking”! And of course, they’ll never forgive ABC’s Martha Raddatz for actually doing her job rather than letting the debate turn into another Jim Lehrer-sponsored Republican infomercial.
Yes, refusing to conform to Republican propaganda is apparently a form of media bias. Anything less than a free pass for their extremism is pro-Obama bias.
Another example: Fox News insists the economy is Obama’s Achilles heel. But the economy has improved, the deficit is disappearing at an unbelievable rate. The problem is not that the mainstream media has refused to report the truth about the economy – what Fox News calls “burying the bad economy”; the problem is that the mainstream media has failed to sufficiently conform to Republican propaganda. And all this while pretending that the Republican-controlled House has nothing to do with the economy, despite controlling the budget, despite spending the past half-decade obstructing any positive response to the economic debacle Republicans are responsible for in the first place!
In other words, in the real world, the economy is the Republicans’ Achilles heel, which was essentially the position of the Obama campaign. Republicans are just pissed that, for once, the truth won out. So we find Michele Malkin whining on May 13 of this year that, “For the Obama administration and the mainstream media, everything’s relative.” She complains that “CBS News President David Rhodes’ brother is Obama Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes” but she won’t tell you that ABC’s Jonathan Karl is an Alumnus of a Conservative Media Training Program. No, that would skew her rant toward the factual, and we can’t have that, because Karl is the guy responsible for, as Sarah Jones called it, “the infamous Benghazi email lie.”
Of this incident, Kurtz wrote, “The Karl report turned out to be based on an inaccurate, misleading characterization of an email,” somehow managing to fail to mention that the Republicans had doctored those emails, and ABC News’ own culpability, as though poor Karl was the victim of a hoax. That the lie worked to skew opinion of Obama to the negative was obliquely admitted by Kurtz: “for the first time, many journalists came to believe the administration had something to hide—and that they had been personally misled in press briefings. That is guaranteed to get the blood flowing.”
If the media is so pro-Obama, why are they suspicious of Obama and not of the Republican Party, which so adroitly manipulated this episode?
They may not all be Fox News, but sometimes, there isn’t a lot of difference. The Republican point of view shows up everywhere, like US News & World Report contributing editor and Fox News opinion guy Peter Roff, who in September 2010 provided “More evidence of pro-Obama mainstream media bias”; or former Bush speechwriter Mary Kate Cary September 2012 opinion piece in the US News & World Report, that “Americans Are Sick of Media’s Pro-Obama Bias.”
No, they’re not, because there is no “Pro-Obama bias” in the media. What Cary is upset about is that her feelings have been hurt by an insufficiently compliant media that is no longer quite so anxious to swallow Republican lies hook, line, and sinker.
Yet apparently, according to Kurtz, ”According to Obama’s longtime detractors, the denizens of the fourth estate are finally climbing out of a tank in which they have been immersed since roughly 2007.”
Kurtz cautions that “the reality is a bit more nuanced than that.” He tells us that,
It’s easy to say that news organizations recoiled from Obama only when their own special interests were threatened, and maybe there’s some truth to that. But the media also have a deep, abiding love for scandal, and beyond the AP phone records story, the administration is lately providing that scandal in spades.
No, Mr. Kurtz: the Republicans have provided the mainstream media with scandal in spades, 100% American made. Look at how eager ABC News was to roast the president alive on the strength of doctored Republican emails. And ABC News hasn’t even had the decency to apologize for misleading the American people.
But there is nuance. CBS at least had the decency to out ABC’s “scoop,” exposing it for the lie it is (a crime for which they will never be forgiven, as Malkin’s outrage demonstrates). The Republicans are still acting like the emails they doctored are the real ones, but then the Republicans still act like it’s the height of the Gilded Age.
Kurtz alleges that, “Some in the media rolled over for Barack Obama in the 2008 campaign, though the record was decidedly more mixed once he took office.”
I don’t see this at all. I didn’t see it then and I don’t see it now. I think that if you go back and look at the mainstream media’s track record since 2008, you will see precious little evidence of a liberal media elite, or as Sarah Palin – upset that the media dared actually print what she said – whiningly put it, “lamestream media.”
But personal feelings toward this president who has never courted the press no longer matter; nor do personal predilections on gun control and immigration reform. The scandal machinery has kicked into high gear, and its sheer noise may drown out everything else.
The scandal machinery engineered by the Republican Party and all too eagerly embraced by a right-leaning mainstream media. Bill Maher and Americans uninfected by Republican propaganda understand where the real scandal lies: in Republican obstructionism; in the mainstream media pretending Republican lies are the truth.
Reality has never been more skewed than by the conservative spin on the true state of the MSM, so for conservative Jennifer Rubin, writing at The Washington Post, a mainstream media “see no evil, hear no evil, report no evil” can only describe a MSM reluctance to properly investigate the imagined evils of liberalism. We know full well the real scope of the problem, which is the MSM’s reluctance to talk about what the Republicans have been doing to America since 2008.
But the mainstream media has studiously avoided looking into Republican action/inaction since 2008 just as it had studiously avoided the implications of the faked emails. Maybe Kurtz should be asking himself why that is, rather than pretending the mainstream media was ever President Obama’s friend.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.