The lede of this article caught my attention, as it was designed to do: Is the press giving the president a free pass? I hate giving something like this even the slightest amount of extra attention, but I started reading the article and had my worst fears confirmed: this numbskull is indeed creating a strawman that he then proceeds to beat down. Is it a common circumstance that media employees more often than not just can’t adhere to journalistic standards that are taught in school? Take a look at the first two paragraphs, absurd as they are:
The Obama infatuation is a great unreported story of our time. Has any recent president basked in so much favorable media coverage? Well, maybe John Kennedy for a moment, but no president since. On the whole, this is not healthy for America.
Our political system works best when a president faces checks on his power. But the main checks on Obama are modest. They come from congressional Democrats, who largely share his goals if not always his means. The leaderless and confused Republicans don’t provide effective opposition. And the press—on domestic, if not foreign, policy—has so far largely abdicated its role as skeptical observer.
Robert Samuelson’s internal clock is off by eight years or so. What negative media coverage did Bush receive in the first few months of his presidency, even as he vacationed away over half of the time period between his inauguration and 9/11? What negative media coverage did Bush receive in his insane desire to invade and occupy a sovereign nation that had nothing to do with 9/11? What negative media coverage did Bush receive for what ended up being hundreds of scandals, at one time showing up once a week in the middle of his occupancy of the White House? No, the media gave Bush more free passes than any president in our history – and for good reason: the Cons spent decades prior to his presidency beating the media into submission. Am I among the few that remember hearing and reading that questioning the president was equivalent to treason? The corporate media did more than its fair share to spread that meme.
Going further, what checks did Bush have when Congress was being “run” by the Cons? Rules were manipulated so that Democrats couldn’t offer any honest opposition (not that they would have, had they had the rules in their favor anyway – they’re as cowed as the media is). Democrats couldn’t hold hearings thanks to the Cons’ attempts to enact their permanent majority. Bills thousands of pages long were offered and debate on them was stifled to near nothing. Votes on bills were held in the middle of the night and over weekends when Democrats had left for the day, unaware of what the Cons were doing. Where was the media check on Con extravagence? Democrats are doing nothing close to that now – they’re offering up unprecedented transparency into government machinations. What check on power should be exercised is, of course, left to the reader’s imagination. There is no way Mr. Samuelson would actually investigate possible alternatives and offer them up for consideration – that would take actual effort.
The Cons are slowing down every piece of legislation and presidential nominee they can – this after years of screaming for up-or-down votes and getting the corporate media to beat that silly talking point over every Democrats’ head they could find. Where is the media calling for swift passage of critically needed legislation now? Is President Obama stocking the White House press with paid-off prostitutes posing as credentialed press like President Bush did? No. A thousand other examples could easily be found to further make my point.
Note also that Samuelson doesn’t provide key numbers from the poll he cites, such as negative articles about Bush in his first few months. Do the numbers contradict Samuelson’s strawman? We don’t know because he witholds the information from us. During his whine fest, he neglects to mention that Obama publicly discussed all the changes he wanted to make as President. Unlike Bush, he didn’t campaign for one stance and do the opposite once in office. The American people had a darn good idea of what Obama would do if elected and yet they still elected him by overwhelming margins, even in states that strongly voted for Bush. I’m missing the conspiracy that Samuelson is trying to create. Perhaps he doesn’t like the policies being proposed by Obama and the Democratic-led Congress. Fine, then he should write a column as such.
George Bush and eight years of complete Con control of all three branches of government proved beyond a doubt that Conservative policies don’t work and Americans decided in the past few elections they had had more than enough of them. Where was the critical media when those policies were failing? No, it was only when they had failed quite spectacularly that even the barest minimum of a critical media was born. Even then, a lot of “news” reports and even more editorial space was wasted by wondering what the cause of the our ills could be – too many disasters couldn’t have been forseen, after all.
Samuelson would do his readers a greater service if he reported that the Sunday talk shows on network television, for instance, continue to stack their guest list with Cons and not Democrats. During the eight years of Bush’s failed presidency, liberals were consistently outnumbered on the same talk shows. Now that the balance of power has shifted in Washington, the media hasn’t similary shifted its reliance on the same know-nothings that helped create or intensify every crisis we face today. That doesn’t sound compliant or reverent. The lack of this point or anything similar in Samuelson’s piece is glaring evidence of his bias.