ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Journalists Worship at the Altar of Obama-mania

In my previous post, I questioned whether Obama-mania is doomed, given the current poll numbers in key swing states and even some must-win states that Kerry won in 2004.

I failed to mention that the MSM would help Obama get to the finish line, despite the tepid questions from Snuffaluffagous and Charlie Gibson on Wednesday.

The Politico has an excellent post on Wednesday night's debate and Obama's major base of support - the media.

Obama's secret weapon: the media
By: John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei
April 18, 2008 08:43 PM EST

My, oh my, but weren’t those fellows from ABC News rude to Barack Obama at this week’s presidential debate.

Nothing but petty, process-oriented questions, asked in a prosecutorial tone, about the Democratic front-runner’s personal associations and his electablity. Where was the substance? Where was the balance?

Where indeed. Hillary Clinton and her aides have been complaining for months about imbalance in news coverage. For the most part, the reaction to her from the political-media commentariat has been: Stop whining.

That’s still a good response now that it is Obama partisans—some of whom are showing up in distressingly inappropriate places [e.g. newsrooms] —who are doing the whining.

The shower of indignation on Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos over the last few days is the clearest evidence yet that the Clintonites are fundamentally correct in their complaint that she has been flying throughout this campaign into a headwind of media favoritism for Obama.

Last fall, when NBC’s Tim Russert hazed Clinton with a bunch of similar questions—a mix of fair and impertinent—he got lots of gripes from Clinton supporters.

But there was nothing like the piling on from journalists rushing to validate the Obama criticisms and denouncing ABC’s performance as journalistically unsound.
But there was nothing to justify Tom Shales’s hyperbolic review (“shoddy, despicable performances” by Gibson and Stephanopoulos) in the Washington Post or Greg Mitchell’s in Editor & Publisher (“perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years.”) Others, like Time’s Michael Grunwald, likewise weighed in against ABC.

In fact, the balance of political questions (15) to policy questions (13) was more substantive than other debates this year that prompted no deluge of protests. The difference is that this time there were more hard questions for Obama than for Clinton.

Moreover, those questions about Jeremiah Wright, about Obama’s association with 1960s radical William Ayers, about apparent contradictions between his past and present views on proven wedge issues like gun control, were entirely in-bounds. If anything they were overdue for a front-runner and likely nominee.

If Obama was covered like Clinton is, one feels certain the media focus would not have been on the questions, but on a candidate performance that at times seemed tinny, impatient, and uncertain.

The difference seems clear: Many journalists are not merely observers but participants in the Obama phenomenon.

(Harris only here: As one who has assigned journalists to cover Obama at both Politico and the Washington Post, I have witnessed the phenomenon several times. Some reporters come back and need to go through de-tox, to cure their swooning over Obama’s political skill. Even VandeHei seemed to have been bitten by the bug after the Iowa caucus.)

(VandeHei only here: There is no doubt reporters are smitten with Obama's speeches and promises to change politics. I find his speeches, when he's on, pretty electric myself. It certainly helps his cause that reporters also seem very tired of the Clintons and their paint-by-polls approach to governing.)
Hmmmm... certainly explains the tingle in Matthews' legs.

With regard to the Gibson / Stephanopolous questions, the Democrats should be thanking them for hitting him with this stuff. Regardless of how stupid or evasive his answers are, asking those questions now means that he is less likely to be hit with them in The General, since it will be "old news that he's already answered."

And, when someone with such a minuscule public record seeks the highest office in the land, the only place to get a look at the character is through his relationships and his opinions of his friends. You can find out a lot about a person by the company they keep. It would seem that Obama (seen through the prism of his wife, his pastor, his business-partners, and his hipster-doofus lefty terrorists) could be described as a self-pitying, America hating, separationist slimeball who thinks that terrorism is justified as long as it's in support of a communist revolution.

At least, that's what I see.

Of course, when you're in the Church of Obama-mania, questions about his judgment and relationships are heresy and those asking them should be tortured.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler