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Osama, Obama, and the Media

The press has rediscovered the object of their affection in the aftermath of bin Laden's killing.

by
Abraham H. Miller

Bio

May 6, 2011 - 12:00 am
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Obama’s ties to Tony Rezko, the Chicago Combine, and various pay-to-play schemes in securing medical facility permits escaped the notice of investigative journalists. When Obama responded to a question from Diane Sawyer about his relationship with then-accused (and subsequently convicted) felon Rezko, saying he barely knew the man who contributed $250,000 to his three campaigns, there was no dogged pursuit of an obvious lie. Obama’s acquisition of his Hyde Park mansion, thanks to the largess of Mrs. Rezko, would, by itself, have been a major scandal for any other candidate.

In 1972, Robert Boyd and Clark Hoyt relentlessly pursued the story of vice presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton’s mental illness, which led to Eagleton’s withdrawal from the McGovern campaign. Boyd and Hoyt had a scoop, but their patriotic sensibilities exceeded their need for adulation. They brought their story to McGovern before they made it public, and when they brought it to the campaign, everyone else got it.  Their Pulitzer Prize (1973) was for a story initially withheld but strongly pursued.

How different the media’s approach to Obama has been. Even the issue of Obama’s mentor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose hatred of America should easily have been a major story, was largely ignored until the ever-garrulous Wright kept pushing the rhetorical envelope of rage and forced the issue.

Journalist Stanley Kurtz pursued the relationship between Obama and terrorist Bill Ayers. When Kurtz asked for the University of Illinois’ records of the Chicago Annenberg committee on which both Ayers and Barack Obama worked, the university, a public institution, denied Kurtz access to public records. This should have outraged the media, but the story gained  no traction.

Kurtz learned that not only did Obama and Ayers work closely on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, but they also worked together on other committees.  Obama launched his campaign for the Illinois Senate in the living room of Ayers and wife Bernadine Dohrn. Still, the relationship between the Democratic candidate for the presidency and two unrepentant terrorists was not considered news. Obama’s dismissive comment that Ayers was “just a guy from the neighborhood” whom he barely knew was accepted at face value.

What appears to have breached the levee the media so carefully constructed around the Obama myth was Obama’s vacillation in protecting the insurgents in Libya. The right to protect, R2P, of which foreign policy advisor Samantha Power is a major proponent, has become a cause celebre for the left.

While still salivating over the prospect of bringing President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney to The Hague on war crimes charges, the hypocritical left has no problem with Obama launching missiles into Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound. Starting a third Middle East war where America’s national security interests conspicuously evade definition does not seem to be a problem, even for those who once embraced the now near-defunct anti-war movement.

“Leading from behind” became the mocking refrain of the left intelligentsia. Suddenly, Obama was no longer the strong competent leader, the messiah who would usher in a new age of diplomacy, but a hesitant politician who yielded command and control causing the flowering Arab spring to wilt.

The media now found it had an indecisive, petulant, thin-skinned, anti-hero on their hands.They argued that this is a different Barack Obama. This is not the Barack Obama of 2008. Then, just as quickly as they had scorned Obama, the media rediscovered their messiah in the aftermath of the execution of Osama bin Laden.

One wonders how they could possibly know who Obama is. In 2008, they reified Obama through his own abstract and deceptive presentation of self.  Subsequently they have gone from scorning him to re-embracing him. Throughout, they have abrogated their journalistic responsibility and have caused an appropriate loss of confidence in their profession.

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Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science and a former head of the Intelligence Studies Section of the International Studies Association.
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