Ed Driscoll

The Fourth Estate Takes Five

“There Is No Media,” Victor Davis Hanson noted near the conclusion of his latest PJM column, titled, “Brave New World:”

About four years ago, the media just dissipated. Gone, buried. Did we notice our newsreaders are virtual government employees? The media is a Ministry of Truth where spokespeople vie for superlatives — a living “god,”  a man who creates tingles in our legs and is pictured as a “messiah” on our magazines. Each sermon is a new “Gettysburg Address,” each gesture is Lincoln’s, each new Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton part of the new Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals.”

Journalists are now Photoshoppers of news: Guantanamo once bad, now good; we all grew to stop worrying and to love Predators; renditions, the Patriot Act, and preventative detentions must have gone with George W. Goldstein.

Those noisy free-for-all press conferences are now like Xerxes’s court at Persepolis, where toadies compete with kowtows. “Investigative reporting” is how some reactionary, enemy-of-the-people hacks dig up dirt on a progressive like Sen. Menendez or Susan Rice. The video maker sitting in jail and the 16-year-old American who was vaporized were reactionary troublemakers — and that is all ye need to know.

At the Fiscal Times, Ed Morrissey illustrates how badly the MSM have fallen. They’ve always (by always, read: in our lifetimes) leaned left, but prior to the Obama-Rapture in 2008, they at least pretended to shoot straight:

Twenty-five years ago, CBS News anchor Dan Rather called then-Vice President George Bush a “wimp” and got a dressing-down from the World War II pilot.  Last month, when asked by Piers Morgan why Obama chose him, Kroft replied, “I think he knows that we’re not going to play gotcha with him.”  The result, said Kirsten Powers, was something that looked more like “propaganda” from “state-run media.”

Later in the same day as Politico’s essay explained that the press is somehow incapable of asking tough questions during an Obama interview, NBC’s Chuck Todd also insisted that this had nothing to do with a liberal bias in the media.  “[T]he mythology of the big, bad non-conservative media has gotten into some offices,” Todd replied when asked why Republican politicians have become more reluctant to appear on networks like NBC.  Just a couple of hours later, Todd’s network proudly announced that they had just hired Obama’s political strategist David Axelrod as their new political analyst, making Todd’s argument just a wee bit more difficult to take seriously.

Finally, the comedy comes back around to the comedian.  WHCA president Ed Henry, who publicly demanded action and more respect from the White House after his group lost the Tiger Woods scoop, proudly announced that Conan O’Brien will host the White House Correspondents Dinner on April 27th with Obama in attendance, as usual.

The “nerd prom” is an annual event, intended to provide a respite from the normally-intense scrutiny that the media applies to a President and allow for a more congenial atmosphere.  However, given the lack of intensity or scrutiny coming from the media during this presidency, we’re more likely to see O’Brien get tougher with the President than most of the attendees.  The dinner will give Americans a break from the clown show that has been the softball media treatment of Obama.

All of which is why, as Jonathan S. Tobin writes at Commentary, “The Rules Are Different For Obama:”

Obama’s status as the nation’s first African-American president and the consequent kid-glove treatment he gets from the press make it difficult, if not impossible, to hold him accountable for his hypocrisy or his failures. As I wrote earlier in the week, the White House’s innovative strategies for manipulating the media do not fully explain his ability to evade the normal tough scrutiny that any president gets. Nor does the liberal bias of the mainstream media, though that, too, is a contributing factor.

Obama’s identity as the man who makes Americans feel good about their country renders all other factors irrelevant. This is something that conservatives struggle to understand primarily because they are immune to the president’s personal charm and speaking ability. But it is a fact they must accept if they don’t want to spend the next four years banging their heads against a wall. That’s why the GOP must stop focusing so much on trying to attack a president who is impervious to criticism and concentrate on the sort of big ideas about growth that made them the party of ideas in the ’80s and ’90s.

In the long run, Democrats are going to learn that without Obama fronting for them, their attempt to reboot the New Deal/Great Society coalition built on more and bigger government will fail. The notion that they can dominate the coming decade of American politics by spending and taxing more is a myth that will lead to future defeats at the hands of articulate conservatives who can run on a platform of reforming the government.

Until then, the GOP is stuck with the role of Obama’s punching dummy. So long as Barack Obama is in the White House, the struggle between Democrats and Republicans will always be an unequal one.

But that sounds like an excuse for the GOP to simply hang the “Gone Fishing” sign on the door for the next four years. Certainly, they have more options to fight back than that.

…Don’t they?