According to the New York Times, the media that in 2008 couldn’t bother itself to vet Barack Obama has been too gosh darn tough on him.
A few months after President Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package passed, he began to notice news reports, but not about the jobs the bill might create or how much of the country’s infrastructure it would repair. Instead, the articles focused on traffic jams.
“Traffic Set to Slow as Stimulus Gears Up,” as the headline on a 2009 article in USA Today read.
Jared Bernstein, an economist in the administration at the time, said the articles exemplified the White House’s problems with news media coverage. “The feeling was, ‘man, we can’t catch a break,’ ” he said.
Other than the break they’d all caught across the entire presidential campaign, sure.
Privately and publicly, Mr. Obama has articulated what he sees as two overarching problems: coverage that focuses on political winners and losers rather than substance; and a “false balance,” in which two opposing sides are given equal weight regardless of the facts.
Obama wants the national press to be even less fair to the right than it already is. Whiny little baby.
He typically begins his day upstairs in the White House reading the major newspapers, including his hometown Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, mostly on his iPad through apps rather than their Web sites. He also skims articles that aides e-mail to him, with the subject line stating the publication and the headline (like “WSJ: Moody’s Downgrades Banks”).
During the day, Mr. Obama reads newspapers on his iPad and print copies of magazines like The Economist and The New Yorker. On most Air Force One flights, he catches up on the news on his iPad.
That’s a lot of reading. Not a lot of real leading.
Not that I have a problem with that, personally. The less leading he does, the less damage he does. But still, that much media consumption typically goes along with a career in media, not heading the executive branch of the government.
But being president is his first real job, so maybe we should cut him a little slack. He’s still learning.
Mr. Obama has said the lack of an effective narrative has been one of his administration’s biggest missteps. “The mistake of my first term — couple of years — was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right,” Mr. Obama said in an interview last month with CBS’s Charlie Rose. “But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people.”
The president still thinks poor story-telling is his biggest problem. In the real world, while high unemployment festered he chose to lard up his stimulus bill with payoffs to unions, and he chose to ram job-killer ObamaCare through, despite the majority’s opposition to that bill. By casting the blame on story-telling, Obama is casting blame on his message handlers and on the press, and not accepting any blame for his own poor choices.
That’s pretty childish, really.
It’s also childish to reject reality and attempt to substitute your own.
While Mr. Obama frequently criticizes the heated speech of cable news, he sees what he views as deeper problems in news outlets that strive for objectivity. In private meetings with columnists, he has talked about the concept of “false balance” — that reporters should not give equal weight to both sides of an argument when one side is factually incorrect. He frequently cites the coverage of health care and the stimulus package as examples, according to aides familiar with the meetings.
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, was previously Time magazine’s Washington bureau chief. He said the president thought that some journalists were more comfortable blaming both parties, regardless of the facts. “To be saying ‘they’re both equally wrong’ or ‘they’re both equally bad,’ ” Mr. Carney said, “then you look high-minded.”
The term “false balance,” which has been embraced by many Democrats, emerged in academic papers in the 1990s to describe global-warming coverage.
“I believe this type of ‘accuracy’ and ‘balance’ are a huge thing afflicting contemporary media,” said Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of the left-leaning Web site Talking Points Memo.
You can almost hear Marshall saying the air quotes, and you can almost see Obama nodding his head in approval. These folks on the left just hate the fact that people like us on the right exist and have a voice. The left’s hatred of genuine diversity rears its head again, and occupies the Oval Office. Life would be so much easier for them if we all would just shut up and let them do whatever they want to us. We’re standing in the way of his “fundamental transformation” project.
That’s certainly Obama’s attitude.