Friday, July 18, 2008
Why the MSM Shouldn't Be for Obama
The Onion: Time Publishes Definitive Obama Puff Piece.
photo also courtesy of The Onion.
MOST TRUSTED NAME IN NEWS. There can't really be any doubt about how thoroughly the mainstream media are in the tank for Obama. It's a phenomenon of three parts. First, they're drawn like moths to bask in the glow of his charisma; that's why we get such silliness as all three network anchors trailing along on his World Tour. Second, they can't bring themselves to ask him any hard questions or even follow-up on the softball setups he muffs. Here's a sample of that from the icily superior PBS news organization (h/t Rush Limbaugh):
GWEN IFILL: People look at your shifts on issues from warrantless surveillance to gun control, and they say, 'Who is this guy? What does he believe?' How do you begin to, in this stage in your campaign, tell people who you are and have it stick?"
OBAMA: First of all, I -- I do think that this notion that somehow we've had wild shifts in my positions is simply inaccurate. You mentioned the gun position. I've been talking about the Second Amendment being an individual right for the last year and a half. So there wasn't a shift there.
IFILL: Campaign finance?
OBAMA: Well, campaign finance, there's no doubt that that was a shift. The broader point was if you compare sort of -- my shift in emphasis -- on issues that I've been proposing for years -- like faith-based initiatives -- which, uh, have raised, uh, questions, uh, uh, in the press -- you compare that to John McCain...
IFILL: And raised hackles among some of your reporters.
OBAMA: Well, raised hackles, uh, among some, uh, uh, in the blogosphere.
Never mind that Obama's feeble defenses are mostly lies. He's being given an open invitation to spin his way out of charges that are verifiably true, and he stumbles around like a kid who didn't read the assignment and still doesn't get his bluff called by the teacher. It would be possible to cite many other such instances, but in this case it's more efficient to point to the derision the MSM has earned on this score from humorists who unquestionably share most of their political leanings.
For example, CNN is still so stung by the SNL sketch ridiculing their Obama worship that it became a point of contention at a CNN press tour in Beverly Hills earlier this week: The CNN reporters called the skit "a wake up call," but then proceeded to deny that they had ever been soft on Obama. Gloria Borger embarked on a lame filibuster:
"I think the skit on 'Saturday Night Live' made us look at ourselves.
"I would argue, however, that Barack Obama didn't get as soft coverage as everybody thought and that he did get some tough coverage. However, you took a look at the skit and you started asking some questions about being fair to both candidates.
"If you ask Barack Obama whether he was treated with kid gloves, he would probably tell you no, and if you asked Hillary Clinton she would probably tell you, 'Yes, he was.' So, like anything, [the skit] gets in the zeitgeist and you kind of take a look at it and you look at yourself and you say, 'Gee, maybe there is a little truth to that, maybe we can improve.'
"However, I don't think there was a radical turn or radical shift after that."
While critics recovered from that mental whiplash, Suzanne Malveaux began to argue that what was actually going on was that, in the natural evolution of the campaign, people -- meaning TV news journalists, we think -- started to "see Obama as more of a viable candidate" and "that naturally the scrutiny got a lot tougher and that you kind of saw that progression."
I don't think there was a radical shift after that, either, and I'm pretty sure I haven't "kind of" seen "that progression." Neither, apparently, has The Onion (which is consistently scathing about McCain, btw). Take the link for the whole hilarious send-up of MSM Obama coverage, but here is a representative snippet:
"The sheer breadth of fluff in this story is something to be marveled at," New York Times Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet said. "It's all here. Favorite books, movies, meals, and seasons of the year ranked one through four. Sure, we asked Obama what his favorite ice cream was, but Time did us one better and asked, 'What's your favorite ice cream, really?'"
Time managing editor Rich Stengel said he was proud of the Obama puff piece, and that he hoped it would help to redefine the boundaries of journalistic drivel.
It will indeed be interesting to see whether the Onion's "definitive" claim holds up after Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson, and Katie Couric start filing their stories from Europe.
The third part of the MSM liedown for Obama is the one that's dominated the news for the past couple of days -- the dawning realization that the Obama campaign has set the latches so tightly on coverage of their candidate that criticism, satire, and even humor are becoming synonymous with hate crimes against the Obamas. Most visibly, there's been the whole New Yorker cover flap, but we'll get back to that in a moment. It's only the latest in a series of incidents that caused even Maureen Dowd to notice there might be a problem with the Obamas:
It would seem a positive for Barack Obama that he is hard to mock. But is it another sign that he’s trying so hard to be perfect that it’s stultifying?
Another wag published a list of "approved jokes" the Obama campaign had given permission for late night comedians to repeat. Among them:
A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Why the long face?" Barack Obama replies, "His jockey just lost his health insurance, which should be the right of all Americans."
Q: What's black and white and red all over?
Barack Obama: The New Yorker magazine, which should be embarrassed after publishing such a tasteless and offensive cover, which I reject and denounce.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough (former House member, former Republican, former conservative) suddenly overcame years of lefty MSM programming to launch a tirade at the Comedy Channel's Jon Stewart et al:
Discussing a July 15 New York Times piece that described how TV comics and talk show hosts are hesitant to make fun of Barack Obama, Scarborough mocked, "I never want to hear anybody from 'The Daily Show' or any of these other shows ever saying again, 'We speak truth to power.' 'Cause you know what they do? They speak truth to Republicans."
After admitting that Republicans have made many mistakes over the last seven years, the MSNBC host continued to eviscerate the crew at the "The Daily Show" and others: " But, please, don't be subversive, because you're not. Because you're a hack. You're a hack for the Democratic Party and you only tell jokes about one side."
New York Times journalist John Harwood, appearing on the program as a guest, attempted to stick up for the comics by justifying, "I don't think they are hacks for the Democratic Party. People write about what's funny to them. And the stuff that's funny to them is, is the stuff that comes out of what they see that they want to make fun of from Republicans."
So it's hard to make fun of a man as remarkably humorless as Barack Obama, and they don't want to do it anyway. That's not really news. What should be news to the big MSM organizations is the terrible trap they are building for themselves down the road. This is where The New Yorker cover flap should be setting off alarms at all the print and television news, commentary, and humor outlets.
The New Yorker, lest we forget, was trying to make erudite fun of supposed conservative distortions of the Obamas. In doing so, they were obliged to use symbolically meaningful images of the Obamas and rely on the audience to see that those images were the vehicle not the target. This represents a step beyond what SNL did, or even The Onion, who you'll notice conveyed no real information about Obama whatever because their target was the media. That's the rub with what The New Yorker did; there were some quite real touchstones for the imagery they employed because satire must contain a kernel of truth or it cannot do its job of highlighting absurdities. It's that kernel of truth that's not allowed. There are some muslim threads in the fabric of Obama's life. His wife has made nice with radical militants like Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. And there is at least a superficial resemblance between her handsome face with its seemingly permanent scowl and that of Angela Davis, an avowed revolutionary whose Marxism can't help but remind us that Karl's fingerprints are all over Obama's early years as well. Does it mean that's who they are? No. But in the eyes of the Obama campaign, none of us can be trusted to view such imagery and decide for ourselves whether it's a cartoon or an ominous clue to something sinister under the surface.
CBS is clueless, New Yorkers are humorless, and the Piper will be paid.
Probably by all of us. Harold Ross has to be spinning in his grave. His
little old lady from Dubuque is now an arid, politically correct crone,
infesting the streets of Manhattan like some fatal ideological disease.
That's why Obama has been so consistently aggressive about condemning any criticisms of his wife. He may object to what he regards as unfair characterizations of "loops" and "soundbites," but she did actually say the things she's being criticized for. His attempt to put her completely off limits is ludicrous on its face, because her controversial remarks were all delivered in a campaign setting; she was soliciting votes for him when she said those things. That makes them fair game. Yet not even a left-leaning (I'm being charitable here) publication like The New Yorker is permitted to make the tiniest allusion to the topics that have been decreed off-limits. (And there are a lot of them.) All such infractions will be immediately denounced as disgraceful, personal, mean-spirited, disgusting, and, uh, racist.
That's the giant-sized stick the meticulously mild-mannered Obama carries with him wherever he goes. Venture past persiflage into substantive criticism or mockery and the stick will be applied to your noggin in a jiffy. That's the lesson no one seems to have learned from the primaries. The two most ultimately invincible figures in recent American history -- Hillary and Bill Clinton -- have both felt that stick and been knocked repeatedly to the canvas as suspected racists. Just this week, an eerily similar fate befell Jesse Jackson. He dared to criticize the perfect Obama in colorful vernacular and now he has been forced to apologize so many times that he will utter no criticism of the anointed one again.
Maybe stick isn't the right metaphor. How about brush-chipper?
All of which makes me wonder big-time if the MSM understands how huge a catastrophe for themselves all the salaaming before the Obamessiah is bringing down on their own thoughtless heads.
The New Yorker has already suffered negative financial consequences for its poor judgment. What awaits the rest of their elite brethren? If the man is elected, it's clear you can't criticize him with impunity, even with the best intentions. Start nitpicking his cabinet appointments, legislative agenda or policy decisions, and you will perish in a wave of hurt euphemisms which will make it clear to the most extreme sycophants and true believers that you are, ahem, probably a resentful racist. Watch as, one by one, the most illustrious and invulnerable of your number are disgraced into retirement for having dared to use their verbal talents against the new pharaoh. If it can happen to Geraldine Ferraro, it can happen to you, too.
Continue being the same adoring cheerleaders you've been so far -- through the inevitable crises and missteps and blunders and failures -- and the already tottering structure of the MSM will collapse in cataclysmic ruin. You will bore your dwindling audience absolutely to death, and they will begin seeking honest news reporting elsewhere. (As they have been, btw, for some time now; how's NYT stock doing these days, kemo sabe?)
The nature of your bet thus far is idiotic -- that Obama really is the absolute answer to everyone's prayers you so want him to be. He isn't. He's a flesh-and-blood man who will stumble and err and make some truly awful decisions. When that happens, your extravagantly uncritical support for his rise to power will make you accountable to many Americans before you cover the first act of his administration. And when he does take office, the fact that you have let him rewrite all the rules of what is and is not fair coverage in political reporting will do you in no matter what course you choose. Criticize him and be branded with some of the worst labels available in these United States. (The New Yorker is anti-muslim? Anyone? Please.) Suck up to him and go rapidly out of business -- not to mention lose all the power you have so jealously acquired and used so self-righteously in the last hundred years.
Take your pick.
Honestly, it's beyond me why you're not backing McCain, or at least giving him equal time. If he's elected, you get to do your usual four-year torture, burn, mutilate, pulverize him and everyone he knows or speaks to act. Isn't that just plain more fun for you than cowering in the weeds hoping God Almighty doesn't notice you from His throne?
Well. Suit yourself. You always do.