Diary

News flash: Newsweek learns that the press is biased toward Obama

Robert Samuelson writes for Newsweek and the Washington Post. In my mind, Newsweek and MSNBC were the two news outlets that were the most in Obama’s pocket during the campaign and for the most part since the election. I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head where Mr. Samuelson falls on the scale, but he’s always worked for liberal news organizations so I’d be willing to hazard a guess.

Well now Mr. Samuelson has read a recent Pew Research report and was apparently shocked — no make that SHOCKED! and also dismayed — to learn that most news organizations had overwhelmingly pro-Obama coverage.

The Obama infatuation is a great unreported story of our time. Has any recent president basked in so much favorable media coverage? Well, maybe John Kennedy for a moment; but no president since. On the whole, this is not healthy for America.

Our political system works best when a president faces checks on his power. But the main checks on Obama are modest. They come from congressional Democrats, who largely share his goals if not always his means. The leaderless and confused Republicans don’t provide effective opposition. And the press — on domestic, if not foreign, policy — has so far largely abdicated its role as skeptical observer.

You don’t say! Samuelson goes on to give many details of the Pew study, and then dives back into why this matters.

The infatuation matters because Obama’s ambitions are so grand. He wants to expand health care subsidies, tightly control energy use and overhaul immigration. He envisions the greatest growth of government since Lyndon Johnson. The Congressional Budget Office estimates federal spending in 2019 at nearly 25 percent of the economy (gross domestic product). That’s well up from the 21 percent in 2008, and far above the post-World War II average; it would also occur before many baby boomers retire.

Are his proposals practical, even if desirable? Maybe they’re neither? What might be unintended consequences? All “reforms” do not succeed; some cause more problems than they solve. Johnson’s economic policies, inherited from Kennedy, proved disastrous; they led to the 1970s’ “stagflation.” The “war on poverty” failed. The press should not be hostile; but it ought to be skeptical.

Mostly, it isn’t. The idea of a “critical” Obama story is a tactical conflict with congressional Democrats or criticism from an important constituency. Larger issues are minimized, despite ample grounds for skepticism.

What a concept! To think that the press should examine in an unbiased manner the most radical proposals in decades is — well, it’s almost unthinkable. He goes on in fine fashion.

…Journalists seem to take his pronouncements at face value even when many are two-faced.

The cause of this acquiescence isn’t clear….

But the deeper explanation may be as straightforward as this: most journalists like Obama; they admire his command of language; he’s a relief after Bush; they agree with his agenda (so it never occurs to them to question basic premises); and they don’t want to see the first African-American president fail.

The press has become Obama’s silent ally and seems in a state of denial. But the story goes untold: Unsurprisingly, the study of all the favorable coverage received little coverage.