Where oh where do I start with this morning’s NYT piece which questions whether or not the media is showing favoritism for Obama over Clinton? Oh yes – the beginning:
On the bus ferrying a group of reporters to an appearance by Senator Barack Obama at Ohio State University on Wednesday, Lee Cowan, the NBC reporter assigned to the campaign, was asked the media question of the week: Had journalists like himself been going easier on Mr. Obama than his opponent for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton?
“I don’t think that it’s kind treatment versus unkind treatment” Mr. Cowan began, taking issue with the depiction of journalists fawning over Mr. Obama in a “Saturday Night Live” skit last Saturday, a characterization stoked nearly every day since by Mrs. Clinton and her aides.
And yet, Mr. Cowan then described several advantages that he saw Mr. Obama as having over his rival. “He hasn’t been around as long, so there isn’t as much to pick at” Mr. Cowan said. “He plays everything very cool. He’s not as much of a lightning rod. His personality just doesn’t seem to draw that kind of coverage.”
“Even in the conversations we have as colleagues, there is a sense of trying especially hard not to drink the Kool-Aid” Mr. Cowan added. “It’s so rapturous, everything around him. All these huge rallies.”
It’s interesting that in the opening paragraphs on a piece where they try to debunk the opinion that Obama is getting more favorable coverage, the NYT quotes a reporter who admits it’s “especially hard not to drink the Kool-Aid” around Obama. Not only that, but MSNBC’s Brian Williams reported last month comments by Cowan where Cowan stated that it was “hard to stay objective covering this guy.”
It should come as no surprise that I disagree with Cowan’s excuse that there’s not as much to pick at because Barack Obama hasn’t been on the scene as long as Hillary Clinton had. While technically he’s right that Hillary Clinton has been on the political scene longer, considering she’s the wife of the man who was governor for 11 years in Ark, and who served a two-term presidency – and it’s no secret she took active roles in the administration of her husband when he was governor and when he was president – the press stays focused primarily on what Senator Clinton did when she was first lady and, now, Senator. She became First Lady in 1993. By contrast, Senator Obama’s political life started 4 years later, in 1997, when he became a state Senator after successfully using legal tactics to have all of his Democratic opponents kicked off the ballot for irregularities in signatures on petitions. Didn’t know that? That’s probably because most of the meaningful scrutiny of Barack Obama doesn’t come from the national mainstream media, but from the local media in Chicago, something the NYT inadvertently admits here:
Others marshaled clippings indicating that Mr. Obama had been subject to more serious scrutiny than the Clintons would acknowledge. These include articles from Ms. Sweet of The Sun-Times examining Mr. Obama’s flights on corporate jets early in his Senate career and the literary license he took on his first memoir. They also noted articles in the Chicago papers (as well as in The Times, and others) about Mr. Obama’s relationship with Antoin Rezko, a former fund-raiser soon to be tried on federal charges of fraud and influence peddling.
You get drips and drabs of these types of stories nationally, but they don’t stick around long, because the MSM picks and chooses which ones deserve intense focus and, more often than not, they’ve decided that Senator Obama’s record does not deserve the scrutiny they would give to a Republican, and that lately they’ve been giving to Senator Clinton.
Contrary to Cowan’s assertion, there is plenty to pick out in Obama’s record, as I’ve written about in a series of posts that can be read here. From his extensive ties to lobbyists, his political paybacks in the form of taxbreaks to his big campaign donors, his “present” votes in the Illinois state Senate, his failure to hold a single hearing on Afghanistan as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs, a position he started at around the same time he announced his candidacy for president, and the fact that almost every single “accomplishment” he made in the state Senate was done in the last year he served there thanks primarily to a kingmaker in the Senate by the name of Emil Jones, the Illinois Senate Majority Leader who gave BO legislation that others had worked on for years in a legislature formerly dominated by Republicans but then Democrats during BO’s last two years there, there’s plenty there for Cowan and any other member of the national mainstream media who choose to spend any significant amounts of time devoted to researching the guy they’ve been covering – and covering for.
The NYT quoted NBC’s Andrea Mitchell in trying to explain (and admit?) why coverage on Clinton lately has been tougher:
“Part of it is her campaign’s fault” Andrea Mitchell, the longtime NBC political correspondent, said backstage at the MSNBC debate in Cleveland in Tuesday. “They started with this notion of inevitability. And they were very arrogant.”
In other words, if you treat the press poorly, eventually you can expect it in turn yourself as a form of payback. It’s no secret anymore that Hillary Clinton has pretty much always had a love/hate relationship with the MSM, which dates back to her days as First Lady, and the mediots primarily have given her a pass over the years because of the adoration they feel towards her hubby (or used to, up until they joined in the Obama campaign’s attempts to demagogue both Hillary and Bill as racists) but yet and still a candidate’s personality shouldn’t play a factor in whether or not you fulfill your obligations as a objective reporter in scrutinizing those candidate’s records. In fact, I think it could be argued that the candidate who makes everyone feel like they’re walking on a cloud, the one who can seemingly do nothing wrong, should have even more scrutiny paid to them than the other, because nine times out of ten, when something sounds too good to be true, that usually means that, well, they’re too good to be true. A nice smile and a pretty speech does not an honest, upfront politician automatically make.
The NYT mentioned one recent poll they conducted which showed that half of the Democrat voters they surveyed believe Clinton was getting the tougher coverage, in comparison with about 1 in 10 who thought Obama was, but what they didn’t mention were two polls taken late last year – which I should point out that Bill Clinton has referenced – which indicated a clear bias in the mainstream press towards Barack Obama. Now, Clinton enjoyed a comfortable lead in most polls throughout the year, but eventually the fawning coverage (along with an effective ground campaign by Team Obama) converged and Obama started winning and winning big. Here’s an example of the biased press coverage BO rec’d last year:
And let’s not forget that at the same time the NYT is trying to prove that the media coverage of the two Dem candidates is, for the most part, fair and balanced, they haven’t devoted a single second to the explosive story that has come out of the Canadian media this week regarding the allegations that Obama’s senior economic advisor Austan Goolsbee is assuring Georges Rioux, the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago, that Obama’s harsh words about NAFTA are nothing more than campaign rhetoric. The only two media outlets that have devoted any significant amount of coverage on this have been the originator of the story, CTV, and ABC News. As I noted last night, even in a post the NYT had on their blog which discussed how McCain was criticizing Obama and Clinton on their NAFTA stances, the story about Goolsbee and Rioux was not even mentioned in passing. Yet the NYT last week goes front page with a four-page exposÃ© that started off with an unproven innuendo about an affair between McCain and a lobbyist ten years ago in the opening paragraph.
Can the mediots influence and shape a political race to their advantage?
To play off of an Obama campaign slogan: Yes, they can.
Related: I’ve been reading with mild amusement The Usual Suspects howl with outrage over the endorsement of Senator McCain by Texas pastor John Hagee, who has made some extremely controversial remarks about the Catholic faith and Catholic people, an endorsement McCain has said he was “honored” to receive. The DNC has even gotten involved:
His campaign issued the statement after two days of criticism from the Democratic National Committee, the Catholic League and Catholics United.
Democrats quoted Hagee as saying the Catholic Church conspired with Nazis against the Jews and that Hurricane Katrina was God’s retribution for homosexual sin, and they recited his demeaning comments about women and flip remarks about slavery.
“Hagee’s hate speech has no place in public discourse, and McCain’s embrace of this figure raises serious questions about John McCain’s character and his willingness to do anything to win,” said Tom McMahon, executive director of the Democratic National Committee.
Here’s a message for the DNC and the other perpetually outraged far lefty demagogues who are trying to gain political traction with this issue against McCain: When McCain attends Hagee’s church on a routine basis, writes both a speech and a book based on a Hagee sermon, often cites Hagee as a source of inspiration, goes to Hagee regularly for spirtual and political counsel, all of which Senator Barack Obama has done with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the black nationalist, Jew-hating preacher of the Trinity United Church of Christ – the church BO attends, then get back to me, ok? Until then, your outrage over this endorsement will stand as nothing more than what it is: phoney. You guys have no room to talk on this issue. None.