The first week in October saw a stunning turnabout in coverage of Barack Obama. Pro-Obama coverage might have hit its peak on Monday, October 5, when CNN’s Situation Room aired an astonishing segment “fact checking” a comedy sketch. No joke.
The skit had appeared two days earlier on Saturday Night Live. Fred Armisen, playing President Obama, delivered a speech in which he said, “When you look at my record, it’s very clear what I have done so far. And that is nothing.” He continued: “Almost one year and nothing to show for it. You don’t believe me? You think I’m making it up? Take a look at this checklist.” He then rehearsed a series of campaign promises — closing Guantanamo, improving Afghanistan, taking over the health care system, and so on-and declared all of them undone.
CNN interviewed Bill Adair of the St. Petersburg Times’s PolitiFact.com, one of those supposedly nonpartisan fact-checking outfits, which had actually published a “study” of the SNL skit earlier that day. Adair said:
I think SNL tended to kind of gloss over what is a — a fair amount of progress by this administration, about sending two additional brigades to Afghanistan. We rated that [as] a promise kept. On Iraq, Saturday Night Live said not done and, of course, that’s true, they’re not done. But they hadn’t promised to be done by now.
CNN reporter Kareen Wynter added, “As for health care, Adair says SNL also got it wrong, since that legislation is still stalled in Congress.” Which means it had been done? “But Adair says the sketch did get some things right, like Guantanamo Bay. PolitiFact says the president has fallen short on that promise.”
If only CNN had been around back in the days of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players, Americans might have learned that President Ford was not actually as clumsy as Chevy Chase’s portrayal made him out to be, and that the Al Franken Decade in fact began long after 1980. Then again, the program got some things right. Generalissimo Francisco Franco was still dead.
But seriously, folks, CNN’s decision to speak power to mirth is emblematic of the news media’s attitude in the age of Obama. Reporters frequently are not only supportive of, or even enthusiastic about, the president, but also protective of him, as if he were too delicate or unformed for the rough-and-tumble of politics and world leadership, not to mention satire. On October 8, veteran diplomatic correspondent Barry Schweid began an Associated Press dispatch this way:
The woes keep piling up for President Barack Obama. While it is unfair to blame him for all the world’s problems (although some folks try) there is no question he is having trouble finding the right answers.
Which is true, but only to the extent that it is true of every president, including George W. Bush.
The next day, everything changed. The Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that Obama was the winner of the Peace Prize, and even many of the president’s media admirers could not help but notice his lack of accomplishments. Time’s Joe Klein: “This prize is premature to the point of ridiculousness.” Peter Beinart, former editor of The New Republic: “I like Barack Obama as much as the next liberal, but this is a farce. He’s done nothing to deserve the prize.” Michael Tomasky, Washington correspondent for London’s left-wing Guardian: “This is so out of nowhere that it could be almost embarrassing for the White House.”
A few Obama backers tried gamely to justify the award, including the New York Times editorial page:
Certainly, the prize is a (barely) implicit condemnation of Mr. Bush’s presidency. But countering the ill will Mr. Bush created around the world is one of Mr. Obama’s great achievements in less than nine months in office.
The argument refutes itself. If Obama has changed the so-called world’s attitudes, why is the Norwegian Nobel Committee still rebuking George W. Bush, now a private citizen in Dallas? This Peace Prize differs from those in 2002 (Jimmy Carter), 2005 (Mohamed ElBaradei), and 2007 (Al Gore) only in that the earlier recipients at least had done something.
But maybe the Norwegians, by taking Obamania to such an absurd
extreme, have done a service to
the American media. Perhaps journalists will be embarrassed into remembering that their job is not to cheerlead but to hold the powerful to account. One can at least have the audacity to hope.
This column noted last month that many mainstream media outlets, especially the New York Times, had been slow to pick up on a trio of Obama-related scandals: the extremist background of Van Jones, the former “green jobs” czar, who among other things had signed a 9/11 conspiracy petition; the child sex-slavery sting against ACORN, the left-wing advocacy and community-organizing group that has been closely allied with Barack Obama; and the August conference call on which officials from the National Endowment for the Arts and the White House urged federally subsidized artists to produce propaganda supporting the president’s legislative initiatives.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online