We have come a long way since Chris Matthews told us his leg was "tingling" when he listened to Barack Obama. Well, sure, the liberal punditocracy is still playing defense for Obama -- insisting he is not really all that liberal (as the New York Times did last week) or trying to convince us that he was actually wise not to break with Reverend Wright (as the New Republic did). But more and more you see the MSM sharing tidbits of information that show him to be less than the Gandhi-like figure he originally was made out to be.
We've learned, for example, from New York magazine that Obama blew his chance at snatching John Edwards's endorsement by sheer arrogance. According to its report: "Speaking to Edwards on the day he exited the race, Obama came across as glib and aloof. His response to Edwards's imprecations that he make poverty a central part of his agenda was shallow, perfunctory, pat."
According to New York, Obama, the man who touts his ability to "bring people together," apparently only "dug himself in deeper, getting into a fight with Elizabeth about health care" and messed up by "high-handedly criticizing Clinton's plan (and by extension Edwards's)." Definitely no tingling to report there.
Then we learned from ABC News (which broke the Reverend Wright affair through that old trick of investigative journalism; somebody at the network actually listened to his sermons on DVDs sold online) that not every African-American leader thinks Reverend Wright's church was "just like any other church," as Obama had described it in one interview.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said bluntly, "I think there's no room for hate, and I could not sit and tolerate that kind of language, and especially over a very long period of time." The ABC reporter asked a probing follow-up: Would Nutter would have left the church? Nutter answered, "Absolutely."
Next thing we know the media may actually send reporters to interview congregants at Obama's church to determine whether the hate speech was a weekly occurrence and may check Obama's travel schedule for his church attendance.
Newsweek's largely biographical cover story did a little digging and found that his personal life stories as told by Obama are frequently contrived, and not entirely accurate: "like any good mythmaker, Obama sands down pieces that don't quite fit." Reverting to the name "Barack" after years of being known as "Barry," he was, according to Newsweek, a "bit of a poseur" -- a master of "self-creation" whose own yarns "made the murkier aspects of life coherent, or at least gave him confidence -- that he could author his own life story, and thus become a master of the tale and not a victim."
The Washington Post follows up with an examination of his oft-told tale that the Kennedy family helped bring his African father to America where he met Barack's mother, concluding "the key details are either untrue or grossly oversimplified."
IN SHORT, OBAMA is short on authenticity and long on imagination, putting him in the same league with Internet inventor Al Gore or Sir Edmund Hillary Clinton. It's possible that the Illinois senator lacks the ability to tell the difference any longer.
These are distinct signs Obama's media free ride is coming to an end. If all this clear-eyed reporting comes as a surprise, perhaps it should not. There are two forces at play, driving the media to report more objectively on Obama.
First, there may be some guilty recognition that the media fan club overplayed their hand, too obviously putting their finger on the scale in Obama's favor. Once Saturday Night Live made the MSM's slobbering the subject of spoofs, it was no longer possible to argue with a straight face that they had been fairly reporting on the Democratic race.
And if the Wright affair is indeed a game changer, the media will be hard pressed to explain -- yet again -- how they got it so wrong and why they failed to anticipate a backlash from voters. A little balance was needed to cover their Obama bet.
The second factor may be the media's own reaction to the Wright episode. These overwhelmingly liberal reporters were the cheerleaders who bought into Obama's call for racial unity and were thrilled to root for an African American who could transcend race.
Now they are left wondering if they have been played. The cognitive dissonance between the Obama-mania froth and Obama's decades of indifference to Wright's outlandish lies about whites, America, and Israel must be thought provoking, at the very least, for the press.
So it may have been late in coming and still be somewhat muted. Nevertheless, the MSM is getting around to taking their jobs seriously and probing whether Obama is really all that he has been billed to be.
It is not often that liberal media outlets make life uncomfortable for one of their own, but when they do, it is usually with the vehemence of a scorned and disappointed paramour. It's not every day this conservative can say: Keep up the good work!