Jewish World Review Nov. 18, 2013/ 16 Kislev, 5774
Sooner or Later, Mr. Obama, Reality Matters
By Bernard Goldberg
Journalists fell head over heels for Barack Obama early on. Chris Matthews wasn't the only one who got a thrill up his leg when Mr. Obama spoke. A lot of them were swooning. They just weren't as shamelessly blunt as Matthews. After all, Barack Obama was everything they had been waiting for. He was young and cool and liberal and black. He was The One who represented a moment in history, and they weren't going to let his inexperience or any other inconvenient reality stand in his way, or theirs. When the National Journal said Barack Obama was the most liberal member of the Senate, instead of contemplating the implications, the national press corps yawned.
That's why they ignored his relationship of several decades with a bigoted minister for as long as they could. When those tapes came out, they had to report it. But they didn't have to dwell on it. And they didn't.
They played down his relationship with a one-time terrorist, a man who wanted to bring down the American government with bombs.
Later, when he and Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid spent nearly a trillion dollars to stimulate the economy, the mainstream media didn't spend a lot of time on the fact that all that money pretty much went down the drain with precious little to show for it.
And when the economy remained sluggish year after year, they reported what they had to and not much more, often treating the president as an innocent bystander in the whole thing.
When four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, were murdered in Benghazi, they played the role of stenographer again and wrote down that the president said that those who were responsible would be punished. They weren't. And the so-called mainstream media moved on to other things.
When he said he would not tolerate agents of the IRS targeting conservatives, they wrote that down too. And when the president wanted the story to go away, his loyal supporters in the media coincidentally also lost interest.
They were all "phony scandals," the president said. And his admirers in the press nodded in agreement.
And throughout the lead up to the president's single most important piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, they reported what he said, despite the fact that what he said wasn't true. A few journalists noted that the president's promise If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it, period wouldn't hold up. But almost every major news organization in America simply accepted the president's word, confusing their loyalty to him with their responsibility to the American people.
But now, something has changed. Now, they're hammering the president with tough questions along the lines of, "What did he know and when he did he know it." They're questioning his honesty. Journalists are finally doing their job. So let's give them one cheer, but only one. Journalists, you see, like Mr. Obama's fellow Democrats, have made a decision: They're not going down for the count, not for his blunders, no matter how much they like this president. But that may very well change.
Those Democrats, who like zombies parroted the president's promises about how we all could keep our insurance plan and our doctor and all that, now are saying, the American people deserve better. The president misled the folks, these Democrats are saying, and they want everyone to know that they're hopping off the Obama Express. They have decided, they want us to believe, that they're looking out for the American people. Well not all the American people; just the ones in their state who might not vote to re-elect them in 2014 because of ObamaCare.
Looking back, you can't help but conclude that Barack Obama was such a narcissist that he thought he could get away with anything, simply because he was Barack Obama. Like his friends in the media, he also knew he was young and cool and liberal and black. That was his ticket. His get out of jail card to free him from the kind of bad press a Republican would have received over the Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers and the economy and Benghazi and the IRS.
A few weeks ago, I told Bill O'Reilly on his TV show that I have a lot of admiration for magic, which is what Barack Obama has been using to mesmerize a good portion of the American people. Whether you like him or not, an honest evaluation would conclude that he has that certain something something W never had, and most politicians don't have. So even when the American people didn't especially like his policies, plenty of them still liked him. But, as I also told O'Reilly, things are obviously changing. The magic is wearing thin, mainly because ObamaCare affects people in a way that Benghazi or the IRS never did. I also said the media seemed to be falling out of love with him. Lose the American people and the media, I said, and for the first time Barack Obama might be in some real hot water.
Sooner or later, reality matters. And when it does, magic fades. Mr. Obama is figuring that out. I'm still not sure about journalists. They're hammering him today. But they have a lot invested in him. They were supposed to chronicle history. Instead, they opted for helping shape history. Barack Obama was their guy. Before this ends, he may be again. It's not easy to fall out of love. Especially when it's been a slobbering love affair.
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JWR contributor Bernard Goldberg, the television news reporter and author of several bestselling books, among them, Bias, a New York Times number one bestseller about how the media distort the news. He is widely seen as one of the most original writers and thinkers in broadcast journalism. Mr. Goldberg covered stories all over the world for CBS News and has won 10 Emmy awards for excellence in journalism. He now reports for the widely acclaimed HBO broadcast Real Sports.
He is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey and a member of the school's Hall of Distinguished Alumni and proprietor of BernardGoldberg.com.
© 2011, Bernard Goldberg