Jewish World Review Dec. 28, 2010 / 21 Teves, 5771
A Year-Ender --- The MSM and Obama's Fall from Grace
By Bernard Goldberg
It wasn't just Chris Mathews' embarrassing admission that he "felt this thrill going up my leg" when he heard candidate Obama speak. Chris is entitled to comment. He's a commentator, after all. But this wasn't political commentary. This was a man crush.
And it wasn't just David Gergen's observation on CNN that Mr. Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver wasn't really a speech so much as it was a work of art. "In many ways," Gergen said, "it was less a speech than a symphony. It moved quickly, it had high tempo, at times inspiring, then it became more intimate, slower. … It was a masterpiece." I wonder how many Americans got diabetes right there in their living rooms just listening to Gergen's syrupy analysis.
The corruption went far beyond over-the-top commentary. It was the way so many supposedly objective journalists covered the campaign. The project for Excellence in Journalism looked at more than 2,400 stories from 48 news outlets during a critical six-week period of the campaign after the political conventions in early September through the final presidential debates in mid-October. The study found that while only 29 percent of the "quotations, assertions and innuendoes" in stories about Mr. Obama were negative, nearly twice as many 57 percent of the references to John McCain were negative.
Deborah Howell, the ombudsman at the Washington Post said, "Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got."
You get the point. So how could so much fawning coverage be bad for the president? Well, when the sun came up the morning after Election Day, while most of the media were still swooning from the night before, Joe Scarborough, on his MSNBC show Morning Joe, threw a bucket of cold water all over the mainstream media.
"I'll tell you my biggest fear for Barack Obama: He has been sainted. He is Saint Barack. The same mainstream media that tried so desperately to get him elected has engaged in hyperbole, engaged in exaggeration. They have deified this man while destroying everybody that got in his path."
He was right about that, of course, and he was right when he went on to say this: "And what they have done for Barack Obama" was that "they have set up such unrealistic expectations, that no politician could meet those expectations. I just hope that all of the people who got involved in this election do not become disillusioned when he doesn't reach those lofty heights. … Americans will find he doesn't walk on water and I'm concerned for him when that happens."
Well, it happened this year. The mid-term election was a referendum on President Obama and the voters concluded that when he tried to walk on water he got wet. They discovered that he wasn't a messiah, but simply a politician. And that's when the disillusionment set in more than it would have if the media had portrayed him in a more down-to-earth, realistic way.
President Obama, of course, wasn't an innocent victim in all of this. With the help of his Democratic pals in Congress, he spent nearly a trillion dollars on a stimulus bill the voters concluded wasn't worth it. He shoved ObamaCare down their throats, something else the American people didn't want. He sued Arizona over it's anti-illegal immigration law, alienating still more Americans. And he needlessly got involved in the Ground Zero mosque controversy, once again coming down on the opposite side of a majority of the American people.
So president Obama did plenty to hurt himself. But the mainstream media that fell in love with him two years ago were his enablers. The bill for all that slobbering has come due. The president's approval rating is down to between 40 (Fox poll) and 45 percent (Gallup), the lowest of his presidency. On Inauguration Day it was 79 percent. It could never stay that high, of course, but the president can thank his friends in the media for contributing to his fall from grace.
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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.
© 2010, Bernard Goldberg