Obama’s Loyal Allies

The news media is gearing up for battle in 2012.

If Barack Obama wins in 2012, he can bestow his gratitude largely  on his news media worshipers.

Appearing on Dec. 25 Meet the Press, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, full of his usual arrogance and ferver, said he was deeply worried about Obama’s prospects for re-election: “I really, really worry about him. Republicans are starved for a candidate ... they think is as smart and mellifluous as the president.”

During the 2008 campaign, the network morning shows were cheerleaders for the Democratic field. In 2012, they are sure to be providing far more hostile coverage of various Republicans who are running, while treating Obama’s re-election campaign to the same personality-driven coverage that was so helpful to the then-Illinois Senator four years ago.

For instance, NBC News, Dec. 28 hyped Gallop Poll numbers indicating a slim improvement in Obama’s approval/disapproval numbers after House Republicans agreed to the payroll tax cut extension compromise, although recently following numbers indicated his approval was sliding backward.

On NBC Nightly News, reporter Kristen Welker first enthusiastically touted the out-dated and more positive number. She failed to inform viewers that Obama’s disapproval rating had increased more than the approval rating had fallen.

Excerpts from Barbara Walters’ ABC interview with Barack and Michele Obama in the White House, released Dec. 23, was defended by left-wing Media Matters publication as a conservative attack by such publications as the National Journal and the Daily Caller. Why? Because they reported the President had said:

“[D]eep, underneath all the work I do, I think there’s a laziness in me.”

The portion of the interview released by ABC news did not include the part in which Obama also says, “I’m saying to myself. You know what, you could be doing better, push harder...”

Politico’s correspondent Ben Smith fearfully is called this the “next anti-Obama talking point” for Republicans.

The Hill newspaper recently held a poll conducted by Pulse Opinion Research about media bias. The results indicated 46 percent of likely voters felt that the news media favored Democrats. “This figure outstripped by more than two to one the share of the electorate (22 percent) that believed Republicans” were beneficiaries of media bias.

As Robert Lichter, director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, told The Hill: “You never lost a vote in a Republican primary by attacking the media” Lichter has studied media bias for a generation.

Over on ABC, World News correspondent Jim Avila spun the fight as one between unpopular Republicans and a resurgent Barack Obama.

According to Avila, the country's anger is "reflected in today's ABC News/Washington Post poll, showing a job approval rating of just 20 percent for Republicans in Congress who have blocked the payroll tax cut while President Obama's approval rating jumped to 49 percent."

NBC and ABC on following days knocked House Republicans for potentially "messing up" an extension of the payroll tax cut. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell derided this as "holiday cheer gone sour."

The previous night, O'Donnell portrayed Boehner as "feeling the heat" and unable to control his own members. She gossiped, "And there is political fallout too, there are some questions about Speaker Boehner's leadership, his ability to deliver votes..."

Officials from the policy-neutral National Payroll Reporting Consortium, Inc. (NPRC) have expressed concern to members of Congress that the two-month payroll tax holiday passed by the Senate and supported by President Obama cannot be implemented properly.

ABC's Good Morning America mostly ignored the subject, providing only two news briefs on the payroll extension. CBS's Early Show (as well as the network's Evening News from Monday) provided more restrained coverage.

On The Early Show, Nancy Cordes explained, "House Republicans say that just creates too much uncertainty for the taxpayer, not knowing whether this payroll tax cut is going to expire after two months or not. And so, they want a one-year deal."

Pete Isberg, president of the NPRC  wrote to the key leaders of the relevant committees of the House and Senate, telling them that “insufficient lead time” to implement the complicated change mandated by the legislation means the two-month payroll tax holiday “could create substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees.” But among Democrats, who cares?

The best (or worst) “notable quotables” for 2011 as listed by the Media Research Center were topped by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman in a Jan. 8 blog hours after the shooting of Democrat Gabielle Grifford, indicating a supposedly danger-filled national anti-Obama environment.

“We don’t have proof yet that this was political, Klugman wrote; but the odds are that it was.....Violent acts are what happen when you create a climate of hate. And it’s long past time for the GOP’s leaders to take a stand against the hate-mongers.”

Even liberal-tilted “Fact checkers” can’t be trusted the Weekly Standard Dec. 19 issue indicated. They “come with a veneer of objectivity doubling as a license to go after any remark...they find disagreeable—particularly if it’s anti-Obama. The venerable wire serve, Associated Press “fact check” scheme can’t be trusted.

But of the most untrustworthy is The St. Petersburg Times’ “Polifact,” which purports to decide what is fact and what is not.

The Media Research Center’s (MRC) mission is to "prove — through sound scientific research — that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values" and to "neutralize [that bias's] impact on the American political scene.”

During the 2008 campaign, the network morning shows acted as cheerleaders for the Democratic field. This time around, they are providing far more hostile coverage of the various Republicans who are running, while treating Obama’s re-election campaign to the same personality-driven coverage that was so helpful to the then-Illinois Senator four years ago.

If the real decisions in our democracy are to be kept the hands of voters, then the news media owe viewers a fair and unbiased look at the candidates in both parties. That means asking the candidates questions that reflect the concerns of both sides — liberals and conservatives alike. And the syrupy coverage awarded year after year to the Democrats’ celebrity candidates in no way matches the pretense of journalists holding both sides equally accountable. 

And the drumbeat goes on.

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