The Obama Speech Flap: Case Study in Liberal Media Bias Attempted and Abandoned

This time even the Washington Post couldn't hide it.

Why does the mainstream media continue to do this? Why does it try to make fair analysis look like right wing bias by refusing to admit the obvious?

I am genuinely perplexed.

I wrote about the President’s petty and inept effort to upstage the GOP presidential debates earlier than most. concluding that 1) it was intentional, 2) it showed, as usual, awful leadership instincts; 3) it would make the likelihood of Republican cooperation in essential policy initiatives worse, not better, and finally, 4) that the White House, once it was blocked by Speaker Boehner, was lying when it claimed that the conflict was accidental.

This was not some calculated ideological spin; I don’t do that.  I may be full of baloney sometimes, but I don’t do that. My analysis was based on conventional and scholarly knowledge of what constitutes leadership, fairness, and professionalism. But the President’s media cheering section, which has mastered the art of making objective criticism seem like “conservative attacks”, once again attempted to misrepresent the story to suit the kind of political agenda objective journalists are ethically bound to avoid.

Here’s the Washington Post in its early edition yesterday:“The dust-up underscored Obama’s dilemma as he attempts to show progress on the economy while distancing himself from a dysfunctional Washington.”

What? The “dust-up” showed the President intentionally making Washington more dysfunctional! How could it be otherwise, when he chose to show total disdain for the opposition party’s nominating process, creating a scheduling conflict when doing so was completely unnecessary, and when he had shown more deference to “Dancing With the Stars” only a few months ago?

But  the conservatives were weighing in by the time the Post hit the doorsteps around D.C….the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, blogger Ann Althouse, Rush/Sean/Mark and Fox, and many more, all stating the obvious, enthusiastically, perhaps, because it underscored past criticism of Obama, but also accurately. Obama had tried to sock it to the Republicans in a petty tactic especially inappropriate given the importance of the topic of his speech, and especially foolish given that whatever he proposes will need GOP support. Next, a bit behind, the liberal leaning outlets, like Politico, arrived at the same conclusion. When Democratic strategist James Carville said Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the White House’s attempt to step on the debate had been wrong and “out of bounds,” it was clear that the jig was up.

Damn, said the Post. Guess it’s not going to work…this time.  I suppose we’ll just have to tell the truth. So later in the day, after slavishly following the White House lie that, heavens to Betsy! There was no intentional ploy in the President’s choice of speech times!, thus setting up any objective observer, such as Ethics Alarms, as part of the right wing attack machine when it drew rational conclusions from apparent facts, the Post starts saying what everyone—everyone but a biased media determined to protect the President at the cost of its last pathetic shreds of integrity, that is—was saying at the beginning:

“Obama had aggressively scheduled his speech for precisely the same time this coming Wednesday as a long-scheduled Republican presidential candidates debate in California. But the gambit backfired when Boehner (R-Ohio) objected and forced him to come Thursday instead, providing instant fodder for pundits, bloggers and the Twitterverse.”

Yes, gambit. An intentional tactic, not, as the White House still claims, an inadvertent scheduling snafu that those mean old conservatives are making such a big deal out of.  Now the suddenly critical Post wasn’t painting the incident as an example of poor, reasonable, “only adult in the room” Obama trying to separate himself from a nasty political environment, as it had earlier in the day:

“…Yet the nothing-to-see-here spin was hard to square with the fact that it was the White House that created the drama in the first place. In announcing Obama’s intent to speak at the same time as the Republican debate, Carney on Wednesday called it “coincidental” and went to great pains to suggest that scheduling a rare joint session required significant planning and that the date had been carefully selected.

“There are a lot of factors that go into scheduling a speech before Congress, a joint session speech,” Carney had said. “There are other issues that you have to deal with, as well as congressional scheduling and the president’s scheduling.”

“Contrast that with the breezy air Carney assumed a day later after Boehner rejected the date: “If Thursday’s the day, Thursday’s the day. It’s irrelevant. It’s small stuff. Wednesday was the soonest possible day upon Congress’s return from recess. But Thursday is fine with us.”

“The public, Carney said, doesn’t “give a lick what day the president speaks before Congress. They want to hear from him, want to know what his proposals are, want to know if he has serious, sound ideas to grow the economy and create jobs.”

“Right, a reporter said, but if the president and Congress can’t agree on a calendar date for a speech, how could the American people expect them to pass a major jobs plan to boost the ailing economy?

Exactly. Which is also what Ethics Alarms posted Wednesday evening, only to find itself briefly in a mob of furious right wingers, as the Post and its colleagues tried to sit back and say, “See? This is just a conservative story!”

And were willing to lie to the public to do it. This time, it didn’t work

Well, I guess I answered my own questions. “Why does the mainstream media continue to do this? Why does it try to make fair analysis look like right wing bias by refusing to admit the obvious?”

They do it because it works a lot of the time, perhaps even most of the time. They also do it because politically sympathetic citizens who should and usually do display more integrity, continue to allow the media to behave this way by denying that its obvious bias exists. This gives the Post and others license to deceive and manipulate.

I wonder when all of the public, and not just those in the center and on the right, will demand that it stops.


UPDATE: Give the Post credit, though: the die-hard Obama media defenders, notably the New York Times, have moved to the “change the subject by blaming the Republicans” tact, and the Post has had the self-respect not to follow. According to the Times, it was disrespectful for Boehner not to let the President demand that Congress assent to his efforts to sabotage the GOP candidates debate…as if POTUS has the right to dictate to the Legislative branch in the interest of pure politics. Well, he doesn’t.

Obama is the one who denigrated and degraded his high office by stooping to petty tricks; Boehner cannot be faulted for refusing to play along. Act like a leader of a nation, Mr. President, and you shall be treated as one.

I honestly believe that he does not know how.

8 thoughts on “The Obama Speech Flap: Case Study in Liberal Media Bias Attempted and Abandoned

  1. The people that let the media tell them what they ae thinking, are the same people that want the govenment to do everything for them. The media does our thinking, the governmant supports and takes care of all my needs. Mindless twits…

  2. I can’t figure out how you or the Post can be so sure about this. My take–it would have been stupid for the WH to intentionally schedule the speech on Wednesday, because it would have had the debate stepping on Obama’s story. It would have been incompetent for them to schedule it for Wed without knowing about the debate. Incompetent or stupid? I can’t be sure. can you?

      • I must also ask how anyone can believe that this hyper-political, eternally canpaigning (since it’s the only thing it does well) crowd wouldn’t know when the GOP debate was. It is Rick Perry’s first one, and the campaign team undoubtedly will be scouting the debate like the Red Sox watch the Yankee’s games before a series.

        I mean, really.

  3. I am totally confused at this point. It is said that the President’s office contacted Boehner’s office earlier in the day and got no objection, so they sent the letter. Why didn’t they object earlier? And also that the sponsors of the debate offered to delay it by one hour. It seems like this would be great fodder for the Republicans during the debate. As it stands, having the speech on the opening night of pro-football will only increase the President’s viewership and obliterate any response afterward, because everyone will change the channel. And, he will have the debate to respond to. I don’t think I have any opinion at all except that everyone involved was petty, and the media blew it all out of proportion.

    • You’re wildly wrong, Jan. I hate that reasoning, frankly—a party being treated shabbily is petty by not letting the other party get away with it. It was an unsportsmanlike, collegial and intentionally disrespectful act by Obama, and the fact that it was on a relatively minor point doesn’t make it less significant.

      The response by the House leader wasn’t immediate because the request caused an automatic conflict between Boehner’s duties to Congress, the President, and his own party. He thought about it, and did the right thing.

  4. Had it been the other way around- the President scheduling the speech and making the schedule available to Congress and/or the public, and the Republican Party scheduling the debate on the night of the speech- the New York Times would still say the exact same things about the issue.

    I know the Times’s target market is the Tri-State area, a predominantly liberal market, but even people there should expect intellectual honesty.

    • Excellent observation, and I would challenge anyone to make a a case to the contrary. Using the debate to intentionally conflict with the speech would be condemned by the Times as outrageous and disrespectful. This is more than a double standard, this is NO standard. I would expect a higher standard of dignity and fairness from a President, which, apparently makes me a partisan.

      In America, respect for the office of the President does not mean tolerating, accepting or being respectful to conduct that is beneath the office. The Times, which loathed Richard Nixon,is encouraging Obama to be Nixonian.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.