The election of Barack Obama was certainly historic, and the great attraction of that historic moment led to more history: an Obama-smitten news media that completely avoided their responsibility to test the nominee with hard questions. It made the gooey 1992 Clinton campaign look like a fistfight by comparison.
Obama faced none of the withering scrutiny applied to even the Republican vice presidential candidate. Instead, he was treated to a nearly constant string of encomiums and tributes to his transformational candidacy, while nearly every possible pitfall of political embarrassment or inconvenience has been omitted or dismissed.
The investigative resources of the networks -- who combed over Wasilla, Alaska, looking for earmarks and pregnancy tests -- showed a complete disinterest in traveling to Hawaii or the South Side of Chicago to cast a skeptical eye on any part of Obama's own preferred campaign narrative.
The big question now: If the media couldn't scrutinize the man before he was elected, why would they feel the drive to do so afterward? They won't. They worked for his election. They will now work for his administration. Past is prologue.
Take the last few Obama fawn-a-thons before the election as examples of things to come. Just one week after NBC's Brian Williams put up his dukes with John McCain and Sarah Palin, demanding to know if they would keep the pledge to avoid the anti-American harangues of Obama's longtime minister Jeremiah Wright, he had Obama on the set. The contrast was crystal clear as he asked Obama about how the poor man can't walk down the street in Honolulu mourning the approaching death of his grandmother.
"According to the press pool traveling with you, you asked to just take a walk and be alone," he oozed sympathetically. "Guess it's part of the contract you make when you run in such an extended campaign, but, the human in you, and the husband and father and grandson, must want to just bust out sometimes, or disappear, if you can't go for a walk like that?"
CBS anchor Katie Couric, last seen ripping into Palin, also used her last pre-election interview to ask about Obama's personal feelings, about whether he was a "nervous wreck" about the vote, and "If things go your way on Tuesday and you become this nation's first African-American president, what will that mean to you personally?"