Jonah Goldberg

Huzzah! Thanks to a few pointed questions from the press corps at a White House news conference, the long Obama captivity of the media is at an end. The Hotline, an inside-the-Beltway tip sheet, proclaimed June 23 "The Day the Love Ended."

The New York Daily News' Michael Goodwin celebrates the press corps' ability to channel the mood of the country: "By peppering the President with forceful questions ... and by challenging some of his slippery answers, reporters captured the changing tone in the country. Like the end of a real honeymoon, blind infatuation is giving way to a more accurate view of reality."

"The press corps gets it," Goodwin writes. "For Obama, the hard part begins now."

Swamis and carnival contortionists who can fit their bodies into a Happy Meal box could learn something from the press about flexibility, given its ability to effortlessly pat its own back.

Silly me, I thought the main job of the press was to challenge slippery answers and ask tough questions, not to do that only when it helps "capture a tone."

But what truly confuses is how a few tough questions make up for months of forehead-scraping obeisance to The One. Suddenly these half-dozen reporters are media redeemers? "They Asked Tough Questions for Our Sins."

Indeed, shouldn't this be a moment for reflection on how bad the press has been until now? Instead of "The Honeymoon Is Over," why isn't the headline, "Handful of Reporters Make Colleagues Look Like Chumps"?

A week ago, CNN, the Washington Post and other major news outlets covered Obama's killing of a fly as if it was a major news event. (At least when the Russian press similarly gushes over Vladimir Putin, he's karate-chopping cinderblocks in half.)

The good news: More photo-ops are coming, because the White House apparently has a major fly problem. I know that because I read the New York Times' flood-the-zone coverage.

As Kool Aid-allergic columnist Robert Samuelson has noted, such sycophancy is a serious public-policy problem because the president is proposing a radical overhaul of pretty much everything, and for the most part the press hasn't cared that his explanations are iffier than gas-station sushi, his assurances more dubious than a North Korean press release. Obama's ongoing promise that he's "creating or saving" jobs is as plausible as the chess team captain's claim that his supermodel girlfriend can't fly down from Canada for the prom.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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