Barack Hussein Obama, the swimwear model, good friend of Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno, dance partner of Ellen De Generes, bowling enthusiast, and President of the United States can now credibly add one more title to his ever growing Curriculum Vitae: The American Media’s most coddled public figure. A cursory examination of media coverage concerning the Administration 100 Days reveals a breathtaking pro-Obama bias, which cannot be explained away as a simple case of the mainstream media leading cheers for their favorite liberal Democrat of the moment. Conservatives believe this universally and accept it as an article of faith. Interestingly, some liberals, notably Howard Kurtz and Mark Halperin, are admitting this themselves and are predicting that the most egregiously guilty parties “…will regret this.”
Despite this apparent ripple of liberal doubt the current rolls on and the fawning press continues. Harry Smith compares Obama to Moses, Chris Mathews feels a trickle running down his leg, and ABC’s Terry Moran contrasts Obama favorably with George Washington. The leading lights of the prestige media are singing from the same hymnbook. The question is, and always has been: Why? Why have the media gone in the tank for Barack Obama and when will the honeymoon end?
The answer to the latter question is that this infatuation will not end anytime soon. The answer to the former question is much more complex. Many commentators have advanced their various explanations for this phenomenon but they can be reduced to four logical possibilities. First of all, some argue that Obama’s personal qualities lead to favorable press coverage. True, Obama can be petulant at times and he seems quite thin-skinned when taking personal criticism. He does, however, seem generally affable and his Secret Service retinue said he was a nice guy who eschewed diva treatment and played a mean game of basketball. Perhaps the ladies and gentlemen of the press are showing their approval of a regular guy.
There is also a certain elitism at work here. People who present stellar academic and intellectual credentials can bring many liberals, who are usually difficult to impress, to their knees. In this regard Barack and Michelle Obama are the new generation’s ultimate power couple. They possess Ivy League educations, complete with law degrees. The President worked as a law professor at the prestigious University of Chicago law school and Michelle served as Executive Director of Community Affairs for the university hospital after serving a stint as a practicing attorney at a downtown Chicago firm. The media stars see the Obamas as a couple of upper middle class high achievers just as they see themselves and they extend sympathetic coverage to their own class.
In addition to the class issue involved we can also see an undeniable racial strain just below the surface. Many reporters, anchors, and commentators believe that they will earn their liberal bonafides by showering effusive praise on this historically significant figure. Many of these same media personalities are too young to have covered the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s and they now see themselves as participants in the Final Act of this grand struggle. Also, many white reporters, anchors, and commentators who heaped ridicule, mockery, scorn and abuse upon George W. Bush and, to a lesser extent Bill Clinton would not dare to subject Barack Obama to the same type of character assassination for fear of the racial backlash.
Finally, and most convincingly, there is the question of ideological affinity. The first 100 days of his Presidency revealed Barack Obama as the most ideologically leftwing Chief Executive in American history. While he has disappointed some extreme liberals by not moving fast enough on their pet issues, this simply reflects those groups unrealistic expectations and does not change the fact that Obama has turned the nation sharply to the left. When liberal media figures see one of their own they will close ranks to protect that individual. Who can forget Eleanor Clift stating in 1992 that most reporters were willing to give candidate Bill Clinton wide latitude with the truth because they shared his basic ideological views?
So, people should not expect this love affair to end anytime soon. The public can expect more leg-tingling, more schoolgirl crushes, and more generally fawning media. The Barack Obama media honeymoon shows few signs of concluding. More likely this is one romance that will last until the tropic sun grows cold.