When Barack Obama replaced George Bush, there was unbridled joy among the elites. The days of "cowboy diplomacy" were over! Finally, we had a president who was a careful multi-lateralist, who wouldn't rudely impose his will, but would instead work with allies to build consensus.
But that's not what Obama delivered with Israel last week, is it? Obama went to the State Department and insisted Israel needed to stop its "unsustainable" policy toward the Palestinians and "boldly" retreat behind pre-1967 borders. A stunned Benjamin Netanyahu responded as any ally would if so roundly betrayed. He publicly – correctly – denounced Obama’s policy prescription.
Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine (and website) posted an item on May 20 headlined: "Dear Mr. Netanyahu, Please Don't Speak to My President That Way." Netanyahu, he wrote, threw a "hissy fit." That pretty much encapsulated the American media’s reaction. "Cowboy diplomacy" is just fine from time to time – if the man in the saddle is Obama.
On that night's "NBC Nightly News," reporter Andrea Mitchell was finding anonymous distaste for Netanyahu from other Israeli officials, never mind that his country was unquestionably applauding him: "I was told that even some Israeli officials, David, were uncomfortable with what they acknowledge was a lecturing tone by the prime minister. But he felt very strongly he had to say this to the world, to President Obama's face."
By the time Sunday's "Meet the Press" rolled around, Mitchell heightened the attack on Netanyahu for daring to lecture the Almighty Barack. "Netanyahu seized on it. Even before he got on the plane, he criticized the President, and in such a fashion! He lectured him in the Oval Office. And if you look at that picture that you have up there right now, it was a stone-faced Barack Obama and Netanyahu basically treating him like a school boy."
And then, some more anonymity: "People even who work for Netanyahu, some Israeli officials, told him later that he went too far. That it was, it was really rude and that there would be blowback to this."
Mitchell’s NBC sure was less outraged when Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez came to the U.N. in 2006 and denounced President Bush as a devil. Kelly O'Donnell was downright blase: "Chavez repeatedly called the president ‘a devil,’ and labeled him a ‘Yankee terrorist.’ The administration quickly dismissed the swipe....And some say that the Venezuelan president cannot be so easily ignored because he has so much oil."
The next day, Matt Lauer turned to a set of VH-1 comedians. He played the Chavez devil clip, and said "That's wacky." Sherrod Small replied, "I ain't laughed that much at a Latino guy on TV since I watched Telemundo. He's got what it takes." Jessica St. Clair added: "He's saying what everybody wants to say, and so now we love him."
Thanks, NBC, for always standing up for our president, regardless of party.
How about when that idiot Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at President Bush's head in December of 2008, screaming "This is your goodbye present, you dog"? On NBC's "Today," reporter Richard Engel excused the shoe-tosser because he had relatives killed in Baghdad. Reporter Chuck Todd went further, virtually endorsing the Bush insult, saying that "in our last poll we had 80 percent said they wouldn't miss him," and "He's already being sort of kicked out of office by the American people."
The other networks were even worse. ABC's "World News" put "Folk Hero?" on screen as anchor Elizabeth Vargas trumpeted how this "instant celebrity to many of his countrymen." Then-employed and more perky CBS anchor Katie Couric hailed how "many Iraqis are calling him a hero." Reporter Elizabeth Palmer snidely concluded the man "should do jail time, said the Iraqi bloggers, because he missed."
Did anyone disagree with Obama’s position on Israel? Apparently not, if we are to trust the press. None of the network morning shows found critics of Obama's remarks on Israel. CBS’s "Early Show" instead turned to former Clinton State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin.
Anchor Erica Hill suggested Netanyahu couldn't "give an inch" politically to the president on Israeli security. Rubin replied: "This is unfortunate for everyone, I think. Because President Obama doesn't have the huge popularity in Israel that, perhaps, President Bush had, it's easier for Prime Minister Netanyahu to have a fight with him."
CBS’s liberal guest insisted it was "unfortunate for everyone" that Obama wasn't more popular in Israel, with the clear implication that he should be. Our media feel President Obama's pain so intensely that they can't bear the thought that someone would say an unkind word to him, especially with their cameras rolling. Their outrage at Netanyahu is only a small indicator of how much they're going to hate Obama's Republican opponents in the months to come.