The Politico, in an April 18 headline, stated the obvious "Obama’s secret weapon: The media," though it’s not much of a "secret" weapon. John F. Harris and Jim Vandehei noted the backlash against ABC for daring to ask the tough questions, and many mainstream journalists rallying behind Obama after the debate.
"Last fall, when NBC’s Tim Russert hazed Clinton with a bunch of similar questions — a mix of fair and impertinent — he got lots of gripes from Clinton supporters.
"But there was nothing like the piling on from journalists rushing to validate the Obama criticisms and denouncing ABC’s performance as journalistically unsound."
John Harris, formerly of the Washington Post, called for many journalists to "go through detox, to cure their swooning over Obama’s political skill" and noted even co-writer Jim Vandehei "seemed to have been bitten by the bug after the Iowa caucus." Vandehei admitted he found Obama to be "pretty electric myself."
The largest complaint among Obama and his supporters is that there were not enough policy based questions, yet Harris and Vandehei noted "the balance of political questions (15) to policy questions (13) was more substantive than other debates this year that prompted no deluge of protests. The difference is that this time there were more hard questions for Obama than for Clinton."
Obama mania has struck the media and led to their strong criticism of ABC’s debate performance. The article focused in on NBC correspondent Lee Cowan who, as NewsBusters documented, admitted to finding it difficult to be objective when reporting on Obama. Cowan latter confessed to excitement upon learning his assignment in covering the Obama campaign. Chris Matthews of MSNBC also expressed his excitement as he claimed to feel a "thrill" run up his leg.
The January 14 NewsBusters item, "Obama So Enthralled Reporters They 'Needed to Go Through Detox,'" recounted an earlier admission from Harris:
Discussing NBC News reporter Lee Cowan’s admission that “it's almost hard to remain objective” in covering Barack Obama, on Sunday’s Reliable Sources on CNN...ex-Washington Post political editor John Harris revealed Post reporters “needed to go through detox” after coming back to the newsroom enthralled with the liberal Democratic presidential candidate. Recalling his days at the Post before helping to launch The Politico a year ago, Harris told ex-Post colleague and Reliable Sources host Howard Kurtz:
Almost a couple years ago, you would send a reporter out with Obama, and it was like they needed to go through detox when they came back: “Oh, he's so impressive, he's so charismatic,” and we're kind of like, “Down Boy.”