Howard Kurtz: Why Isn't Obama Getting More Credit for Gaddafi's Death?

I'm not sure what press reports media analyst Howard Kurtz observed since Thursday's announcement that Moammar Gaddafi had been killed in Libya, but they certainly can't be what most people in this country have seen.

On CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday, Kurtz actually asked his guests why the press aren't giving President Obama more credit (video follows with transcript and commentary):

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Remember when President Obama was getting pounded in the press for dragging his feet on Libya? Eight months later, we got this news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Three sources, all rebel sources, are saying that Gadhafi has, in fact, been killed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: Did most journalists give credit to the president when it paid off? I must have missed that.

"Remember when President Obama was getting pounded in the press for dragging his feet on Libya?" No, I don't.

Quite the contrary, back in March, Kurtz himself scolded the media for drumbeating war again and not asking skeptical questions about this mission:

KURTZ ON MARCH 20, 2011: One major question about the assault on Libya, what happened to the media's skepticism?

U.S. warplanes hitting targets in Libya for a second day today. And I have to say this at the outset -- the media get excited by war, the journalistic adrenaline starts pumping as we talk about warships and warplanes and cruise missiles, and we put up the maps and we have the retired generals on. And sometimes something is lost in that initial excitement.

It reminds me of eight years ago this very weekend, when Shock and Awe was rained down upon Baghdad and the media utterly failed to ask skeptical questions. So, I looked at my "New York Times" this morning, went through all the sections, I looked at my "Washington Post" this morning and looked through all the sections. Didn't see any skeptical articles, columns, editorials about this no-fly position. Two fine newspapers, don't see the skeptical questions.

What if there's a long-term stalemate here? What is this goes on and on? What if there are American casualties? Do you stop this operation with Gadhafi still in power?

 


So seven months ago, Kurtz was scolding the media for not asking tough questions concerning this mission. Now he claims Obama was getting pounded for it.

"Did most journalists give credit to the president when it paid off? I must have missed that."

I guess he did, for the initial reaction Thursday was so jubilant, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said the media "are having orgasms."

NewsBusters reported some of them:

I guess Kurtz missed those:
 
KURTZ: When President Obama announced NATO bombing missions last March in an effort to protect Libyan civilians against the Gadhafi regime, reaction ranged from skeptical to strikingly negative. Some commentators said it was too little too late. Others asking why the U.S. was involved at all in a third Middle East war.
 
"When President Obama announced NATO bombing missions last March in an effort to protect Libyan civilians against the Gadhafi regime, reaction ranged from skeptical to strikingly negative."
 
Once again, that's not what Kurtz said at the time. But I digress:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: He doesn't believe America's role ought to be the leadership role. We really have no intention of enforcing a threat that Gadhafi is going to be removed.

KEITH OLBERMANN, CURRENT TV: So, this is about making sure Gadhafi goes, except it's not about making sure he goes. We're not clear why we are fighting, who exactly we are fighting with, who the rebels are that we're fighting for, what a no-fly zone accomplishes.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

Interesting. So back in March, Kurtz felt media were drumbeating war and weren't asking skeptical questions about the mission. Now, to prove the opposite, he showed clips of one of the Left's most strident antiwar commentators and a Fox News host.

Exactly how was that indicative of mainstream media reports at the time? But I once again digress:

KURTZ: So, now that the Libyan rebels have won and Moammar Gadhafi has been killed, is the press finally giving the president some credit for pulling this off?

This is Friday's "New York Times." Here is a story. For Obama, some vindication of his much criticized approach to war is right down on the bottom of the page.

Joining us now here in Washington, Amy Holmes, anchor for the Blaze on Glenn Beck TV; Dana Milbank, columnist for "The Washington Post"; and Terence Smith, former media correspondent for the "PBS NewsHour."

And, Terry, the media wallowed for months I would say in criticism of the administration's Libya policy. Why don't they stop now and give some credit to the president when a brutal regime is toppled and the policy has been successful?

Without knowing it, Kurtz was guilty of the same lack of skepticism he accused media of back in March, for exactly how does Gaddafi's death signal success in Libya? Did Saddam Hussein's death in Iraq signal success to that mission?

What Kurtz did mostly right in March was point out that typically antiwar media were behaving like cheerleaders over the President's decision to attack Libya without any provocation or input from Congress.

The fact that the rebels have won and Gaddafi is dead doesn't change any of that, especially as no one knows what Libya is going to become now that this brutal regime has been overthrown.

If cheerleading was wrong when this began, it should be similarly so now as the same questions still remain.

It's disappointing Kurtz doesn't see it that way and is instead wondering why the media aren't taking an even more disgraceful victory lap.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.