According to Politico editors Jim VandeHei and John Harris, Barack Obama is currently "playing the press like a fiddle" by "exploiting some of the most long-standing traits among reporters who cover politics and government — their favoritism for politicians perceived as ideologically centrist."
VandeHei and Harris pointed out journalists such as Christiane Amanpour for lauding the President as "Reaganesque." They then oddly portrayed Obama's good press as a new thing.
The co-authors of February 7 piece flatly denied a hard-left tilt in the media: "Conservatives are convinced the vast majority of reporters at mainstream news organizations are liberals who hover expectantly for each new issue of The Nation. It's just not true."
The editors added:
The majority of political writers we know might more accurately be accused of centrist bias.
That is, they believe broadly in government activism but are instinctually skeptical of anything that smacks of ideological zealotry and are quick to see the public interest as being distorted by excessive partisanship. Governance, in the Washington media’s ideal, should be a tidier and more rational process than it is.
Yet, at the same time, Harris and VandeHei freely identified the fawning press Obama has received in 2011:
In the category of You Can’t Make It Up, weeks of stories and columns about the comparison culminated with this cover of Time magazine — "Why Obama Loves Reagan" — and a manufactured picture of the two men side by side, smiling optimistically.
Obama couldn’t buy an ad like that.
Absent from their argument is the fact that journalists have been covering for Obama since the first days of his administration (and earlier). A May 2009 study by the MRC on the President's first 100 days found:
Obama’s first 100 days were defined by massive spending, aggressive intervention in the private sector and proposals for a huge expansion of the federal government. Yet none of the networks aired a single story on whether Obama’s policies were pushing the U.S. toward socialism, and no reporter used the term "socialist" to describe Obama.
Not only that, network reporters never used the word "liberal" to describe either Barack Obama or his agenda during the first 100 days.
The networks lavished good press on every major initiative of the early Obama administration, including the massive stimulus package, all of the various bailouts, health care, stem cells, the environment and foreign policy.
In the days before the President unveiled his unprecedented $3.5 trillion budget — with a record-shattering $1.75 trillion deficit — four out of five statements on the evening newscasts parroted the White House spin that Obama was a deficit fighter.
Perhaps the Politico editors will explain Obama's good press, going back before 2011.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.