But media scholars, including a former top aide to McCain, disagree. They said campaign coverage often did lean in Obama's favor, though not -- as many conservatives have suggested -- because of a hidden liberal agenda on the part of the media. Instead, academic experts said, Obama benefited largely from the dynamics of the campaign itself and the media's tendency to focus on the “horse race,” emphasizing ups and downs in the polls and political tactics. As Obama's poll numbers rose in response to events, so did favorable press coverage for him, not the other way round.
The media's post-election truth leaks are in full swing now as the Washington Post will publish an admission from its ombudsman Sunday that it was clearly biased towards Barack Obama in its coverage of the just-concluded presidential campaign.
Isn't the truth great when it doesn't hurt your agenda?
Although Deborah Howell's piece "An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage" will appear in Sunday's print edition, it was published at the Post's website Saturday, and revealed quite frankly what most media observers have known for months (emphasis added, photo courtesy Newsday):
At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell reported on location from Athens, Greece as part of the show’s ‘Destination Unknown’ series and managed to squeeze in this observation: "...coming here, also, meeting people on the street, Europeans, they're absolutely giddy about the election of Barack Obama. They're actually coming up to us and congratulating us, which is interesting. So Europe is reacting in that way."Later in the 8:30AM half hour, Mitchell returned to that observation: "As I said earlier in the broadcast, you get the sense being over here in Europe that the attitudes of some Europeans towards Americans may be changing with this week's election of President-Elect Barack Obama." Mitchell then turned to correspondent Richard Roth, who reported: "America's got a new President-Elect and a lot of the buzz on this side of the ocean is that's cool."Roth, reporting from London, visited a local pub to get British reaction to Obama’s election: "Here in the country that was briefly called 'Cool Britannia' not so long ago, we're hearing some new compliments for the former colony." One patron remarked: "It makes America a better place." Roth asked one woman: "You like our movies?...You like our music?...So now you like our politics?" She replied: "I think they're a lot healthier now. Everybody's talking about it. So America is the thing of the moment at the moment and definitely -- definitely cool."
With another guest in the same 3:30 PM EST segment, Sanchez cited energy requirements and wondered: “Isn't this the kind of need that could be met by American workers if the government created a WPA or CCC plan?”
"Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer on Friday uncritically highlighted an address given by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright on Thursday and parroted his talking points about being a scapegoat. In a tease for the segment, she recited, "Reverend Jeremiah Wright is now speaking out again.
The election of Barack Obama was certainly historic, and the great attraction of that historic moment led to more history: an Obama-smitten news media that completely avoided their responsibility to test the nominee with hard questions. It made the gooey 1992 Clinton campaign look like a fistfight by comparison.
Obama faced none of the withering scrutiny applied to even the Republican vice presidential candidate. Instead, he was treated to a nearly constant string of encomiums and tributes to his transformational candidacy, while nearly every possible pitfall of political embarrassment or inconvenience has been omitted or dismissed.
Continuing the narrative of Barack Obama as John F. Kennedy, on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith described how: "As the nation prepares for President-Elect Barack Obama to move into the White House, many Americans can't help but draw similarities between him and the late President John F. Kennedy." Co-host Julie Chen earlier teased the segment: "The new first family has been compared to JFK and Jackie and their young children. Can the Obamas bring that 'one brief shining moment,' that was known as Camelot, back to the White House?"
Smith narrated the segment, which juxtaposed images JFK with Obama: "It was a presidency filled with idealism, glamour, and excitement...A young Senator had been elected to lead his country. Now 47 years later, America has chosen another young Senator." Smith went on:
And the similarities are striking. JFK was 43 when he was inaugurated. Obama is just three years older, bringing a certain youthful vigor to the White House, including, young children. Both Obama and Kennedy were criticized for lacking experience and both knew the power of well-chosen words...Kennedy had more than his share of charisma and Obama knows how to light up a room. But it's their wives who might be the real superstars. Both men overcame significant obstacles to become elected. Anti-Catholic sentiment was still widespread in the country but JFK was elected the first Roman Catholic President of the United States.
Sounding like a voice-over on a movie trailer for an upcoming action blockbuster starring Barack Obama, Chris Matthews greeted viewers, on Thursday's "Hardball," with this exclamation: "The excitement begins! Barack Obama makes his first major appointments." Matthews then continued his giddiness, a little later in the show, when he raised up an electoral map, published in the New York Times, that featured a "sea of blue" for Obama and hailed: "This is maybe the best map ever seen!"
The following exchanges occurred on the November 6, "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS OPENING SHOW: The excitement begins! Barack Obama makes his first major appointments. Let's play "Hardball!" Good evening, I'm Chris Matthews, welcome to "Hardball." Leading off tonight, reconstruction. President-Elect Obama -- first time I ever said that -- is moving fast to build his team to rebuild a national consensus for action.
MATTHEWS HOLDING UP MAP: Let me show you a map that's one of the, I know we've shown a lot of maps. And Chuck [Todd] and his colleagues have shown a lot of great maps.
HOWARD FINEMAN, NEWSWEEK: That's a good one.
ABC is the most objective network. Just ask Barbara Walters. The November 6 edition of "The View" kicked off with a discussion on ABC correspondent Steve Osunsami’s emotional reaction to Obama’s victory. Barbara Walters defended Osunsami and called ABC the most "objective network." Barbara then assured the panel and her audience that it’s not because she is "a part of ABC News." This "objective" ABC network is the same outlet where Terry Moran implied Sarah Palin's rhetoric was endangering Barack Obama's life and David Wright accused McCain of engaging in "fear and loathing."
Later in the segment Barbara Walters offered praise, and the panel agreed (in Joy Behar’s absence), to President Bush’s graciousness in willing to offer a smooth transition for the new president-elect.
Later in the program, the ladies discussed rumors, allegedly leaked by McCain staffers, about Sarah Palin’s unruly behavior and lack of knowledge. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the only co-host who met Governor Palin, assured that the Alaska governor is not a "diva." Barbara Walters was puzzled as to what was wrong that Palin allegedly hinted at 2012 presidential run. Sherri Shepherd chastised the McCain staffers for airing Palin’s dirty laundry after they vetted her. Whoopi Goldberg and Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed: Leaking incriminating information without identifying one’s self is cowardly.
At the end of Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, an emotional Harry Smith declared: "I don't know how else to say this -- I grew up in a household that was not racially neutral. I grew up in a household where racial epithets were used commonly and with vigor. To see the difference in this country, in a country that I grew up in, so many people have said this is not something they thought they would ever see in their lifetime, and I wept tears of joy last night." Co-host Julie Chen observed: "You have tears in your eyes right now, Harry." [audio available here]
Prior to that admission, Smith interviewed poet Maya Angelou and asked: "Who were you thinking about last night as you watched the coverage?" Angelou replied: "All of us. All of those who went before, who paid dearly. And all of us today, all of us. I'm so proud, I'm filled -- I can hardly talk without weeping -- I'm so filled with pride for my country. What do you say? We are growing up." Angelou later added: "And he is inclusive, as opposed to exclusive. I know that he knows he is the president of every black person, every white person, he's the president of the bigots and he must remember that." Smith added: "He said in his acceptance speech, ‘for those of you who voted against me, I hear you too.’" Angelou replied: "Yes, exactly. That's what I mean...We will be together. This is what he dreams, he envisions it."
Well, it's going to be all of those. But I think, if you had to pick one, it would be excellence. Barack Obama is a guy who appreciates excellence and focus. He's a guy who appreciates results.Fineman, the magazine's senior Washington correspondent and columnist, as well as senior editor and deputy Washington Bureau Chief, soon hailed Obama's expected team: “It will be naturally diverse and naturally bipartisan.”
Well, today’s New York Times has a large map of the U.S. showing county-by-county election results as a sea of Democratic blue, with red areas limited to a few southern states, Arizona and Alaska. It looks like a Democratic landslide.