Even as the public grew increasingly disenchanted with Washington's full-throated liberal policies in 2010, the media elite's partisanship remained on full display. The Media Research Center's Best Notable Quotables of 2010 captured the highlights, as journalists continued to blame America's misfortunes on George W. Bush, even as they also insisted that Barack Obama deserved more credit for his amazing accomplishments.
In the MRC's "They Don't Miss Him Yet Award for Still Bashing Bush," Time's Joe Klein took the prize for insisting that the April 2010 Gulf oil spill was really Bush's fault: "This is more Bush’s second Katrina than Obama’s first,” Klein lamely insisted on The Chris Matthews Show. Klein made his crack on May 30, nearly 500 days after Bush left the Oval Office.
Runner-up was Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, who declared on MSNBC's Daily Rundown: "The oil spill is the perfect metaphor for Obama’s presidency so far. It’s been cleaning up a lot of the messes left to him by his predecessors, whether it was bank bailouts, auto bailouts, Afghanistan — which turned out to be a much bigger mess than anybody anticipated — preventing a depression that, you know, began to happen on George Bush’s watch. So this is more of the same.”
Later in the summer, Alter's Newsweek decided that the United States had fallen to 11th place among the nations of the world, thanks to -- you guessed it -- George W. Bush. Michael Hirsh wrote the cover piece:
“America hasn’t recovered from the serious blows to its stature delivered by nearly a decade of policy debacles....[Barack Obama] inherited a Herculean task: the Augean-stable-size mess left behind by George W. Bush. First there was the diversion of military resources and attention from Afghanistan to Iraq — a draining, misdirected war and occupation that many believe never should have been launched. Then there was the long period of fiscal, regulatory, and financial recklessness that contributed to the worst-ever downturn since the Great Depression. Finally, Washington squandered its chance to lead on climate change.”
But while America is a dreadful place because of Bush's horribleness, America is also a dazzling place thanks to Obama's wonderfulness. The MRC's "Rodney Dangerfield Award for Demanding Respect for Obama's Achievements" documented the media's sycophancy to the new Dear Leader.
CBS's Lesley Stahl took top honors with her pre-election declaration that citizens should really be thanking "Dr. Obama" for saving them, rather than grumbling about a few scars suffered in the process. Stahl was on MSNBC's Morning Joe (the network sometimes seems a magnet for liberal journalists wishing to cut loose) back on October 18:
“It reminded me of a doctor who has this horrible burn victim come into the hospital, and he saves the guy’s life — this is our economy — saves the guy’s life, but the guy wakes up and he’s got scars all over his face, and that’s all he sees, that’s all anybody sees. The guy’s living, but he looks awful. And how — what’s the doctor supposed to say? And that’s what he’s [Obama is] fighting, he’s fighting an economy that just won’t give him anything… He cannot get any traction on what he’s accomplished.”
Runners-up in this crowded category included ABC daytime host Joy Behar fawning before Obama himself: "You’ve really done a lot, I think. I mean, you’ve signed 200-plus laws into — since you’re in office. You have — financial reform has taken place. You got a health care — I mean, you put two women on the Supreme Court. I could go on and on about your accomplishments." And, ABC's Christiane Amanpour fretting to top White House advisor David Axelrod: "People don’t appreciate some of the amazing legislative agenda that he’s accomplished.”
NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd threw this toughie the President's way back in July: “You’ve had an enormous amount of legislative victories — it’s comparable to any President in history. It has not translated into political capital with the public. Honestly, are you frustrated by that?”
And in May, USA Today pulled together a cover story on how "doing big things" could "wind up costing Obama," complete with a photo of Obama standing before a portrait of Abraham Lincoln:
“Big problems. Big achievements. Big costs. Historians say President Obama’s legislative record during a crisis-ridden presidency already puts him in a league with such consequential presidents as Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt. But polls show voters aren’t totally on board with his achievements, at least not yet, and the White House acknowledges that his victories have carried huge financial and political costs. ‘There are always costs in doing big things,’ Obama told USA Today.”
Stay tuned for more partisan double-standards in 2011.