Bozell & Graham Column: Obama Never Blamed for Bad Security

June 21st, 2016 10:53 PM

In the wake of the Trump wrecking crane, President Obama’s approval ratings have risen above 50 percent. The media see greater appreciation for his “competence” in office – but why? In the wake of the Orlando attack, it’s easy to ask “How competent would the media make President Bush appear if an Islamic terrorist shot up a gay nightclub in Florida eight years ago?”

It seemed like every piece of bad news in the Bush years was somehow Bush’s fault, and proof of his incompetence. The media’s attitude was summed up in Bill Maher’s diatribe to Jay Leno: “The man is a rube. He is a dolt. He is a yokel on the world stage. He is a Gilligan who cannot find his ass with two hands.”                            

But absolutely no one in the media wonders for two seconds if Obama looks incompetent when a terrorist calls the cops to declare himself an ally of ISIS and shoots more than 100 people, killing 49. Instead, the post-shooting “news” focused on how Republican love of “assault weapons” and hatred of homosexuals are the obvious targets for blame.  

What of Islamic terrorism? What of Obama’s incompetence – his very real refusal even to call the threat by its name? It doesn’t matter if it’s San Bernardino, the Boston Marathon, the Marines in Chattanooga, Benghazi, Fort Hood – no terrorist attacks ever cast the slightest shadow on this president.

The same goes for hacking. When the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee to gain opposition research on Donald Trump, who was blamed? See the Washington Examiner: “The White House reacted complaining that Republicans have blocked additional money for funds to enhance the nation's cybersecurity.”

Last summer, we learned the Chinese government hacked into the Obama-run Office of Personnel Management and data was stolen from background investigations covering 21.5 million people, including current, former and future federal workers. But a Media Research Center study found the broadcast news networks protected the president by refusing to criticize the administration in 90.2 percent of cybersecurity stories (139 of 154). The sample included reports of serious data breaches at OPM and the IRS, the theft of emails from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and top administration officials, and possible hacks of major airlines and Wall Street.

Newspaper editorial pages have sometimes harshly criticized Obama on those issues. Last July, The Washington Post editorial board accused him of demonstrating “inexcusable negligence” on cybersecurity and being “way too passive about China.”

Why is this not news? Network anchors like Scott Pelley on CBS suggested it was a problem for the whole country, not Team Obama. In an interview last August, he asked Secretary of State John Kerry, “With all of the attacks that have come, apparently, from China on the U.S. government, there is a sense that the United States is unable to defend itself in the cyber world. How much concern should we have?” Kerry said the government was “fighting back” daily against attacks, but the cyberworld was “pretty much the Wild West, so to speak.”

Then throw into this mix the scandal that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used a very hackable private server for four years with no outbreak of competence from Obama officials. The media attitude is captured by Bernie Sanders, not wanting to talk any more about those damn e-mails. Meanwhile, no one wonders how Obama could be so cavalier about the cyber-threat she’d created.

To the press, Obama’s competence is automatically assumed. It’s a given, like knowing the sun will rise in the East. Part of it is their personal attachment to Obama, and part of it is the hidebound liberal assumption that the party that grows government the most governs best.