- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (AP) - Constant news coverage of President Barack Obama since he took office less than three months ago is warranted considering the economic crisis facing the country, panelists at a media symposium said Wednesday.

“Obama’s doing it all at once so our judgments are coming at a fast and furious rate,” New York Times columnist David Brooks said before a panel discussion called “Obama and the Press: Is the media doing its job?” at Texas Christian University.

TCU graduate Bob Schieffer, CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent and “Face the Nation” moderator, said he ran out of time for his questions during an interview with Obama recently.

Schieffer, who moderated the fifth annual Schieffer Symposium, said it reminded him “how serious the problems are that we face today, and how many different problems that this president is having to deal with.”

Mark Shields, a nationally syndicated columnist and commentator on PBS’ “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” said he didn’t feel coverage of Obama was biased.

“People are fascinated by the press because it has become a recurring theme by the opposition that he’s had too favorable of a press,” Shields said before the symposium. “I personally believe the press has a serious bias when it comes to politics in favor of winners. … If you win, you’re a genius.”

Shields reminded the crowd that Obama was an underdog when his presidential campaign started.

“I don’t think he’s getting a free ride,” he said.

Brooks said he believes the press has a subconscious liberal bias, but that “for all the adulation, I think that there’s been a level of scrutiny” on the stimulus package and problems with some of his initial Cabinet choices.

“Most reporters are motivated by a desire to get on page one” and not any political leanings, he said.

Gwen Ifill, moderator and managing editor of PBS’ “Washington Week,” said the media has been “completely overwhelmed” in covering Obama during his short time in office. She said it wasn’t a “bias as much as intensity” from voters anxious to hear about changes.

“You name it _ there’s just this obsession. And so we just try to keep up by covering it,” Ifill said.

Ifill came under fire last fall when she moderated the sole vice presidential debate because she was writing a book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” She said at the time that she had not written her chapter on Obama, and the book was not released until his inauguration in January.

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