- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 19, 2013

Presidential historians often say that unfriendly news coverage typically comes with the territory for a second-term president. Indeed, President Obama has been negotiating an unfamiliar, unfriendly media landscape in recent days, one that has sprouted negative reviews of his leadership, and not necessarily from his conservative critics.

“The decline and fall of Barack Obama: A presidency that began with such high expectations is confirming America’s decline as a world power,” declares a recent Times of London op-ed, while a headline at The Atlantic notes, “Obama says he’s not worried about style — but he should be.”

“What’s wrong with Obama?” asks Politico in a lengthy examination of the president’s mind, energy, staffing challenges, philosophy and salesmanship, or lack thereof.

The phenomenon of Mr. Obama’s lousy press, meanwhile, continues to be examined and analyzed by those amazed that the man of hope and change is getting some pushback. Why, it’s gone on for, maybe, a whole month.

There is some reality to consider. Mr. Obama has had an extraordinarily long honeymoon with most journalists. Lest we forget, the news media were waiting to ambush Mr. Obama’s predecessor from Day One. The press did not wait until his second term to attack President George W. Bush.

“The networks have had a field day since Inauguration Day attacking America’s freshman president from the left. They’ve spun his policy proposals beyond the point of recognition, then cherry-picked liberal experts to excoriate them,” reported Rich Noyes, an analyst for the Media Research Center who pored over the poor coverage, even granting ABC News an “F” grade for its contributions. The date of his report: April 26, 2001.

FOR THE LEXICON

“Blinkmanship.”

— A handy new term from Powerline.com analyst Paul Mirengoff. He explains: “Congressional Republicans are moving toward a showdown with President Obama over defunding Obamacare. The House is poised to pass a continuing resolution that funds government operations beyond September, but does not include Obamacare. The Senate will pass a continuing resolution that funds Obamacare. After that, it’s a question of who blinks first, and whether the blink will occur before or after a government shutdown.”

INSTA-PUTIN

Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to inspire both press and politicians to get creative. Consider that on Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney conjured up the term “Putin envy” after House Speaker John A. Boehner released a parody video declaring that President Obama was more willing to negotiate with Mr. Putin than with the U.S. Congress.

By close of business Thursday, the phrase appeared in 1,029 press accounts, according to an informal Google News search.

STILL DON’T TRUST THE PRESS

It is no new phenomenon: The public distrusts the press. Gallup numbers find that 55 percent of Americans have little or no confidence in the accuracy of the news media; that’s lousy, but not as lousy as 2012, when the figure was 60 percent.

There’s a partisan divide, of course: 60 percent of Democrats say they actually trust the press, compared with a third of Republicans.

“Americans have consistently been more distrusting than trusting of the media each year since 2007, in contrast with 1997 through 2003, when the slight majority expressed trust in the media,” Gallup analyst Elizabeth Mendes says.

And what about that pesky media bias? Oh, it’s there, all right.

Gallup found that 46 percent of the public say the press is too liberal, an opinion shared by 74 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats. About 37 percent overall say the balance is “just about right”; 18 percent of GOPers and 57 percent of Democrats agree. Finally, 13 percent overall say the news media are too conservative, a thought shared by 5 percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Democrats.

MINI CPAC HAS MAXI LINEUP

The big CPAC is six months away. The little CPAC, however, boasts considerable charms. We’re talking about the Conservative Political Action Conference, of course. The one-day interim gathering is Sept. 28 in St. Louis; some heavyweights will be there, according to a final schedule released Thursday.

Among the speakers: Republican Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Mike Lee of Utah, plus Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, and Blaine Luetkemeyer, Jason T. Smith and Ann Wagner of Missouri.

Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rick Perry of Texas will attend, along with Rick Santorum and Oliver North. Also on the agenda: American Conservative Union director Al Cardenas, Libertarian Party Chairman Geoffrey Neale, Americans for Tax Reform Founder Grover Norquist and The Washington Times Editor John Solomon, plus The Times’ editorial page editor David Keene, the past president of the NRA.

What will they talk about? Featured panels include: “The Real War Between the States: How Americans Are Changing ZIP Codes for Good Tax Codes,” “Can Social Conservatives and Libertarians Ever Get Along?” “Impotence Abroad, Omnipotence At Home: Obama Scandals on Parade” and “Is There a Conservative Position on Immigration Reform?”

SENATOR NEWT A NO-GO

Newt Gingrich is perfectly happy being one of the new co-hosts on CNN’s reinvented prime-time talk show “Crossfire.” Running for the U.S. Senate seat in Virginia is not on his busy agenda, though a former presidential campaign aide launched a political action committee hoping to draft Mr. Gingrich — a longtime resident of the Old Dominion — for the role.

The Draft Newt PAC was launched with much authority this week to challenge Sen. Mark R. Warner; the Democrat is up for re-election in 2014. The project is the high-concept brainchild of Andrew Hemingway, who served as a state campaign director and digital fundraiser for Mr. Gingrich during his bid for the White House two years ago.

“U.S. Sen. Newt Gingrich would be an immediate game-changer, giving conservatives another voice that would take the fight to the Obama administration,” Mr. Hemingway reasons.

“With his history of support for far-reaching government reforms and fiscal sanity — for actually balancing the budget — Newt Gingrich was tea party before there was a tea party,” adds treasurer Dan Backer.

And from the Gingrich camp: no thanks

“Newt is a new host of CNN’s Crossfire. He is not running for U.S. Senate and will not run for Senate at any time in the future. For this reason, the Speaker encourages supporters to ignore solicitations from this new group,” says a statement issued by Gingrich Productions, a multimedia group Mr. Gingrich runs with his wife, Callista.

POLL DU JOUR

91 percent of Americans own a cellphone.

81 percent of the owners send or receive text messages.

52 percent send or receive emails on their phone.

50 percent downloads apps.

49 percent get directions, recommendations or location-based information.

48 percent listen to music.

21 percent make video calls.

8 percent share their exact location.

Source: A Pew Internet survey of 2,252 U.S. adults conducted April 17-May 19 and released Thursday.

Tip line always open at jharper@washingtontimes.com.