Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media,” Bernard Goldberg counts the embarrassing and treacherous ways in which the mainstream media (MSM) flaunted their infatuation with Obama throughout the presidential campaign - how it endlessly paid court to and suppressed entire swaths of negative information about, their Romeo.

But mere slobbering turned to rapture during inaugural week, with some major players in the MSM casting all pretense of journalistic objectivity to the winds and raising political hackdom and near-religious idolatry of Obama to new heights. Two examples stand out:

The nation’s newspaper of record, The New York Times, threw an inauguration bash in Manhattan. As attendee Gabriel Sherman reported in New York magazine, the paraphernalia handed out to guests (in addition to vodka and straw hats) included red-white-and-blue Obama pins and twelve-inch by twelve-inch posters, both of which melded Obama’s image in profile with - get this - the Times logo.

“The marriage of the Times’ flag and Obama’s silhouette was jarring,” Sherman noted. “One guest remarked that the poster looked like something put out by [Stalin’s propaganda mouthpiece] Pravda.” To put it too gently, as Sherman did, “For a paper with the Times’ long-held journalistic values, hosting a party for a political candidate is far from seemly.”

In response, Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis lamely stated that the event was orchestrated by the paper’s marketing department “to celebrate the new era in politics.” But, Sherman noted, the Times “stands to gain, at least financially, from an Obama presidency.” The Times has thus resorted to hawking a photo of Obama ($1,129), an “Inauguration & Election Newspaper Set” ($29.95), and sets of Obama “Victory Mugs” ($24.95). (The Times, according to longtime Times watcher Thomas Lifson, is in potentially dire financial straits.)

Then there is the Los Angeles Times, which dispatched to newsstands what Warner Todd Huston observed to be a “borderline blasphemous” cover for its papers in the days leading up to the Inauguration. About the sheer “audacity” of this image, Huston writes:

”The photograph is reminiscent of one of the most famous and iconic depictions of God in Western art, the Sistine Chapel painting of God reaching out to Adam. But, instead of God, we have The Obammessiah reaching across the page as if straining to touch each of us with his healing hand. It’s quite disgusting, really, the way the Old Media has propagandized for Obama by replicating religious imagery or communist propaganda.”

Maybe, as Sherman speculated, The New York Times’ inaugural Obama-fest was not an eternal pledge of troth but merely “a minor hypocrisy propagated by an overeager marketing department.” Perhaps the Los Angeles Times’ worshipful depiction of Obama can be written off as naive, albeit truly base, hyperbole. And it could be that there will come a point when even the leftist MSM may decide to show some independence through fear, in Victor Davis Hanson’s words, of “looking ridiculous” in their swooning over Obama’s “messiah act.”

But the reflexive character of the swooning, and the zeal and consistency with which the MSM acted as an arm of the Obama campaign - as Goldberg makes abundantly clear in “A Slobbering Affair” - suggest otherwise, namely, that the MSM’s bias and intellectual dishonesty have been institutionalized. Likely they can be trusted in the years ahead only to spew forth more Leader-, Party-, and State-worshipping propaganda, in the hopes that Obama can radicalize the nation before the public grasps the true meaning and consequences of his agenda.

In “The Slobbering Sycophants of the MSM,” a lively account of the Goldberg book at Big Hollywood, Burt Prelutsky compares the MSM to the character played by Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront.” “By taking a dive,” he writes, “they’ve forfeited their chance to be contenders … for our respect. Instead, like Terry Malloy, they’re just bums.” The nation needs to throw the bums out - and find other sources of factual and fair reporting.

Dr. Candace de Russy, a nationally recognized writer and lecturer on education and cultural issues, is a regular contributor to National Review Online.

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