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This Again? Some Still Claiming Media's Obama 'Swoon'

Matt Negrin

Posted: Mar 23rd 2009 1:44AM

Filed under: US Elections, Politics, Boston University, Media

Kevin Ferris's op-ed today titled "Media's swoon over Obama" even reached the commentary pages of Japan's largest newspaper, The Daily Yomiuri, where I first read it. I wonder how many other people took it seriously.

Ferris, an editorial page editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, uses a new documentary about campaign coverage to rehash the old argument that during the 2008 race, "the media let us down in nearly every respect."

Fine. Let's hear what you've got to say.

Pointing to a spot in the anti-Obama, anti-media documentary by John Ziegler, Ferris rages over how it is the fault of "the media" that lots of facts about Sarah Palin stuck with voters, while many facts about Barack Obama did not. He notes how voters remembered Palin's expensive wardrobe, Bristol's pregnancy and Tina Fey's impersonation. But "what didn't sink in" about Obama was, according to Ferris/Ziegler, his "background in Chicago politics, his association with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers."

Never mind that referring to Obama's "background in Chicago politics" is too vague to mean much. Do these men really think that the American public didn't hear enough about Bill Ayers? I can still hear Palin's sound bites in my head from every stump speech she gave referring to Obama "palling around with terrorists."

The anti-media, anti-Obama crowd is apparently still seething over its claim that the mainstream media didn't cover Obama's relationship with Ayers. Is that so? What about this front-page New York Times article titled, "Obama and '60s Bomber: A Look Into Crossed Paths," that ran above the fold a month before the election? Don't forget the Times's story the very next day, called, "Palin, on Offensive, Attacks Obama's Ties to '60s Radical."

Maybe these critics should read the Times instead of vaguely bashing it. In the documentary, filmmaker Ziegler also says about Obama, "There was a subconscious decision to treat him differently, lowering the bar for him, because he's black."

Then he lashes out at "the media" for allegedly playing down the Jeremiah Wright fiasco when clips of the pastor surfaced in which he said, "God damn America."

"Rev. Wright is the best example," Ziegler says. "If a white candidate had that kind of a connection to a raving lunatic KKK member -- I mean, please, it's so obvious, it's ridiculous."

So obvious indeed -- almost as obvious as a simple Google search that proves you entirely wrong. Here's a partial list of stories in mainstream publications exploring the link between Obama and Wright:

Los Angeles Times: Poll shows Rev. Jeremiah Wright hurting Barack Obama (March 17, 2008)
New York Times: The Obama-Wright Factor (March 20, 2008)
Washington Post: For Obama, Wright the Latest in a Long Line of Tests (April 28, 2008)

All of this fair and thorough reporting is, according to Ziegler and Ferris, the "death of journalism." You can view parts of the documentary online here. As if to solidify his point that "the media" floated Obama into the White House, he highlights on his website the face of what he sees as truth and fairness: an interview with Sarah Palin, who talks about how important it is to have "fairness in the media."

(Some reminders of how much Palin believes in the truth: She claimed credit for denying the Bridge to Nowhere when she in fact asked for it; she baselessly claimed Obama would "experiment with socialism;" and she claimed a state ethics report cleared her of fault when it in fact found her guilty.)

What's truly newsworthy, though, is a Rasmussen poll that Ferris cites, showing that 51 percent of voters on Election Day "thought reporters tried to help Obama win." How did these reporters do this while they were busy reporting the Wright scandal and the Ayers association, and following up on every other piece of dirt the McCain campaign could bring up? If giving an easy pass to Obama was the media's job, then, to quote Ferris and Ziegler, they really "let us down."

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