Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shameless Media

Bob Schieffer of CBS News described President Obama's recent opening remarks at the gun control press conference as, "one of the best speeches I've ever heard him deliver". Schieffer went on to praise the president's cause as similar to the ten-year hunt for Osama bin Laden and Lyndon Johnson's successful attempt to pass civil rights legislation. Although Schieffer indicated that more than an Obama speech would be required, this wasn't objective journalism but slobbering praise for a man with a checkered record of accomplishment.

Mr. Schieffer's kudos was a reminder of the stunning assessment that David Brooks bestowed upon the President immediately following his re-election. Mr. Brooks, the self-described "conservative" New York Times journalist stated that Obama was a man of "high integrity" and had run a "very clean administration" during his first term. He concluded that Obama would avoid the scandals that plaguedmany Presidents during their second terms. Brooks said very directly, "there have been signs of insularity and arrogance, but there have been no scandals". Huh? Fast and Furious and Benghazi apparently do not reach Mr. Brook's threshold for scandal.

Then there is coverage of President Obama's economy. If the monthly unemployment rate drops Obama receives credit even if hundreds of thousands exited the job market in despair. In November of 2012, 540,000 dropped out as the unemployment rate declined from 7.9% to 7.7%. Workforce dropouts accounted for more than the .2% rate drop but that fact went largely without mention in the media. Conversely, if the rate increases, the media will mphasize the jobs created even if the amount is insufficient to keep up with population growth.

Obama's first term has been marred by political tactics bordering on thuggery. He claimed he wanted not red states or blue states, but the United States. He claimed he would be a unifier, that he would be open and transparent and that if elected he would bring civility to the oval office. Simply put, he lied. With an assist from the media, he and the left have discarded any pretense of civility. Obama's promises of bringing to the table a range of views and seeking the best solutions was also quickly replaced with labeling those that disagreed with his actions or initiatives as morally deficient, racist, or lacking some other important character trait. Where was the media?

This approach has been frequently used by the liberal left in the past. But the use of racism, class warfare, and sexism has been taken to new heights by this president and the power of his office. He browbeats the opposition and blatantly uses allies in the mainstream media (MSM), academia, and Hollywood to reemphasize and trumpet his rightness. The alliance has been so effective that conversation and the art of the possible, politics, has devolved into demagoguery. What has the media reported?

The media, in particular, has repeatedly given Obama a pass on his actions, programs, and tactics. While George W. Bush was ridiculed and pilloried for his positions on the Patriot Act, the use of wiretaps, rendition, Guantanamo, and many other aspects of "his" war on terror. Obama has maintained and extended these policies virtually without comment from the media. And scandals which generally bring intense scrutiny from the media when linked to a president have been soft-pedaled no matter how serious. Why didn't the media profess its usual outrage?

The Obama administration has been rife with scandal since its inception in 2009. Within weeks of the president's inauguration, Timothy Geithner and Kathleen Sebelius, both nominated to important cabinet posts (Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Health and Human Services respectively), were discovered to have income tax problems requiring rectification. Mrs. Sebelius was more recently found to be in violation of Federal campaign laws, which received very limited media attention. Why didn't the media question Obama's selection process?

The "minor" scandals metamorphosed into larger wrongdoing such as green energy cronyism, the EPA-Lisa Jackson record-masking activities and Eric Holder's actions that undermined the rule of law; no prosecution of the New Black Panther's for voter intimidation in Philadelphia andthe reopening of cases against already cleared federal agents for torture. Then Fast and Furious and Benghazi materialized elevating Obama's scandal plagued administration into the major leagues (executive privilege was also used). What has the media reported and how was it reported?

With few exceptions the media has not covered, has downplayed, or made excuses for these significant Obama administration failures in judgment, honesty, leadership, and administrative control. The media's lack of interest in the failings of Obama's first term leads to two obvious questions; first, why? ...and second, will this pattern of behavior change in his second term?

Causes? ...first, the media and key journalists may fear losing access to the president and his subordinates if their scrutiny or reporting becomes notably critical even when warranted. This concern certainly has a basis in fact since Obama attempted to severely limit Fox News' access and coverage in the past. Second, the media can be described as quite liberal/progressive in both persuasion and as measured by scholarly studies and may not feel comfortable criticizing/questioning their own beliefs and biases.

Third, journalists may be attempting to avoid being targeted by administration bullies; a tactic that has been successfully employed to silence other critics (e.g. conservatives, Republicans). This tactic could bring them to the attention of their liberal community and serve to at least temporarily cause personal discomfort. Fourth, a trepidation that race could be employed to silence a pattern of open and persistent negative measurement of Obama's decisions warrants consideration. Again, the past suggests that a racist charge is possible given the treatment that Mayor Cory Booker (and others) received from Obama's minions.

Yet the reasons for such favorable treatment go well beyond those mentioned. Obama has been treated almost as a godlike figure by some. The MSM's coverage of the president has been so obviously prejudiced in his favor that polling surfaces an appreciable decline in the media's credibility/standing with the public. Additionally, traditional MSM outlets have suffered financially due to the emergence of alternative news sources (e.g. internet, Twitter) along with their clearly biased content.

Thus if the past is predictive, little will change in the media's sentiment toward Obama in his second term. The media does not seem repentant for their past coverage of Obama and in fact some narratives have moved to cheerleading (e.g. J. Dickerson-CBS) the goals of future presidential attacks on his political opposition and other dissenters. The memes that insinuate or directly portray Republicans and conservatives as unpatriotic, insensitive, morally deficient, liars, racists, and corrupt have continued. The media's examination of Obama's activities and decisions has been shameful and has progressed to shameless. The material bias in favor of Obama will remain with high probability during his second term.



Shouting Louder

 Thomas Sowell

An old-time trial lawyer once said, "When your case is weak, shout louder!"

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shouted louder when asked about the Obama administration's story last fall that the September 11th attack on the U.S. ambassador's quarters in Benghazi was due to an anti-Islamic video that someone in the United States had put on the Internet, and thereby provoked a protest that escalated into violence.

She shouted: "We had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?"

Students of propaganda may admire the skill with which she misdirected people's attention. But those of us who are still old-fashioned enough to think that the truth matters cannot applaud her success.

Let's go back to square one.

After the attack on the American ambassador's quarters in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the Obama administration immediately blamed it on the anti-Islamic video.

Moreover, this version of what happened was not just a passing remark. It was a story that the administration kept repeating insistently. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice repeated that story on five different television talk shows on the same Sunday. President Obama himself repeated the same story at the United Nations. The man who put the anti-Islamic video on the Internet was arrested for a parole violation, creating more media coverage to keep attention on this theme.

"What difference, at this point, does it make?" Secretary Clinton now asks. What difference did it make at the time?

Obviously the Obama administration thought it made a difference, with an election coming up. Prior to the attack, the administration's political theme was that Barack Obama had killed Osama bin Laden (with an assist from the Navy SEALs), vanquished Al Qaeda and was now in the process of putting the terrorist threat behind us.

To have the attack in Benghazi be seen as a terrorist attack -- and a devastating one -- would have ruined this picture, with an election coming up.

The key question that remains unanswered to this day is: What speck of evidence is there that the attack in Benghazi was due to the much-discussed video or that there was ever any protest demonstration outside the ambassador's quarters?

If there is no evidence whatever, then the whole attempt to say that a protest over a video escalated into an attack was a deliberate hoax by people who knew better.

There is no point in the administration saying that they did not have all the facts about the attack immediately. All the facts may never be known. But the real question is: Did you have even a single fact that would substantiate your repeated claims that some video led to a protest in Benghazi that got out of hand and led to the attack?

Interestingly, Hillary Clinton herself was not featured in this campaign, even though as Secretary of State she was a key figure. Hillary was not about to create video footage that could come back to haunt her if she runs for President of the United States in 2016.

In a larger context, the Benghazi attack showed that you cannot unilaterally end the "war on terror" or the terrorists' war on us, by declaring victory.

For years, the Bush administration's phrase "war on terror" was avoided like the plague by the Obama administration, even if that required the Fort Hood massacre to be classified as "workplace violence." But, no matter how clever the rhetoric, reality nevertheless rears its ugly head.

Once the September 11th attack in Benghazi is seen for what it was -- a highly coordinated and highly successful operation by terrorists who were said to have been vanquished -- that calls into question the Obama administration's Middle East foreign policy.

That is why it still matters.



The Stuff of Third World Tyrants

 David Limbaugh

President Barack Obama is not just a radical leftist; he is obviously so ensconced in his ideology that he believes -- or wants you to believe -- that anyone who opposes him must have sinister motives.

One of his recurring themes is that some Republicans would work with him but can't do so for fear of reprisal from Grover Norquist on taxes, the National Rifle Association on guns, the conservative House caucus, radio talk show hosts and your garden-variety racists, who allegedly oppose Obama just for sport.

In mid-January, Obama accused the "gun lobby" of "ginning up" fears that the federal government would use the Newtown, Conn., shooting tragedy to seize America's guns, saying, "It's certainly good for business." Is that how presidents should talk?

Obama suggested that GOP congressional opposition was based not on principle but on the fear that unless it resisted Obama's gun-grabbing schemes, it would lose its precious NRA funding. As if the American public agrees with Obama on this issue any more than it did on Obamacare. As if Obama truly cares whether the American public agrees with him on this issue (other than as a means to an end) any more than he cared about the public's view on Obamacare.

Indeed, this is either record-breaking myopia or sophisticated Orwellian deception. Few things are more palpable on the political scene today than the groundswell of grass-roots support for the right to own firearms under the Second Amendment. It is intrinsic to the American character.

Obama didn't just mischaracterize the public mood on the issue of gun control; he threw in an additional allegation of political corruption against Republicans, saying, "The House Republican majority is made up mostly of members who are in sharply gerrymandered districts that are very safely Republican and may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they're really concerned about is the opinions of their specific Republican constituencies."

Do you see the pattern here? As the leading disciple of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, Obama must delegitimize his political opposition. He can't just debate issues on the merits. He must "pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." We've seen Obama do it on virtually every policy he has promoted -- from demonizing health care professionals and insurance companies in pursuit of Obamacare to taunting "fat cat banks" in his quest for financial "reform" to his defamation of "big oil" to his personal attacks on the "rich" to his savaging of Rep. Paul Ryan and other House Republicans as callous toward seniors and the middle class for daring to reform entitlements.

Obama will not stand for House Republicans to be seen as good-faith opponents to his socialist agenda. He has to slander them with charges of nefarious motives. Republicans oppose his gun grab because they jealously guard their corruptly acquired congressional seats (through gerrymandering), which depend upon blood money from the NRA, which is motivated by its own lust for profits. There simply can't be any legitimate public opposition to his position, because, by gosh, he's the president and his views -- and mandate -- are superior.

Obama isn't content just to vilify his congressional opposition. With a newfound cockiness from his re-election that even exceeds his previous levels, he has now called out Fox News and private citizen Rush Limbaugh. Alinsky's cremated ashes must be glowing with delight.

Obama said, "If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you'll see more of them doing it." He added, "The more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word" and that Democratic leaders are "willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done."

That statement alone should tell you how warped Obama's perspective is. The congressional Democratic leadership is already so leftist and uncompromising that it doesn't have to worry about pleasing more leftist elements. And the left-leaning media not only don't recognize what true compromise is but also don't hold Obama to account for his own habitual refusal to compromise.

That Obama is the most ideologically extreme president in history and routinely demonizes his political opponents is bad enough. But he has crossed the line in targeting the sole TV news outlet that refuses to allow his propaganda to go unchallenged and even more so in attacking commentator Rush Limbaugh for the sin of articulating the opinions of millions upon millions of American patriots who are horrified at Obama's statist agenda.

This is the stuff of Third World tyrants, my friends. This is the MO of dictators, who want to control the media and silence any unfavorable coverage or commentary. Even liberals should be outraged at this abominable behavior. And they should have the integrity to say so.




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