CHICAGO, May 16, 2013 — The long-term danger is that the political system and the public start to view the president, his motives and ideas through a more skeptical lens. The short-term danger is the press races for new details, new scandals, new expressions of indignity with each passing day. (Politico)
Politico could not be more wrong. Politico gives cover and concealment to the president and his party. The only good thing about Politico is that it is well written.
There is no danger of viewing the president, politicians, or even government as a whole through a skeptical lens. That is safety. The press is supposed to “race for new details, scandals, and expressions of indignity with each passing day”. That is what they are supposedly paid for. They should even be more skeptical than the public. Again, it is not a danger. It is safety. The press is not supposed to glorify and deify politicians or high-level bureaucrats.
The danger, long and short term is when the public and the media stop being vigilant and skeptical. The real danger is an apathetic public and a do nothing news media entwined in a double helix.
When you turn politicians into idols and put them on pedestals to be adored and worshipped, they start believing their own publicity. Their egos are fed to the point of morbid obesity. They become infallible, omnipotent, and too big to fail. They demand credit and the benefit of the doubt even when harsh criticism is due.
This administration’s problems can be directly traced to the news media. They allowed the Obama administration to tightly and carefully micromanage and control them. Everything was staged as carefully as a television production. The president was the ringmaster of his own circus, while his spokesmen, Robert Gibbs and Jay Carney, were the carnival barkers. The news media were the trained animal acts.
The blinders the media wore to protect themselves from the president’s brilliant aura are slowly coming off. The news media now have a major, embarrassing problem. How do they become the snarling watchdogs of the president they protected like a pack of snarling junkyard dogs? How to they flip?
How can the press, in good conscience, turn on the man they praised to high heaven? Can they take back all the glowing things they wrote or reported? Can they start to objectively report and criticize the scandals, lies, bungling, incompetence, opaqueness and cover-ups of this administration? Can they fairly and accurately give credit where credit is due and harsh criticism when criticism is due?
The news media have been looking for a new John F. Kennedy since the day he died. They mercilessly and ruthlessly hounded each and every one of his predecessors until Bill Clinton came along. They defended the man from Hope to the last man and still do today. The news media never considered George W. Bush a legitimate president, so they “cried havoc” and unleashed the dogs of war on him.
Along comes candidate Obama. From the time he announced his run for the presidency, the news media made him the anointed one. He was their savior, the messiah they were waiting for with baited breath and raging hormones. The news media became the Barack Obama campaign media. When he was elected they became the President Obama Press Corps. The news media created the new Camelot.
Now the blush is off the rose. The news media are a lost tribe wandering in the desert of their own creation while their gilded Baal is corroding. This is what happens when you create false gods out of mere mortals.
Now, with the blinders off, they see this administration for what it is. They realize that Obama is a mere mortal, with all the flaws and foibles of the human race. Their hopes, faith, and dreams have been destroyed. Their new Camelot turned into Dante’s Inferno where suffering abounds.
The news media must now seek redemption and forgiveness. They must do penance. An apology would be nice, but the media never apologize for being wrong. The only path to redemption and forgiveness is for them to shake off their hopium* induced hangovers, put their noses to the grindstone, and do their jobs. Become the snarling, drooling, snapping, watchdogs of government they are supposed to be.
First and foremost, they must start pummeling Jay Carney with real questions, tough questions, and unscripted questions. Questions that will make the Propaganda Minister overdose on antacids and hemorrhoid medication. Questions that will keep him up at night wondering why his hale and hearty pals turned on him.
Every time the president is before the news media, no matter what event or venue he is at, they must assault him with questions about the scandals on his watch until they get results. If he demurs or treats them like rude petulant children, they should double down and demand answers.
No one in this administration should be safe from the eyes and ears, the cameras and microphones of reporters. Now is the time for courageous, fearless, and tenacious reporting. Quislings and cult members need not apply.
The news media embarrassed itself starting with the 2008 campaign. They lost any shred of credibility they had left. They could redeem themselves just by doing the job they are supposed to do. Start telling the American public the truth; truth based on accurate fact checking, double checking, and even painful triple checking. The kind of checking that demands a DNA test to determine if mommy and daddy are really their parents.
The news media must shake off the mantles of cowardice and lazy access journalism. They must pursue stories and scandals to their end, no matter if the ending is happy, sad, or tragic. They must embrace the legacy of cold cynical skepticism all the great legendary journalists possessed.
The spotlight is on the news media. Now is their moment to shine. The question is, will they step out onto the stage or continue to hide in the woodwork like cockroaches?
*”Hopium” was coined by Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass.
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