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August 28, 2011

Obama Has Been Hurt by the Media's Leniency

Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard:

It’s counterintuitive, but Obama has been hurt by the media’s leniency. Both his presidency and reelection prospects have suffered. He’s grown lazy and complacent. The media have encouraged him to believe his speeches are irresistible political catnip, though they aren’t. His overreliance on words hasn’t helped.

The kind of media pressure that can cause a president to sharpen his game, act with urgency, or take bolder steps—that has never been applied to Obama. If it had, I suspect he’d be a more effective, disciplined, energetic, and popular president today. Ronald Reagan is a good role model in this regard. When the media attacked him over gaffes in the 1980 campaign, “Reagan responded like all competitive men by working to improve himself,” says Reagan historian Craig Shirley. “Experience taught him to be better and try harder.” He took this lesson into the White House.

. . .

[T]he media have condoned Obama’s avoidance of leadership. It started when he let Nancy Pelosi draft the $800 billion stimulus and continued when congressional Democrats put together the health care, cap and trade, and financial industry reform bills.

Remember the days when the press rudely shouted questions at Ronald Reagan during news conferences? I do. There were times when they seemed angry and wouldn't let him answer. Now they won't even hit-up Obama over something as serious as, say, Operation Fast and Furious where lives were lost and the trail of dirty deeds appears to lead all the way to the White House. When they do venture close to a topic not on the official White House approved topics list, they are sheepish, almost apologetic. Pathetic, primitive, in-group territoriality. I'd call it childish if it weren't so reptilian.

Republican administrations have to stay on their toes. Democrat administrations do not.

Tangentially related, Tim Groseclose, author of Left Turn, has come up with an interesting formula for calculating media bias.

Left Turn uses three different methods to calculate the Slant Quotients of media outlets. (A Slant Quotient of 50.4 is perfectly centrist. Higher numbers indicate liberal outlets. Lower numbers indicate conservative outlets.)

One method uses think-tank citations as the basic data. According to this method, the following are the SQs of twenty of the most prominent news outlets in the U.S.

. . .

A second method uses loaded political phrases (like “death tax” or “estate tax”) as basic data.

. . .

A third method notes two equally-true sets of facts about the Bush tax cuts: (i) that in dollar terms, the rich received a disproportionate share of the cuts, and (ii) that the cuts made the tax system more progressive—that is, after the cuts took place, the share of the total taxes that the rich would pay actually increased. Liberal politicians and media outlets tended to report fact (i) relatively more, while conservative politicians and media outlets tended to report (ii) relatively more. The third method notes the relative frequencies that an outlet reported fact (i) or (ii).

Check out his site for information on his book and to see some of the tables he has generated with these methods.

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posted by rdbrewer at 12:16 PM

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