Obama rebukes the press

A journalism prize ceremony honoring a New York Times reporter who died in 2008 produced the weirdly incongruous spectacle of Barack Obama rebuking members of the press for trivializing the political process.

It was something to see.  His chin jutted out Mussolini-fashion, the president inveighed against the fluff that characterizes campaign coverage and complained that politics has become “entirely untethered to reason and facts and analysis.”  He scolded the agenda-driven sycophants who abjured basic journalistic responsibilities to gush over silly, wildly overblown Hollywood productions showcasing faux Greek columns and fatuous blather about halting the rise of the oceans, the sort of ham-fisted propaganda that would have embarrassed Leni Riefenstahl.  He chided grown men who squealed like schoolgirls over a candidate’s ability to read from a teleprompter, demanding that they act their age.  Yes, it was quite a spectacle.

Media reaction was prompt and resolute. At a press conference the following day, President Obama was asked to explain why he joined a church presided over by a virulently anti-American racist. He was taken to task on his long friendship with the Jew-hating preacher, on his complaisance in the face of sermons suffused with bigotry. One budding Sam Donaldson crossed the line separating boldness from lese majesty to ask why he had chosen the author of those sermons to officiate at his wedding and the baptisms of his children.  The President, displaying his trademark cool, disposed of the effrontery with Jesuitical subtlety by pointing out that although he loved Reverend Wright, he had thrown him under the bus to make himself acceptable to the electorate. Reporters rose as one and cheered the courage of their Sun King.

There is a kernel of truth at the center of this protracted April Fool’s joke: Barack Obama really, no kidding, honest-to-God reproached the mainstream media for failing to discharge their duties as journalists.  Although the president managed to deliver his remarks with a perfectly straight face, he made it clear that he wasn’t being entirely facetious.  He was dead earnest when he insisted that his adoring acolytes were giving those evil Republicans a pass.  He expects better of his team.

A journalism prize ceremony honoring a New York Times reporter who died in 2008 produced the weirdly incongruous spectacle of Barack Obama rebuking members of the press for trivializing the political process.

It was something to see.  His chin jutted out Mussolini-fashion, the president inveighed against the fluff that characterizes campaign coverage and complained that politics has become “entirely untethered to reason and facts and analysis.”  He scolded the agenda-driven sycophants who abjured basic journalistic responsibilities to gush over silly, wildly overblown Hollywood productions showcasing faux Greek columns and fatuous blather about halting the rise of the oceans, the sort of ham-fisted propaganda that would have embarrassed Leni Riefenstahl.  He chided grown men who squealed like schoolgirls over a candidate’s ability to read from a teleprompter, demanding that they act their age.  Yes, it was quite a spectacle.

Media reaction was prompt and resolute. At a press conference the following day, President Obama was asked to explain why he joined a church presided over by a virulently anti-American racist. He was taken to task on his long friendship with the Jew-hating preacher, on his complaisance in the face of sermons suffused with bigotry. One budding Sam Donaldson crossed the line separating boldness from lese majesty to ask why he had chosen the author of those sermons to officiate at his wedding and the baptisms of his children.  The President, displaying his trademark cool, disposed of the effrontery with Jesuitical subtlety by pointing out that although he loved Reverend Wright, he had thrown him under the bus to make himself acceptable to the electorate. Reporters rose as one and cheered the courage of their Sun King.

The blizzard of tough questions intensified. Why had he described the actions of fanatic Islamic terrorists who sought out a Kosher grocery store and slaughtered Jews there as “random violence? Did he understand the meaning of the word “random”? Was the shakedown artist Al Sharpton an appropriate choice for go-to-guy on racial matters? Could he tell us about those “enormous contributions to America made by Muslims”? Was he referring to the creation of the US Navy, made necessary by the predations of the Barbary pirates? What did he think of Al Sharpton’s behavior following the brutal rape of the Central Park jogger when the hustler had dispatched his Rent-a-Mob to the hospital where the comatose woman hovered between life and death? Did he think that the mob’s shouting “whore” at the hospital windows was respectful of the victim?  Why had Susan Rice been dispatched to five Sunday talk shows to peddle an outright lie? Why was the fabrication about an obscure video his administration’s official position for two weeks? What was his interpretation of Al Sharpton’s silence on the rape and beating of a black woman in Brooklyn that happened soon after the jogger was attacked? What does he think it says about Donald Trump that the mogul opted to pay the medical expenses for yet another black life that didn’t matter at all to black “leaders”?

Why did he look the American public in the eye and lie about his healthcare program? Why did he lie about not knowing terrorist Bill Ayers? Why exactly are his academic records sealed more tightly than the Manhattan Project ever was? Seriously, Al Sharpton?

There is a kernel of truth at the center of this protracted April Fool’s joke: Barack Obama really, no kidding, honest-to-God reproached the mainstream media for failing to discharge their duties as journalists.  Although the president managed to deliver his remarks with a perfectly straight face, he made it clear that he wasn’t being entirely facetious.  He was dead earnest when he insisted that his adoring acolytes were giving those evil Republicans a pass.  He expects better of his team.