LOS ANGELES - In the week before the US presidential elections, Obama’s campaign officials removed three veteran journalists from his plane – correspondents for the Washington Times, Dallas News, and New York Post – in order to make room for journalists from smaller magazines.
Days before that, the three dailies endorsed McCain. Meanwhile, a newscaster from Florida dared ask Joe Biden a question he didn’t like too much. The result in that case too was a sweeping boycott: Obama’s campaign was quick to announce that the entire network will no longer be granted interviews, responses, or any kind of attention from the candidate.
When these things happened, Obama already enjoyed a comfortable lead in the polls, and he would have likely won the elections even if
One can argue that a presidential candidate has the right to decide which media outlets he’ll be cooperating with, yet the above-mentioned incidents reflect how sensitive and complex the media’s role is in the Obama era.
Throughout the election campaign, journalists mostly refused to address issues that could harm the president-elect (his thin record, dubious personal connections in Chicago, changing positions etc.) while being swept by the enthusiastic rhetoric, just like the many Obama fans.
However, the campaign is over and Obama is no longer a “historic candidate,” but rather, the next president of the world’s strongest country; he will have limitless power at his disposal, including an impressive majority at Congress. Will the journalists be able to serve as a belligerent opposition?
The first signs are not encouraging. Instead of demanding answers from the president-elect (who already managed to break his pledges to keep lobbyists away from his administration,) America’s top journalists make do with infantile attention to the kind of puppy Obama’s daughters will be getting.
Meanwhile, it appears that Obama is seriously considering the possibility of reintroducing the “fairness doctrine” that was in place in the years 1949-1987 and would obligate radio stations – the Right’s media stronghold – to balance right-wing hosts with leftist hosts.
So what are we seeing here? The beginning of a silencing process under guise of a “new era”? In my area of residence, I have been feeling for a while now that people would prefer to curb any discussion that may rain on Obama’s parade. Several weeks ago, during my weekly jog with some friends, I dared raise some arguments (intelligent ones, in my view) in favor of McCain. One of my friends turned to me and slammed me with hysterical screams, as if I just endorsed Hitler. My brother experienced a similar attitude when he attempted to argue that Obama’s policy may harm Israel in the future.
The problem is not the substance, but rather, the tone: Obama stirs among his supporters the kind of enthusiasm that justifies, in their view, a sort of Bolshevism. The overall message on the streets of America is as follows: Something historic, huge, fantastic, almost-orgasmic is happening here. Let’s all hug lovingly, unite around him, and stop being petty.
Of course, we should hope that the ecstasy will fade away, and that Obama will take his post and just like any other normal leader will be judged based on his positions, deeds, and results. Yet what we’ll be seeing until this happens isn’t too pleasant.