News & Criticism

I Had a Dream, I Had an Awesome Dream

|

So I pick up the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times, and what do I see but a 16-page special section with a heroic, back-lit photograph of the president-elect under the banner headline:

CHANGE
——————-
OBAMA'S MOMENT

It is an incredible thing to behold. The first words of defenestrated Washington bureau chief Doyle McManus' portentiously laid-out cover text were "WE ARE A DIFFERENT COUNTRY NOW." Page two featured a steely Norman Rockwell-style half-page illustration of the man; page four was topped by the following quote:

'He might be the best president we ever had. But even if he's the biggest jerk in the world, he's done an awesome thing for this country already.'

— Anna Kormos, who struggled with doubts before voting for Obama

Page seven was a photo essay entitled "A CITY CELEBRATES." The page 8-9 double truck was dominated by this photograph:

The page 10 Michelle Obama story was adorned with the Onion-caliber headline "SPEAKING HER MIND, HEART," and on page 14, in case you didn't see it the first time around, my ex-colleagues over on the editorial board reprinted their "Obama for president" endorsement.

What the hell is going on here? In part, you have a major metropolitan newspaper taking the rare (for it) step of reacting to audience demand. The LAT was stunned and delighted to discover in the first several days after the election huge lines of readers actually demanding product, in the form of a reprint from the first post-election paper. Coupled with Obama's recent audience-spiking appearances on 60 Minutes and The Daily Show, we are beginning to see a strange new trend: The liberal media temporarily reversing its long decline by hyping the liberal president.

The second interpretation is somewhat less generous. Namely, the media is in full-on, unembarrassed (OK, maybe slightly embarrassed) gush mode. Connoisseurs of media bias will certainly have their hands full for at least the next six months.

NEXT: Obama's Attorney General on Drugs

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The major media will be the ministry of truth for Obama. They already pissed away what little credibility they had during the election, so what possible motivation do they have to even pretend to be credible anymore? 2008 marks the full beginning of the post journalist era. The days of journalists pretending to be objective and being anything beyond propaganda tools for a given side of a debate are over.

    The bad news for big media is that if all you want and have are propaganda tools, you really don’t need a big expensive news network or newspaper. Propaganda can be just effectively disseminated via the web and can be done much cheaper.

  2. John had never criticized any media source for being too credible of the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq. Not once.

    But reporting that Obama’s election was historic is like Pravda, because it is so obviously of no historical significance.

    ‘kay.

  3. We are so fucked. We have a president with no checks whatsoever on him. He’s got a supportive Congress and the media in his hip pocket.

  4. YYEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!
    *Power Chords*

  5. Come on, LA Times. Tell us how you really feel. Don’t hold back.

  6. Yeah Joe, the media was so easy on Bush. It is amazing the coddling they gave him. I remember Chris Matthew telling everyone how it was his job to help make sure that a Bush administration succeeded because that is what the country needs today.

  7. I’m not sure how to feel about Al Queda calling President Obama an Uncle Tom.

  8. The liberal media temporarily reversing its long decline by hyping the liberal president.

    This will be a temporary remission, at best. The media outlets are reinforcing the very behavior that has cost them so much market share, and doubling down on the Big O. If/when he gets a cold, these media outlets will come down with pneumonia.

  9. Liberal Douche,

    He is our President now. You can’t criticize our President. Who do they think they are!!! Anyone who criticizes the President or our government is just a God reprobate that needs to be taught a lesson. The last thing we need in these times is dissent.

  10. RC,

    I canceled my subsciption to the Washington Post (my wife had subscribed to the Sunday edition) and don’t watch cable news of any type anymore. Best decision I have ever made. I think everyone should do the same. Let them all go under. Whatever takes their place can’t be any worse than what we have now.

  11. John | November 19, 2008, 12:27pm | #

    Yeah Joe, the media was so easy on Bush. It is amazing the coddling they gave him.

    Like I said, John lived in this country during the period between September 11 and the Iraq War, and considers it implausible that anyone would say the media at any point demonstrate pro-Bush bias.

    I remember Chris Matthew telling everyone how it was his job to help make sure that a Bush administration succeeded because that is what the country needs today. Me, too. Like when he covered Flight Suit Day, or said that “only the real wackos don’t like this guy.” So, there’s some progress – you remember that Chris Matthews spent years kissing his butt.

    See if you can conjure up the name Judith Miller, and what appeared under her byline in the NYT. But I guess it’s those partisan blinders again, making me think the media was too credible about Bush’s Iraq claims.

  12. The media had an orgasm over Bush on flight suit day, I remember that much.

  13. We had all the other signposts of fascism already in place, thanks to Bush. All we were missing was a charismatic leader who united the people in worhsipping, or at least following, him. Now we have that, too.

  14. Good Joe,

    Then you can join me in my boycott of the evil media to. Lets let them all go broke. Something tells me that will be a lot worse for your side than mine. But whatever floats your boat.

  15. “The media had an orgasm over Bush on flight suit day, I remember that much.”

    I was overseas when that happened so I honestly can’t argue one way or another. They certainly turned on him like wolves later. Maybe they will do the same with Obama, but I doubt it and I won’t be buying to papers or watching their TV shows to see it.

  16. The media outlets are reinforcing the very behavior that has cost them so much market share, and doubling down on the Big O.

    Uh, yeah. That explains why the largest recipients of that market share – internet outlets like Slate, Salon, Yahoo News, etc – are so much harder on him than the newspapers.

    Or why newspapers had their biggest sales day in years when they ran their “Obama Wins” headlines on November 5.

    Because really, what’s driving down newspapers’ market share is public dissatisfaction with their reporting on Obama.

  17. John, the media is biased towards 1) what will make them money, and 2) what is easy to write/report about.

  18. The media are twits. They want access and cocktail party invites. They aren’t that hard on anybody and suck up all the time. This won’t change just because Obama is president.

  19. What’s wrong with a President McDreamy?

  20. The Telegraph reported yesterday that the great majority of Russians don’t know their stock market declined because Putin and Medvedev won’t let that sort of news be published; “news” outlets are specifically forbidden to use words like “crisis” in reporting on the economy. They are allowed, however, to report that Elizabeth II has hocked her jewelry and London businessmen drowning themselves.

    In six months time, we will be as well informed as the average Russian.

    I’m sure Matt would be equally astonished at this, but I wasn’t.

    Has Weigel quit humping Obama’s leg yet? I bet Michelle is about ready for all those “journalists” to get off her husband.

  21. Oh go fuck yourself stubby. Every four years the side that lost starts going “ZOMG! TEH COMING FASCISM!!!!” like a bunch of ranting loons.

  22. I keep trying to get one CN, but Joe is a tease and won’t do it. Bastard just won’t make an honest man out of me.

  23. John,
    joe a tease? No surprise.

  24. BDB: I can’t fuck myself, I don’t have the proper equipment.

    I don’t believe I implied anything about facism descending on America – we don’t currently have a political party competent enough to do that, and I’m glad.

    The point of the website, I belive, and the Zogby poll embedded on it, was that many, many Obama voters didn’t know a fucking thing about the issues, or about Obama’s stance on those issues, but they knew everything the media had broadcast about Sarah Palin – both the true and the false, including the completely bogus “Africa is a country” meme.

    In other words, the voters who got their information about Obama from the media were fucking clueless.

    I don’t find this surprising.

  25. The guy who did that “poll” is a real piece of work. I laughed out loud at this “interview”.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/interview-with-john-ziegler-on-zogby.html

  26. IOW, this guy is a right wing Michael Moore.

  27. Micheal Moore is the right-wing Micheal Moore.

    He’s actually that fat. The brain that runs the back legs votes GOP.

  28. The page 10 Michelle Obama story was adorned with the Onion-caliber headline “SPEAKING HER MIND, HEART,”

    Note to self: limit exposure to all media when stomach is even partially full, or nonstop vomiting will result.

    Yet, somehow I think all those fat, criminal feministers won’t have a problem reading about mindhearts. Unfortunate, since apparently they could use a little nausea. (Thanks, SugarFree. Why did I read the comments? Why?)

  29. If the guy’s a nutbag, that invalidates all the responses to the survey?

  30. “Turn on your mindheart
    Let it shine wherever you go
    Let it make a happy glow
    For all the world to see”

  31. The media outlets are reinforcing the very behavior that has cost them so much market share, and doubling down on the Big O.

    Uh, yeah. That explains why the largest recipients of that market share – internet outlets like Slate, Salon, Yahoo News, etc – are so much harder on him than the newspapers.

    Of course, this totally misses the point (perhaps because I was less than clear). When I said “the media outlets”, I was referring to the coastal/legacy media outlets who have been in decline for quite some time now.

    Or why newspapers had their biggest sales day in years when they ran their “Obama Wins” headlines on November 5.

    Their biggest sales day in years is a long, long way from a reversal of a long-term decline, and does nothing to refute or even call into doubt my point.

  32. “stubby | November 19, 2008, 1:11pm | #
    If the guy’s a nutbag, that invalidates all the responses to the survey?”

    It suggests he probably rigged the “survey”. Again, he’s like Michael Moore. He does a “documentary” even though he has already reached his pre-determined conclusion before hand and will bend whatever evidence he finds to fit his conclusion.

  33. And yeah, Sarah Palin never said she could “see Russia from her house”. She said you could “see Russia from Alaska”.

    Also, Al Gore never said he “invented the internet.” He said he “took the initiative in creating the internet”.

    But if you gave me a multiple choice test, with no “none of the above” and asked me “Who said he invented the internet?” I’d chose Al Gore, cause it’s close enough, and I’d guess that is what the questioner is going for if there is no “None of the Above”.

  34. we are beginning to see a strange new trend

    Nah. Large media being a mouthpiece for the state is the status quo. Big newpapers pretend they’re being useful by asking tough questions in the editorial section, but this is chicken-shit toughness. Having actual competent reporters on the scene to ask tough questions on the spot has been called for for twenty years, instead we get reporters too afraid to ask tough questions because they want access or reporters too catatonic to read between the lines. With the out-and-out ring-kissing of the President-Elect going on, we can now kiss the tough editorial questions goodbye, too. We shouldv’e gotten front page huge headlines like “BUSH ADMINISTRATION VIOLATES FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT” and instead we get soft headlines like “FBI delays fulfillment of FOIA requests”. That trend will continue.

    In stock market terms, this strange new trend is called a bear rally. The newspapers will be back to their irrelevance a few months after inauguration and The Daily Show will die a slow death as people become aware that the show has lost its edge.

  35. “Turn on your mindheart
    Let it shine wherever you go
    Let it make a happy glow
    For all the world to see”

    This shit writes itself. You’ll be heading up the First Lady’s PR team, right? The Obama Youth Choir will obviously need some mindheart-specific material.

  36. It would be nicer if the population of a country were a bit more concerned about the media lying and smearing in order to obtain their political goals, and people would realize that that way lies authoritarianism.

    Yet, my attempts to undermine the mainstream media were ignored by major bloggers. Not only that, but the ones who’ve treated that plan with derision or who have attempted to dissuade people from doing it have mostly been “libertarians”. And, that’s despite how much it would have helped their minor candidates.

  37. The media had an orgasm over Bush on flight suit day, I remember that much.

    I remember him being mocked in the media.

    But, then again, the only “news” media I read at the time was fark.

  38. Last time I recall such sickly glop was when Camelot descended on Washington and we had gushy story after story about Jackie, Caroline, John-John, etc. etc. I guess the country is always prepared to go ga-ga over youngsters and attractive people in the White House, regardless of the content of their character or their stewardship of the Constitution.

  39. I’m sure Matt would be equally astonished at this, but I wasn’t.

    I love the phrasing of his results from the poll.

    “69 percent could not correctly identify that Obama was a turd sandwich.” TEH BIAS!

  40. I remember the time the liberal media turned on Bush like a pack of wolves – like when the New York Times had the story about Bush’s warrantless wiretapping, but sat on it deliberately until after the 2004 election.

    The Times was like a wolf pack I tell ya! A wolf pack sitting down on the ground and licking their own asses, that is.

  41. John,

    I don’t understand why you would cancel your subscription to the Washington Post. They’re one of the most reliably pro-war on terror and pro-Iraq war newspapers in the country. I can think of a beef you could have with them – it’s about 30 years too late to be worrying about that whole Nixon thing.

  42. Fluffy,

    Where was the LA Times’ 16 page special section on Bush before he was even elected or did anything?

    There’s really no equivalent. Granted, some of this isn’t liberal media bias, but a naked attempt to monetize anything that sells more papers. But there’s some liberal bias in there too.

  43. Where was the LA Times’ 16 page special section on Bush before he was even elected or did anything?

    Hey, for all I know, they had one. I am not a regular or even occasional reader of the LA Times.

  44. “I can think of a beef you could have with them – it’s about 30 years too late to be worrying about that whole Nixon thing.”

    My beef is the tongue wash they gave Obama running up to the election. If you don’t believe me that it was bad, read the Obudsman over the last three weeks and her posts apologizing for how bad it was.

  45. Sigh. FOX, Rush, NR, and many, many others wet themselves over Bush 2000 and 2004. Let the old newspapers have their fun this year. And stop being so fucking partisan. You know who you are.

  46. Who cares what joe the shill says about media bias.

  47. “Sigh. FOX, Rush, NR, and many, many others wet themselves over Bush 2000 and 2004. Let the old newspapers have their fun this year. And stop being so fucking partisan. You know who you are.”

    When did Rush ever claim to be a journalist? H is a talk show host and makes no secret of his leanings. Same with NR. NR is an opinion magazine. If Mother Jones wants to go apeshit over Obama good for them. They make no secret about who they support and what their mission is. The “Big Newspapers” try to claim that they are somehow unbiased sources of news. They can go apeshit over Obama all they want. They just need to stop pretending that they are anything approaching objective.

    You pull the classic bait and switch Democrats pull. When the mainstream media slants their way, you point to opinion journalists on the other side and say, “they do it to”. But then when someone says the media is biased towards liberal, you deny it and claim that they are somehow different than Rush Limbaugh of the National Review.

    Again, if you want to admit that the LA Times or Washington Post has the same level of objectivity that Rush Limbaugh or the National Review has, then I am fine with them going apeshit over Obama.

  48. Reminds me of a sticker I saw pasted onto the ceiling of the elevator in an office building:

    Under new management continuing the same old lousy service.

    Afraid it won’t be even THAT good!

    H.F. Wolff

  49. JOHN: You suck!

    JOE: No, you suck!

    JOHN: You suck more!

    JOE: No, you suck more!

    JOHN: You double dog suck!

    JOE: Suck to the infinity! Duh!

  50. joe doesn’t usually get the last word, does he?

  51. I don’t care if it comes from the right or the left: semi-softcore porn and sickly sweet pap over Presidents deserves all the derision in the world.

    Dewey-eyed, empty-headed little twits who FUCKING CRIED when Obama was elected are entitled to heaps of scorn and ridicule.

  52. “The Angry Optimist | November 19, 2008, 3:00pm | #
    I don’t care if it comes from the right or the left: semi-softcore porn and sickly sweet pap over Presidents deserves all the derision in the world.

    Dewey-eyed, empty-headed little twits who FUCKING CRIED when Obama was elected are entitled to heaps of scorn and ridicule.”

    I agree with this. Cults of Personality are the stupid.

  53. On the flip side of it, the Cult of Hate, deserve derision, too. You know, the dumbasses who are all WE HATES BUSH/OBAMA! YES, YES MY PRECIOUS WE HATES THEM FOREVER AND EVER! and tie every problem in the world to them, fairly or not.

  54. “Dewey-eyed, empty-headed little twits who FUCKING CRIED when Obama was elected are entitled to heaps of scorn and ridicule.”

    I agree with this. Cults of Personality are the stupid.”

    I agree. I defended the hell out of Bush and still do. But I never cried when he was elected. I never thought of him as being anything beyond a politician and never will.

  55. BDB,

    The same people who hated Bush for 8 years will transfer that hate into love of Obama. They get their self esteem from who they support in politics. They hated Bush, so he must be the focus of all evil in the world. Otherwise, resisting him and being critical of him wouldn’t be that important would it? Now they must love Obama and Obama must be the most important figure of the 21st Century. Otherwise, being his supporter is pretty pedistrian. It is the same mentality just in reverse.

    For the record I do not hate Obama. Hell I might even agree with some of the shit he does. I would tell you what shit, if I could figure out just he beleives in. As of yet I can’t figure it out beyond empty platitudes.

  56. Again, if you want to admit that the LA Times or Washington Post has the same level of objectivity that Rush Limbaugh or the National Review has, then I am fine with them going apeshit over Obama.

    OK, I shouldn’t have brought up openly partisan magazines. All I’m saying is there’s bias on both sides. FOX pretends to be unbiased, too. And the Washington Times and the New York Post.

  57. Rhywun,

    That was the whole point of what I was saying. The LA Times and major media with a very few exceptions, are totally in the tank for the Democratic Party. As long as they are willing to admit that, they can celebrate Obama all they want. But they need to understand what they are doing to their credibility and just admit they are partisians.

  58. [QUOTE]Namely, the media is in full-on, unembarrassed (OK, maybe slightly embarrassed) gush mode.[/QUOTE]

    Which is no different than they were before the election.

  59. You’d get the impression from the media that SOCAL citizens are sophisticated worldly folks. Completely unlike citizens of Detroit or Pittsburgh. Setting the steel city aside, I will tell you that the average Motown resident takes a far more realistic and cynical view of the coming Obama administration. I saw no street celebrations, no starry eyed people crying in orgasmic joy over the election of our first 50% black president. Just a weary resignation that very little is going to change in our daily lives.

    Change!? Talk is cheap, put up or shut up. We’ll believe it when we see it. Like Missourians, show us.

    Six years of watching Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick’s offsping will do that I guess.

  60. J Sub D,

    I work with a fair number of black people. I don’t see any of them getting misty eyed over Obama. They are really happy a black person got elected but I don’t find anything creepy about their support of him. Most of them would just be happy if the first black President gets to serve a term without being shot. Many of his white supporters here in big sophisticated DC, wierd as hell if you ask me.

  61. People in So. Cal. are superficial image-obsessed celebrity worshippers. So it’s not surprising that they are ecstatic about Obama.

    IMO, there’s a significant slice of the population for whom political beliefs are a kind of fashion statement. They don’t really give a crap about the issues, they just want to wear the latest trendy cause on their sleeve.

    I don’t even think these people are aware of themselves enough to realize it, either.
    Man, some of the people I encounter, it flabbergasts me how dumb they are. I am completely unable to relate.

  62. Love the Lionel Ritchie ref…

  63. Abdul wrote: “There’s really no equivalent. Granted, some of this isn’t liberal media bias, but a naked attempt to monetize anything that sells more papers. But there’s some liberal bias in there too.”

    Bush wasn’t historic. He wasn’t the first rich old white dude. He wasn’t the first born again Christian. He wasn’t the first President from Texas or Connecticut. He wasn’t the first President from the oil industry.

    Fuck, he wasn’t even the first Bush.

    He was the first MBA President. Big fucking whoop.

  64. John wrote: ” The LA Times and major media with a very few exceptions, are totally in the tank for the Democratic Party.”

    Didn’t Jonah “doughpants” Goldberg have a column in the LA Times?

    Must not be a very deep tank.

  65. BDB | November 19, 2008, 12:39pm | #

    John, the media is biased towards 1) what will make them money, and 2) what is easy to write/report about.

    This bears repeating. For example, why would a network owned by a military contractor (MSNBC’s parent GE makes jet engines for fighter jets, amoung other things) turn into the left-wing version of Fox News?

    Because Olberman and Maddow get good ratings, that’s why. Period, end of story. That is, the exact same reason Fox News has a bunch of right-wingers on.

    Likewise, the LA Times created this supplement to double sales of that particular edition, and maybe pick up a few subscribers in the process.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.