The Fifth Column

The Media's Obama-Sycophancy and Disinterest in Robot Wars: The New Fifth Column

Thaddeus Russell delivers the foreign-policy outrage, correctives on progressives' carceral policies, and an anguished review of Hamilton.


Didja watch President Barack Obama's final press conference Wednesday? It was a remarkable exercise in group therapy and un-self-aware filter-bubbling, in which basically each of the eight multi-part questions (and please do read all of them) could be boiled down to, Sir, um…are we gonna be all right??

Obama, who is one of the all-time great ref-workers when it comes to the media, managed to blow the perfect amount of smoke up the Fourth Estate's nether regions:

So it was that the president who set records for Espionage Act prosecutions and reporter- subpoenaing and Freedom of Information Act stonewalling was able to say with a straight face, without anyone in the press room openly snickering, that one of the issues that will bring him off the sidelines and into the fray during his post-presidency is whether there are "Institutional efforts to silence dissent."

We have some spirited discussion about the media's sudden rediscovery of the virtues of hating on the American president in the latest episode of The Fifth Column, the weekly podcast I co-host with Kmele Foster and Michael "Hollywood" Moynihan. The latter was off reporting on the Inauguration festivities last night, so we supplanted him with beloved serial Reason contributor and renegade historian Thaddeus Russell, author most recently of a wonderful February-issue essay on the progressive roots of mass incarceration. Bad Thad talks about that piece, the conspiracy theorizing of civil rights hero John Lewis, Obama's commutation of Chelsea Manning's sentence, the problems with sovereignty-busting drone warfare, and, of course, Hamilton, which he had seen for the first time hours before. He also goes full Choom Gang with a discussion about how there is no such thing as "objective reality," and I'm pretty sure by the end Kmele caught the fumes. Listen:

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