When I studied journalism at the University of Washington in Seattle many years ago, we aspiring journalists were always cautioned to avoid getting too close to our news sources in order to maintain our objectivity. Apparently, however, that rule no longer applies as major TV networks show their love for President Obama by broadcasting from the White House.
Not long ago NBC News moved into the White House for a couple of days as overly deferential Nightly News anchor Brian Williams lobbed softball questions at the president, thereby missing an opportunity to grill Obama about serious policy issues. And then on June 24 ABC News broadcast a one-hour "infomercial" for Obama's national health care plan from the White House. Objectivity? Forget about it!
Bernard Goldberg, a former CBS News senior producer, recently published a book titled "A Slobbering Love Affair" in which he lambasted the so-called mainstream media for acting as cheerleaders for the president and his policies. In his book, Goldberg argues that "the media's blatant disregard for their traditional role as ... government watchdog has endangered America and eroded the notion of a free and fair press."
I'm siding with Goldberg as I watch traditional media, print and broadcast alike, push political agendas in their newsrooms. A recent example of fawning coverage was the way in which the venerable New York Times covered last year's presidential election campaign. Obama could do no wrong in the Times' "news" columns while his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), couldn't do anything right. That's when Newsweek magazine became Obama-week.
"Obama has inspired a collective fawning," wrote media critic Robert Samuelson in Real Clear Politics, referring to a Pew Research Center poll that reached a troubling conclusion: "President Barack Obama has enjoyed substantially more positive media coverage than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush during their first months in the White House." Pew examined more than 1,200 news stories in major media and found that 42 percent of them were favorable, more than double the unfavorable coverage of 20 percent. This is unconscionable.
This obvious media bias in favor of Obama plays into the hands of right-wing blowhards like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, who call major TV networks and leading daily newspapers "the government media." What else is it when large news organizations get into bed with the politicians they cover, from the president on down?
As a registered Democrat who voted for Obama, I'm concerned about the increasing politization of the news. Just give me straight news and I'll draw my own conclusions.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, has worked in and around the news business for nearly