The New York Times recently wrote a story about President Barack Obama’s news consumption habits that paints him as a president who thinks the mainstream media is unfair to him, and reveals that Obama, contrary his cool and detached facade, is often thin-skinned when it comes to articles and commentary that are critical of him or his policies.
Yet, the article, which attempts to be critical, helps the Obama campaign get out some of its talking points. It shows how the mainstream media, even when they act like they are being critical, end up helping Obama more than they hurt him.
The article opens with an anecdote about how Obama is even bothered by news articles that deal with things like traffic (perhaps he should meet with his Jobs Council instead of obsessing with news reports?) and makes certain to include this quote from an Obama official: “The feeling was, ‘man, we can’t catch a break.’ ”
Instead of positing the question about why Obama would pay attention to such things when the economy is a mess or whether the administration really has not caught any breaks from the mainstream press, the Times just uses the quote to set the tone for the rest of the article, which gets the White House’s message — that the mainstream media has been unfair to Obama (which is laughable) — across to a broader audience and to the rest of the elite media.
The Times writes that “Obama is an avid consumer of political news and commentary” who voraciously reads “newspapers and magazines on his iPad and in print” and dips “into blogs and Twitter.” Obama “regularly gives aides detailed descriptions of articles that he liked, and he can be thin-skinned about those that he does not.”
Obama does pay attention to conservative new media outlets like Breitbart News, which was made even more evident when he randomly decided to talk about how he used to dress up in the types of clothing the mainstream media mocked Tea Party members for wearing before doing so was cool.
Breitbart News published a photo that the mainstream media had conveniently overlooked of Obama — while he was campaigning for local office in Chicago — dressed in “Tea Party” garb. He also had a tricorn hat in his hand. Six weeks later, Obama, most likely bothered by this report, made reference of the story on the stump. One can only wonder how irritated Obama must get when Breitbart News mocks his campaign’s fundraising e-mails.
Obama often gives off the impression in public that he does not pay attention to the news and only watches ESPN’s Sportscenter. But Obama has made comments criticizing FOX News and conservative talk radio, and they indicate Obama, is keenly aware of — and bothered by — articles that are critical of him, much more than he lets on.
The Times neglects to mention any of this and concedes the media has played a “crucial role in Mr. Obama’s career, helping to make him a national star not long after he had been an anonymous state legislator.”
Of course, the mainstream media has continued to prop up Obama and defend him after he got elected president — acting as his palace guards, enforcers, and distractors — but Obama, according to the article, “has come to believe the news media have had a role in frustrating his ambitions to change the terms of the country’s political discussion.”
The fact that the Times would give Obama’s view — that the mainstream media has not been on his side — equal weight is an example of the “false balance” that Obama denounces in the article, yet the Times is oblivious to it.
Obama often complains about the concept of “false balance.” Obama believes that reporters often give “equal weight to both sides of an argument when one side is factually incorrect” and, according to his advisers, “frequently cites the coverage of health care and the stimulus package as examples” of this “false balance.” In Obama’s mind, the mainstream media, which have neglected issues like Solyndra, Fast and Furious, and other Obama administration scandals and boondoggles, was unfair to him when they have written about Obamacare.
The Times article also happens to note that Obama has had summits with columnists from African-American Web sites like “The Root.” The mention of this in the article, of course, helps Obama with black voters — and the black press who write for black voters — whose enthusiasm for Obama may determine his fate in November.
So even in an article that attempts to be fairly critical of Obama, The Times ends up doing his campaign a lot of favors, which shows that the White House’s gripes about the mainstream media are far-fetched, at best.