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Can Obama lead without active assistance of MSM?
(to which he had become accustomed in campaign & administration’s early days)

Barack Obama has done so well since he first came to national attention (with his speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention) in large measure because of the fawning treatment he has received from the news media.  They have soft-pedaled stories of his past association with a rogue’s gallery of unsavory characters.  They all but ignored his extremely liberal voting record and failed to question how he could run as a new kind of politician when he was a product of Chicago’s machine.  (He had no record of ever challenging that notoriously corrupt machine.)

Basically, the media all but exempted him from going on defense.  In those few moments when during the 2008 campaign, their best efforts notwithstanding,  he was put on defense, he stumbled badly.  In the immediate aftermath of the GOP convention,* it looked like the wheels were coming off his campaign busBarack Obama was not good on defense.

So, now with the media narrative shifting, will Obama be able to push his agenda without the active assistance of the MSM, indeed, with their increased skepticism–as they are now offering greater coverage to (and even shown some sympathy for) critics of his plans?

*Maybe the media grew to so hate Sarah Palin because her nomination caused the narrative of last fall’s campaign to shift.  In the years since she had stepped down as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, she had effected more real reform than had Obama in his entire political career.



  1. Although the mainstream media’s coverage of Obama is noting falling poll numbers, lack of support for his health care plan, extending invitations to those critical of his handling of the Gates issue, etc., I don’t think the narrative of supporting Obama has changed. I’m not sure what Obama would have to do to have his spokespeople turn on him (or at least be honest about him), but when the very people whose influence (via narrative) largely and knowingly controls a lazy public perception, then I expect we’ll see a digging in of the heels rather than a change of coverage.

    I do think that the sums of money that have been wasted (TARP, bailouts) are so huge that people have no sense of how to relate, but the health care issue brings a dollars-and-sense, personal perspective to what Obama is actually attempting, hence his haste. I don’t think the mainstream media has changed its narrative, but public attitude has changed despite their (and his) best efforts to the contrary. So I agree that the narrative has changed, but I haven’t observed any significant change in the media narrative.

    Comment by Ignatius — July 30, 2009 @ 3:06 pm - July 30, 2009

  2. It was said of Margaret Thatcher that the media put her on a pedestal in order to tear her down.
    One can hope history repeats itself.

    Comment by Man — July 30, 2009 @ 3:18 pm - July 30, 2009

  3. Actually, I don’t think Obama can lead… period.

    What was he leading up till now. A feel-good movement. Hell, I really wanted to join. But there was, and continues to be, no there there. He’s a likable guy. and as a general rule, I’m not opposed to the direction he’s going with foreign policy. At least I understand the validity of the approach, regardless of the so-far clumsy execution (I know I’m gonna get flack for that comment, but what-ev). But even there he’s not leading in a coherent way. It’s more like a constant stumble from one place to the next. Yes, al political figures stumble from time to time, but so far, he’s looking like the next Gerald Ford, no offense to Ford – he was a good guy serving at a bad time.

    Comment by Sonicfrog — July 30, 2009 @ 4:13 pm - July 30, 2009

  4. Posted Thursday, 30 July.
    I just finished watching Obama’s comments on the economy . He looked tired and very much unsure of himself. Certainly, he didn’t come across as a leader. Afterwards, a news commentator stated Obama failed to inspire confidence and also failed as a communicator to inspire the public.

    Comment by Man — July 30, 2009 @ 4:29 pm - July 30, 2009

  5. Ignatius, the media narrative wasn’t “We support Obama.” The narrative was a messianic one, “Hope and Change come to America.” Everything Obama said and did was reported in the context of transforming America and heralding the Bright Future. That is slowly shifting. The shift began early when the Wall Street/finance Democrats in the media began to realize that he was going to be really, really bad for money. Now more and more are realizing that he isn’t perfect. Not that he isn’t a Democrat and they wouldn’t vote for him again…just that he isn’t Jesus.

    Comment by Fearsome Comrade — July 30, 2009 @ 4:43 pm - July 30, 2009

  6. GE, owner of the NBC networks, has been given a pass by Mr. Frank and the Obama Administration on further regulation of GE’s finance arm. The company will not have to sip off that division.

    I wonder how that happed?

    Comment by TnnsNE1 — July 30, 2009 @ 5:17 pm - July 30, 2009

  7. Fearsome, perhaps you’re right about the hope and change aspect, but they still support him — that’s always been part of the narrative and it hasn’t changed. I doubt that will ever change.

    Comment by Ignatius — July 30, 2009 @ 5:23 pm - July 30, 2009

  8. It will be interesting to see the impact the MSM has on voters in 2010 adn 2012 after they shamelessly propped up Obama.

    Comment by AeroClayton — July 30, 2009 @ 5:24 pm - July 30, 2009

  9. It will be interesting to see how much impact the MSM will have on 2010 and 2012 elections after propping up Obama.

    Comment by AeroClayton — July 30, 2009 @ 5:25 pm - July 30, 2009

  10. Even Sullivan is feeling the heat for being a bit critical of Obama.

    Comment by sonicfrog — July 30, 2009 @ 6:13 pm - July 30, 2009

  11. Has Sullivan has given up Hope of getting Obama as his babydaddy?

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 30, 2009 @ 8:27 pm - July 30, 2009

  12. (He had no record of ever challenging that notoriously corrupt machine.)

    Hell, he had no record of anything. Zip, zero, nadda. Pretty much all we have to go on regarding his past is his word and damn anyone who tries to find out.

    Folks are coming to the realization that you can’t elect someone just to ASSuage White Guilt.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 30, 2009 @ 9:39 pm - July 30, 2009

  13. What a wasted opportunity for the black community! There are several well qualified persons of color who could have done a good job as president. Unfortunately, the least qualified is president.

    Comment by Man — July 30, 2009 @ 10:51 pm - July 30, 2009

  14. The media will keep propping Him up until the smell is so bad that it can’t be ignored.

    I heard a report on ABC radio today relating the success of Obama’s order (Ann Compton made it a point to use the word “order” a couple of times) to federal agencies to save $100 million (which is 0.005 percent of $2 trillion). If the Bushies announced a “victory” like that, the press corps would be ROTFL.

    So while more and more people are dealing with 100 percent cuts in income, they can take heart in the fact that their public servants are being urged to make two-sided copies.

    Comment by SoCalRobert — July 30, 2009 @ 11:41 pm - July 30, 2009

  15. Silly question. Obama can’t lead WITH the active assistance of the MSM.

    Comment by Diggs — July 31, 2009 @ 7:57 am - July 31, 2009

  16. I am no fan of Obama, and not really objective. But I have to agree with #3. Obama is not a leader. That isn’t to say he is a bad person. I loathe his politics generally, but that does not change the fact he simply isn’t very effective in promoting them. He has allowed Congress to run roughshod over him with the stimulus and health care bill. He does not seem to know how to shepherd legislation through.

    You can hate bush and his policies all you want, but the guy led on the war on terror. He believed in it and pushed it relentlessly. Whether it was a good or bad thing is irrelevant to my point.

    Comment by JP — July 31, 2009 @ 8:31 am - July 31, 2009

  17. I also feel like the press is grading this guy on the curve, because he is liberal, and the first black. He is not an effective executive in chief to date. That calling police ‘stupid’ without the facts……that is a mindblowing error for a president to make. How on earth could the PRESIDENT of the US think it smart to comment on that? More evidence that Obama became president at least 12 years too early. I’d still despise his politics of course, but if he were older and more experienced, he’d be more effective.

    Comment by JP — July 31, 2009 @ 8:34 am - July 31, 2009

  18. I believe Obama’s rough patch is only beginning. In a few months, I think the MSM will begin to run “one year anniversary” of Obama’s historic election. At that point (though not a perfect calendar) people will start to think to themselves “hey, it’s been a year and things are still in the toilet” mentality. Particularly as the unemployment numers rise, “flashbacks” of where the economy stood (though they won’t show the unemploment figures from fall 08), the drawdown of Iraq and the increased violence in Afghanistan (his campaign of getting Osama where Osama was) and his face on TV basically 24/7 for the last 24 months will give people pause.

    Of course the MSM will do all it can to hide the fact that his signature issue probably will not have passed by then, the stimulus will seem years ago with nothing to show for it, 60-90 days until the “deadline” for Iran to come to the table and his campaign of broken promises will give people even more pause.

    There are two pink elephants in the room. First is the Gates episode. However implausible, he could claim that he was never there when Rev Wright spoke certain phrases for 20 years. By commenting in the way he did with not knowing the facts a good number of people who could claim he didn’t hear Wright and was not influenced cannot claim he was, at worst, perhaps a “former” believer in Wright’s rantings. They will try but that narrative is harder to press now and will stick in the back of people’s minds.

    Second, whether you’re Obama or Teddy R., standing up and giving a speech in campaign mode in a passioned voice with the crowd roaring behind you, almost like a revival, is inspiring when done during campaigning. When it’s done to push something like HC, raising your voice and good old yelling-n-screaming to get the crowd fired up comes across as whiny and mean when you’re supporting an idea that is stuck in the mud and trying to change people’s minds. Almost as though you’re looking to pick a fight.

    Lastly, be outsourcing the stimulus, HC and cap-n-tax, I think people look around and say “what is he doing” while the economy continues to slide. Certainly golfing, basically every week for the past 2 months and probably continuing while congress is in recess in Aug will paint a guy not willing to do the heavy lifting while ordinary Americans continue to struggle. He starts to fit the cariacture of Chauncey the Gardner. Only without the good ideas.

    Comment by MarkButter in SoCal — July 31, 2009 @ 9:04 am - July 31, 2009

  19. They’ll support him until some of it gets on their shoe.

    Then, they’ll smear it off – and him with it – when something better comes along.

    Meantime, Hillary will be “waiting in the wings” with millions and millions and millions of dollars.

    Remember … the press hates to be made to look stupid. And he’s making them look like morons. There’s something better on the horizon.

    If you don’t have plans to be at the Democrat convention in 2012 – make them now.

    Comment by formerreporter — July 31, 2009 @ 9:13 am - July 31, 2009

  20. I think the left liberal media will continue to support Obama until they think he has become a liability to their agenda – if it ever comes to that. It is simply the nature of industrial age mass media to try to control the narrative – the same is true of the conservative outlets. The few to many structure of mass media gives it that power regardless of ideology. According to the MSM’s own Newseum in DC over half the American people don’t trust the media any more so I think it is fair to say that their influence is diminishing. They still have a lot of power as we saw (particularly with Hillary, I thought) during the election. What I think is happening now is that both Obama and the fond dreams of mid century liberalism are having to actually govern and do it in extraordinarily bad economic times. The US rejected that vision though many still believe in it while America’s center of gravity remains well to the right. I think Obama and the left of the Dem party are trying to rush through their program while they have the upper hand, but it is coming unstuck. The blue dogs are already balking and the electorate will too. In good times they might get away with it – LBJ did. But we really have less wealth to expand government so a lot of the new initiatives will fail and get rolled back. Take medicine. I happen to be an American living in Australia where we have a public AND a private medical system which together cost the country 8.8% (in 2005) of GDP The US is spending 16.5% of GDP for a similar outcome in terms of the health of the population. Good luck extending coverage and prying loose much of that extra 8% from the vested interests involved.

    Comment by Lorenz Gude — July 31, 2009 @ 1:04 pm - July 31, 2009

  21. The Blue Dress Media will not let Obama down because they are so personally and professionally invested in his “success”, which will be defined by them.

    The Blue Dress Media will need to curry favor with Obama because their corporate parents will be part of the Obama team, such as GE.

    That greater than 95% of the Blue Dress Media voted for the One, will allow them to conveniently report what they think is newsworthy, and again play a role in defining his “success”.

    That I can call them the Blue (Blew) Dress Media, and you know what I am talking about, is evidence of the media’s disposition for the One.

    It’s a good time to read Orwell again.

    Comment by LA Conservative — July 31, 2009 @ 1:05 pm - July 31, 2009

  22. #16 – I noticed you capitalized “Obama” but did not extend the same courtesy to his predecessor, who you admit “led on the war on terror.”

    I am hoping it was merely an oversight.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — July 31, 2009 @ 1:05 pm - July 31, 2009

  23. #17 – “I also feel like the press is grading this guy on the curve, because he is liberal, and the first black. He is not an effective executive in chief to date.”

    So in other words, he’s inferior to a white man or woman in the same position?


    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — July 31, 2009 @ 1:06 pm - July 31, 2009

  24. Contrast with Sarah Palin, and you understand the power, bias and hypocracy of the media.

    She is a reformer; he is the undocumented President. There is a very dim backtrail of works or deeds, except a trail of former relatives and colleagues denied and thrown under the bus.

    Comment by Rob — July 31, 2009 @ 9:57 pm - July 31, 2009

  25. Letterman has started making fun of Effendi Obama, big time. As we use to say in the Marine Corps, “Stand the f**k by!”

    Comment by Lou Gots — July 31, 2009 @ 10:30 pm - July 31, 2009

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