Jonathan Bernstein and I agree on very little, but I couldn’t have said it any better than this about the media coverage of the president: “[T]here’s plenty of stuff about Barack Obama’s presidency and his plans for a second term that the press could usefully report on. Anything that we’re going to learn about his life before then might be interesting, but doesn’t really have anything to do with the choice voters will be making this fall.” He’s got that right.
First, to my friends on the right: Obama isn’t going to lose the election because voters suddenly decide he’s a leftist (he is) or he had the skids greased by fawning professors and the Chicago machine (he did, but so what?). It borders on delusional to think that if Americans could just be convinced that his pretentious memoirs were not only pretentious but false that they’d boot him from office. Get over it. And that means Bill Ayers, too.
But what about “useful” reporting? I have suggested a list of topics including domestic and foreign policy, the Supreme Court, human rights and energy policy. But in fact the media seem not to be up for any serious, deliberate review of his presidency. Obama is acting like he hasn't been president for three years and the press seems to go along. Is this bias? Laziness? Both, perhaps.
Despite the proliferation of news and analysis on the Web, and the absences of length restrictions (other than readers’ patience) that stymie print reporters, the New Media are as obsessed as the Old Media with the trivial and the irrelevant, whether it is the wives’ wardrobe (I’ll fume in silence about the nerve of the media to critique their appearance and then slam them for glamming up) or Mormonism or polls months and months in advance of the election that have zero meaning.
There isn’t a lack of space for energetic reporting on the president’s record. There’s a lack of will and incentive to look at hard questions like: Why is the Obama “recovery” so weak? Or: What is the goal of the Obama energy policy? Or: What do the defense sequestration cuts entail?
In their frivolousness the media aid and abet Obama’s desire to make the election about anything other than his record. It is noteworthy that the same crowd that is always complaining about politicians’ lack of seriousness is, so far, covering practically nothing serious.