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Obama's Street Cred

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By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 4, 2008; 9:44 AM

I've said many times that Barack Obama has gotten easy treatment from the news media, although that has changed a bit in recent weeks, particularly since the Rev. Jeremiah Wright became a household name, at least in households that watch plenty of cable.

In fact, there's a bit of a narrative about Obama as an elitist starting to take hold in the media, and that could prove troublesome for him. More on that in a moment.

Now one prominent Republican and a key Democrat are pushing the media-love-Barack line, perhaps for their own purposes. That takes the question out of the realm of armchair media critics and directly into the political crossfire.

The architect of the GOP criticism is none other than Karl Rove, a John McCain booster and maxed-out donor, in his new role as Fox News pundit. This comes from a rather revealing GQ interview done by Lisa de Paulo:

" Do you think Obama's gotten a free ride from the press? Yes.

" How so? I don't think they hold him to the same standards. You know, look, his Web site is full of all kinds of proposals written by academics galore. But he's not required to defend them. He's not required to explain what it is he wants to do. Now I think that's changing. I think, when you have an editorial in USA Today that says, in essence, Where's the beef, what's the substance? When reporters start asking him tough questions about his relationship with Tony Rezko--you know, what was the value of the lot? What was the price that you paid? How many fund-raisers did he do for you? How much money did he raise at those fund-raisers? When they start asking him those questions, then it starts to change. I mean, the kind of questions that have been routinely asked of other candidates--about their background and associations and involvements--have only recently begun to be asked of him.

" I get the sense you respect Hillary more than you respect Obama. Off the record?

" Please don't go off the record. Off the record . . . [Yeah, it's good. Sorry.]

" Damn! Now say that on the record. No. Nope. Nope. Nope.

" Let's try again, then: on the record. I get the sense you respect her more than him. Uh, I know her better than I know him. And I just, uh--she has been around public life a lot longer and has demonstrated, you know, more involvement than he has."

Off the record, I'd love to know what he said.

But we get a hint of Rove's feelings when he says Obama, in his book, "wrote that 'people like Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, Ralph Reed, and Karl Rove say we are a Christian nation.' And I did not say that. I confronted him about it. At the White House.


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