The Media Gives the Republican Party a Free Pass to Obstruct (January 8, 2013)


For all the complaints on the right side of the political spectrum, decrying a “liberal media bias” in favor of President Obama, I sometimes wonder if I am alone in drawing the opposite conclusion. That is to say when it comes to reporting on the increasingly partisan deadlock that has virtually consumed Washington, as well as the nation’s inability to accomplish anything beyond an endless train of disappointing stopgap measures, I wonder if the bulk of the country’s media outlets, concerned with mass appeal and the appearance of a balanced approach, have grown too afraid of identifying the Emperor without his clothes.

Case in point, this headline today on Yahoo! News via Reuters:Analysis: Obama shows combativeness entering second term but risks await. The writer, Matt Spetalnick is correct in his observation that before the official commencement of his second elected term, we have seen a President more self-assured and emboldened by poll numbers that consistently reflect an electorate exhausted by Congress’ failure to come together on long-term solutions to real problems, including but not limited to: our national debt, the effect of current entitlement spending on future generations, the systematic annihilation of the middle and working classes, the growing income disparities and education costs that are denying millions of Americans a fair shot at pursuing the American Dream.

However comments like this leave this reader curious as to whether the meaning of “analysis” has been lost on some of those who write about the political machine for a living: “Some critics say Obama now runs the risk of overreaching when he should instead be building Republican bridges to resolve the next looming budget confrontation.”

I do not have to ask Mr. Spetalnick for a list of his sources to hazard a guess as to who some of those “critics” might be: John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, an assortment of Tea Party crackpots or anyone working for these folks, immediately come to mind. As a long-time journalist, I completely understand the need to represent both sides of the story, but I was also under the impression that one of the driving tenets of journalism is to educate the public, to bring issues to light that might otherwise go unresearched by a general population preoccupied with the business of daily life.

I do not mean to single Spetalnick out for special scorn. There are far more egregious examples of bland, wall-sitting journalistic hatchet jobs disguised as legitimate reporting, and we could have a whole separate discussion about the ways in which the consolidation of corporate media and the lower profit margins of traditional journalism have affected the way we receive our “news.” But with that said, analysts and reporters are under no obligation to surrender their insights for a pair of rose colored glasses, and at some point we have to stop letting them get away with it.

Exactly what kind of “bridges” should Obama be building with the GOP? What happened to the one he tried to build in the summer of 2011, the efforts to strike a Grand Bargain with House leaders over the raising of the debt ceiling limit, which included what many liberals considered an unwarranted gift of borderline austere spending cuts? The same one that Republicans ultimately rejected in favor of last month’s manufactured fiscal cliff crisis? The real truth is my friends, nothing short of absolute capitulation on tax policy, spending and limited government would satisfy the current Republican party, and to take that one step further, the party’s platform is BAD for America by almost any standard of growth or savings.

In a true, functioning democracy, when a special interest group has lost perspective and reasoning and turns to policy development that serves a small minority, the end result is marginalization and ultimately, disintegration. With every Presidential election, the GOP moves itself farther away from laying claim to representing the will of the people. Voter turnout and statistics back this conclusion. But now, at the inception of President Obama’s second term, with looming fights in front of us over a host of issues that demand attention and reform, it is time for members of the media to surrender their own manufactured centrism in the interest of moving the country forward.


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