Our Incompetent Media

August was a very slow news month, as you may have noticed. Congress is on vacation — again. We’re all bracing for the trainwrecks of Obamacare implementation and the next budget fight. Syria was pretty much the only big news (well, that and some washed-up child star reminding people that the MTV music awards still exist).

But our media abhors a vacuum. So they’ve blown up Syria in a mega-criss that will define Obama’s presidency. Seriously:

Syria coverage in America’s newspapers is the latest example of purportedly neutral, “objective” press coverage that’s bursting with contestable assumptions, often without the reporters and editors involved quite realizing their biases. The core news: President Obama asked Congress to vote on intervening in Syria. The way it’s being framed in accounts billed as straight news?

The New York Times cast it as a roll of the dice:

“In one of the riskiest gambles of his presidency,” they wrote, “Mr. Obama effectively dared lawmakers to either stand by him or, as he put it, allow President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to get away with murdering children with unconventional weapons.” But Obama is a lame duck, few Americans care about Syria, no one is going to take to the streets if the U.S. doesn’t intervene, and striking Syria’s regime without Congress while flouting public opinion was a far bigger gamble. In fact, you could easily write that Obama averted one of the riskiest gambles of his presidency by postponing a strike and consulting the Congress.

If you’re someone who personalizes politics, fetishizes disagreement, and intends to treat a Congressional rejection of a strike on Syria as a “humiliation” for Obama, the Times frame makes some sense, but make no mistake: its assessment of the Syria debate’s impact is self-fulfilling prophecy from an insular, status-obsessed elite. Obama’s approach is “a gamble” because and only because other insiders imagine that a president being denied by Congress — gasp! — is embarassing, rather than a healthy manifestation of Madisonian checks.

The executive is more prone to war than the legislature or the people. This was foreseen.

And come January 2017, when Obama leaves office, it’ll be hard to find an American outside D.C. who’d treat failure to intervene in Syria as a defining moment. The economy, health care, the end of the war in Iraq: those are his legacies, for better or worse.

You should read the whole thing, because it gets far far worse. The media seems to be ignorant of the Constitutional limts on Obama’s authority, oblivious to the text of the War Powers Act, unable to read their own archives on past debates over war and obsessed with making this the MOST DRAMATIC DECISION EVER! The belief that we must do something about the atrocities in Syria (even though we haven’t done anything for two years and there are atrocities going on elsewhere) is not to be questioned.

The media doesn’t want a political debate; they want an episode of The West Wing.

Comments are closed.

  1. AlexInCT

    August was a very slow news month, as you may have noticed.

    I disagree, and do so vehemently, Hal. August had plenty of real stories for the media to cover. Instead they ignored them, downplayed them, and went along with all the sideshows created by our government that wanted to burry all those ugly stories we should have been bombarded by. Syria, isn’t about a vacuum: it’s about providing Obama and his people cover for the failures & scandals. The thing is that they need 3 1/2 more years of this shit till they can crown Hillary, and the people are going to catch on.

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  2. Hal_10000 *

    Well, yeah Alex, but any month where Obama looked bad was a slow news month, as far as the media is concerned. I expect the next three years to be really slow.

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  3. AlexInCT

    Well, yeah Alex, but any month where Obama looked bad was a slow news month, as far as the media is concerned.

    See that’s what pisses me off, Hal. This shouldn’t be about Obama looking bad or good. I tell you that if I found out republican were doing the shit these people are getting away with it and the media was not just ignoring that but going with bullshit to cover for them, that I would be pissed beyond belief. I have lost fate in our politicians, in both parties, as I see them all just growing the all mighty state at the expense of our freedoms and our future.

    Why can’t the media see that what’s going on, regardless of who is doing it, is fucking bad and we need to put an end to it? This shit is frightening.

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  4. ilovecress

    The media doesn’t want a political debate; they want an episode of The West Wing.

    Of course!!! And this is surprising to anyone? The media isn’t driven by a political agenda – it’s driven by an advertising dollars agenda.

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  5. Hal_10000 *

    As it turns out, he may get authorization from Congress. Pelosi, Boehner and Cantor are all on board. And Reid says he has the votes in the senate.

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  6. Section8

    As it turns out, he may get authorization from Congress. Pelosi, Boehner and Cantor are all on board. And Reid says he has the votes in the senate.

    Just sad. Boehner needs to go. I thought the GOP leadership would do something right this time, since it’s probably been a decade now since they’ve done anything of substance. You’d think the law of averages would work in their favor. It should be interesting to see how the media handles. I bet every bomb hits the target just perfectly.

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  7. Dave D

    The media doesn’t want a political debate; they want an episode of The West Wing.

    OMG, that is so true!!!!! My uber-liberal boss and his family used to sit down religiously and watch their “second favoirte show” (second to MASH, which I love) each week. The WW was TRUTHFULLY the liberal fantasyland that allowed them to survive during the evil Booosh years………

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  8. hist_ed

    My wife and I started West Wing on netflix about six months ago. First one to spot a gross factual error or completely implausible event gets a prize. We are a few seasons in but my favorite is probably a democratic president nominated a well known judge to the Supreme Court and was surprised that he was an originalist. I think its a good show but wow does the Hollywood liberal mindset show.

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  9. AlexInCT

    I think its a good show but wow does the Hollywood liberal mindset show.

    I only watched the first episode when it came out and immediately gave up on the show because it was not only so stupid I had to work too hard at it to waste a full hour of my time to watch it, but it left me feeling dirty. I don’t regret that decision at all based on what I kept hearing about the show.

    Liberals seem to be obsessed with the idea that somehow the best (liberal) presidents are brainy intellectuals, capable of feats that would astound Einstein, when nothing can be further from the truth. I have yet to see a liberal president that wasn’t a bumbling idiot, a used car salesman, or a combination of the two. Shit, Obama even had a cult like following to create the illusion he was a brainy superman, and now that we have seen him at work, not even the most deluded liberal can pretend he is anything but a bumbling, indecisive, idiot.

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