By Benjamin Gaul
On October 27, 2011, former Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter wrote a column for Bloomberg News, headlined “Obama Miracle is White House Free of Scandal.” Alter began: “President Barack Obama goes into the 2012 [race] with a weak economy that may doom his reelection. But he has one asset that hasn’t received much attention: He’s honest.”
Alter went on to say “According to a metric created by political scientist Brendan Nyhan, Obama set a record earlier this month for most days without a scandal of any president since 1977.”
What he failed to mention was that Nyhan’s methodology insisted a president does not have a scandal until The Washington Post calls it a “scandal.” Seriously. The word “scandal” was the metric he measured.
Nyhan must believe that what is or is not a scandal can ONLY be determined by the Washington media elite. Congress can launch investigations, hold hearings or otherwise make real news, but if journalists refuse to call it a Scandal, then it simply cannot be one. This explains how Obama scandals never suffer the satire stream of late-night comedy shows, too: Comic writers aren’t known for
But scandal coverage has long been an “ideological thing.” The assertion that there are zero Obama scandals for journalists to cover, is self-deluded fiction. In the Bush years, the TV networks and national newspapers thought virtually everything President Bush did was a scandal: The Iraq war and the several spinoffs (Plame-gate, Abu Ghraib, using Afghan troops and so on) were all scandals. Hurricane Katrina was a scandal. The war on terror was a scandal. The detention and harsh interrogations of terror suspects at Guantanamo and monitoring phone conversations between terror suspects and their contacts abroad; Scandalous!
To study the media “miracle” of Obama’s scandal-free Presidency, let us analyze and review the coverage, or more precisely, the breathtaking LACK of coverage of just a few Obama (non)scandals and allegations, as (not)reported on the morning and evening news shows of ABC, CBS, and NBC:
Fast and Furious Gun-Walking Debacle: The Obama Justice Department’s “Operation Fast and Furious” encouraged American gun shops to sell weapons to Mexican drug cartels, which backfired as Mexican gangs shot and killed American Boarder Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. Many Mexican citizens were also killed with guns they allowed to “walk.” CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson filed 29 stories defining the scandal, but ABC and NBC stayed virtually silent for months. Even when Attorney General Eric Holder admitted he had misled Congress about when he learned of “Fast and Furious” they remained decidedly reticent. Only when Congress voted to hold Holder in contempt of Congress did they discover the story, and then it was dismissed by NBC as “vicious” and “another example of our broken politics.”
Solyndra and the Green Business Failures: In the first two months of 2002, the Big Three networks reported a non-stop 198 stories on the Enron bankruptcy, often tying the fiasco to President Bush. Since declaring bankruptcy on August 31, 2011, and despite a half-billion dollars in federal loans from the Energy Department through Obama donor connections, ABC, CBS, and NBC filed a grand total of 24 stories on Solyndra which barely ever connected it to Obama and his major campaign donor, who just HAPPENED to be the Solyndra Big Wig. Obama told ABC he had no regrets, and the promise of “green jobs” collapsed like the soap bubble it was.
MF Global Investor Swindle: An investment company run by former New Jersey Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine (a major Obama fundraiser) had declared bankruptcy on Halloween 2011. They admitted they’d lost more than a billion dollars of customer money, which was supposed to have been kept separate from any potentially risky investment schemes. This scandal garnered only six full stories and 16 briefs. Only once did NBC mentioned Corzine was a Democrat. Not one story even whispered any connection to Obama.
Gibson Guitar and the Wrong Wood: Some scandals are less weighty, but more interesting to viewers. Federal agents twice raided the plants of Gibson Guitar in Tennessee to investigate whether they improperly imported wood from Madagascar and India, but waited for almost a year before settling with the guitar maker for a $300,000 fine. No one found it newsworthy that Gibson’s CEO is a Republican donor, while other guitar makers who weren’t Republicans were not raided by the government over wood imports.
The Right Reverend Wright’s AmeriKKKa: After a long silence on the topic during the 2008 election cycle, and even after the inauguration, the networks pretended Obama’s hateful, ranting reverend of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright, didn’t exist. Network stories erupted in mid-May at the merest idea that Republicans might exploit Wright’s longstanding hate for “white America” in an ad. But the
networks offered nothing whatsoever on a quote in Ed Klein’s book The Amateur, where Reverend Wright claimed, in a taped interview, that Obama friends had offered the reverend money to keep his silence.
A recent survey by Gallup concluded that only 21 percent of those surveyed had confidence in television news. The nonpartisan Tyndall Report found that broadcast networks racked up 171 minutes of royal-wedding coverage and 111 minutes on the Michael Jackson wrongful-death trial, during the evening news in 2011. But of Obama’s many scandals – and any notion the media act as a watchdog or a check on government, were almost nonexistent.
None of this should really come as a surprise, when we consider all the other Miracles which are the touchstones of Obama’s life: Despite the purported lack of healthcare and the need for food-stamps his mother suffered, he went to one of the most exclusive private schools in Hawaii. While at Colombia University, young Obama managed to travel to Pakistan with friends, during a time when travel to Pakistan on an American visa was prohibited.
He became the First Student Ever to become President of the Harvard Law Review, without actually having to ever write a law review.
He was given a $100,000 advance to write a book on race relations, failed to write a page of it, and was then given $40,000 more which he used to write the first of his 2 autobiographies.
In 2004, Obama becomes a US Senator when his Republican opponent’s legally sealed divorce records are miraculously handed to the press.
As a US Senator, Obama writes zero bills, and votes “present” on every major piece of legislation he is present in chambers to vote on. This, coupled with his complete lack business or executive experience in any endeavor, public or private sector, is assumed to qualify him to be the leader of the free world.
Truly, a Miraculous President.