Skip to comments.Will the Media Carry Obama to Victory in November?
Posted on 04/29/2012 2:59:02 PM PDT by robowombat
Will the Media Carry Obama to Victory in November? SATURDAY, 28 APRIL 2012 08:28 ROGER ARONOFF
In a recent interview with Accuracy in Media, Richard Benedetto, a retired White House correspondent and columnist for USA Today, said that the media have been a huge factor in President Obama maintaining the job approval rating that is not at 50%, but just a little bit below. I think he works very hard at courting that, said Benedetto. He knows how the media cover him. He takes full advantage of it. He makes sure that hes out there all the timeand thats part of the game.
» If you like this article, please subscribe to Right Side News Daily Benedetto was part of the White House press corps from Presidents Reagan through George W. Bush, and covered every presidential campaign over that period since 1984, and every national political convention since 1972. He teaches courses on politics and elections at American University, and still writes commentary, most recently for Real Clear Politics, The Washington Times, and Politico. He is also the author of Politicians Are People, Too, which was published in 2006.
Benedetto describes the media today as being so far to the Left that if you just try to be fair, and say, to do a certain thing, Lets be fair, lets cover this fairly, or Lets analyze this objectively, you run the risk of being accused of being a Right-winger.
Regarding how the Obama administration deals with the press, he said, reporters who write tough stories are hit pretty hard by insiders in the administration. Therefore, they run the risk of being cut off. This is an administration that knows very well how to work the press, and reward those who they like by giving them leaks and inside informationnaturally, spun the way they want it to be spun in hopes of getting out the story out that they want to get out.
Richard Benedetto was also an eyewitness to the American Airlines plane that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and he described for us exactly what he saw and did that day.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Benedetto said that he doesnt believe that respect around the globe for America has increased under the Obama administration, and that support for the war in Afghanistan has dropped significantly during that period. He also believes that Obama has repeatedly divided the nation and helped create resentment between classes. Below are excerpts from the interview, which took place on April 12th. You can read the transcript or listen to the complete interview here.
BENEDETTO: [Writing for USA Today] requires you to get to the heart of the story fast. It puts a great premium on facts. It does not put a great premium on opinion, mainly because theres just no room for that kind of thing. What you have to do is give the people the straight story in a short amount of space. The notion that, somehow or other, people spend long periods of time reading long stories is just sort of false. So it was great training, because to become a better and tighter writerits much easier to write long than it is to write short, so it was terrific training.
BENEDETTO: [On September 11, 2001] I was driving into Washington along 395, which parallels the Pentagon, and as I was approaching the Pentagon and listening to the radio in my caralready the news was that New York City had been attacked with these airplanesI heard an airplane coming from my left shoulder, behind me, very loud and very low. I knew something was weird, because usually, if youre heading that way, if you see any airplanes, they would be going across your visionnot behind youbecause of the international airport, Reagan International Airport. I look up, I see this American Airlines plane just parallel to my car, about, oh, probably, 100, 150 feet above it. I shouted to myselfI was aloneThat planes going to crash! And, sure enough . . . . This appeared behind the bridge that I was headed for, and I saw the big puff of smoke, and the big fireball. I continued driving about 100 more feet, then pulled my car over to the side, got out, ran under the bridge, and headed over to the Pentagon.
BENEDETTO: There were a lot of stories that I hadnt told about politicians that really never got into the newspaperor, if they got into the paper, they got in as peripheral pieces, rather than as standard pieces. I thought that Id had some great experiences that I wanted to share. So, as I sat down to do that, I realized that I wasnt out to get anybody, I was out to just talk about the politicians Id met...As I wrote it, I didnt have a title in mind or anything, but as I wrote, I said, This book actually comes out as kind of a celebration of politicians!the human side of politiciansso thats how I came up with the title Politicians Are People, Too.
On Going Into Iraq
BENEDETTO: First of all...there is that feeling that, somehow or other, had the press been tougher, we might not have gone into Iraq. There is a myth out there that, somehow or other, the day after 9/11, we invaded Iraq. It was eighteen months afterone-and-a-half years after the 9/11 bombing came the invasion of Iraq. We debated this thing for eighteen months! Its out there. All you have to doand Ive assigned students to do this, because they have this same feelingis go out and find news articles that were written during the time that were questioning the wisdom of doing it! You know, theres no shortage of news articles being written, everywhere from The New York Times to Time magazine to USA Today, that questioned the wisdom of going into Iraq. I think Time magazine did a cover story, Eight Reasons Why We Should Not Invade Iraq. All you have to do is do the empirical research. It will show you plenty of news articles where the public never bought it. The public bought the idea of going into Iraq, it was like a snowball rolling downhillwhat you had going in the public psyche, at that particular time, was the need for some response, revenge.
ARONOFF: Now, when you left USA Todayand now you write columnsdare I say that your writings, and you, appear to lean to the right, politically? Is that true? Was it always true?
BENEDETTO: No. I think thatno. I think that whats happenedthings have gotten so distorted. In fact, the media seems to be so far to the Left that if you just try to be fair, and say, to do a certain thing, Lets be fair, lets cover this fairly, or Lets analyze this objectively, you run the risk of being accused of being a right-winger.
BENEDETTO: Because the conventional position is to the left. So if you sort of question that, then, somehow or other, youre seen as being a conservative. Youre seen as being a Republican. Youre seen as being a right-winger. Im only doing what I was taught to do, going all the way back to journalism school, and that is, give people good information, and let them figure out what to do with it. Im not there to proselytize anybody. Im there to give people the straight story. They can figure things out for themselves. What we think we need to do in the media today is, we need to tell people what to think. And thats not our job.
Obama and the Media
ARONOFF: One of your columns was Journalists Sob Stories Block Reform. It talked about the way they present it, that Republicans are trying to slash everything, and just starve kids and throw Granny over the cliffall that sort of thing. When you look at whats happening again with the Ryan budget, which, actually, continues to grow the budgettheyre talking about spending $40 trillion over the next ten years, and today were spending, I guess, $3.6 or $3.7 trillion a year, so its clearly an increasebut its treated as just these brutal, devastating cuts to everything. But you blame journalists to a large extent for the way this is presented to us.
BENEDETTO: We take whatever person or group that is opposing a particular cutthey will come to us, they automatically come to us with their story about what these cuts are going to mean to them, and they have every horror story from starving children to old people being thrown out in the street. The media will play those stories rather than give a solid analysis of the budget itself. Under those kinds of circumstances, with the media talking about all the devastation if budget cuts will occur, the public is basically torn. They say, We spend too much money, but then they see all these stories about all the bad effects.
The President himself has played right into ithe knows that the media will play that, and he uses that kind of rhetoric in defending his budget, and justifying calls for increases in taxes, by saying that if we dont do this, all these bad things are going to happen, that children wont get any care, and food programs for the poor will be devastatedall these kinds of things. Nobody says, Whats the real story here? Lets look at that budget. Lets look at this budget! Nobody does that.
ARONOFF: You wrote that Obama, Repeatedly divided the nation and helped create resentment between classes by asserting that those who depend on the federal government for support will suffer if the rich dont pay more taxes.
ARONOFF: So thats happening again right now, with this so-called Buffett Rule.
ARONOFF: How do you see that, the way thats being presented? Because Obama talked about how, if we do this, it would, Stabilize our debt and deficit for the next decade. But then Treasurys numbers came outshowing it would raise, at most, $5 billion a yearso this week they shifted to saying its a basic issue of tax fairness.
ARONOFF: Nothing to do with closing the deficit.
BENEDETTO: Thats exactly right. The press should be playing those points. Every administration, every President, every Governor, every elected official is out to put together his story. Its his story, and hes trying to put it out as best he can, to make himor herlook as good as she can make herselfthemselveslook. Our job is to say, Are they telling us the truth? Are they slanting the truth? Whats the real story here? Thats our job. Were not referees in a battle. Our job is to cut through the spin and give the people out there the full story, so that when somebody comes along, like the President, and talks about the Buffett Rule, the impression that he wants to createand that we in the media leaveis that, somehow or other, these millionaires are getting away with something. Are they, or are they not? That should be a story. What are they getting with? Are they getting away with it? Are they not paying their fair share of taxes? Well, if you look at where the revenue comes from, millionaires and billionaires, the people who are making the most money, pay the most taxes in this country. I think its something like the top 5% of wage earners pay something like 40% of the federal taxes. But thats not even part of the debate! Its not even part of the story! Our job, in the press, is to give the story context and perspective. And we just dont do it.
ARONOFF: Another column you had was titled Media Abet Obamas Aloofness on Tough Issues. You say Obamas ability to avoid tough questions, skate above the fray and look presidential while his potential successors appear to be futilely flailing is not by accident. It is by White House design, abetted by a press corps that seems content with being shut out by the president and being spoon-fed the message of the day, rather than clamoring for more chances to ask him questions during this critical time. Why is that? Is it access? Is it ideology? What?
BENEDETTO: From what I gatherIm not at the White House, but I do talk to White House reporters who are there, and some of the things I pick up are, first of all, theres a very tight ship there, and reporters who write tough stories are hit pretty hard by insiders in the administration. Therefore, they run the risk of being cut off. This is an administration that knows very well how to work the press, and reward those who they like by giving them leaks and inside informationnaturally, spun the way they want it to be spun in hopes of getting out the story out that they want to get out. The other thing is, I think theres just a general feeling among the White House press corps as a whole that they kind of like the Presidents policies, in their own way, and I think that is a factor in how they cover him. I think that back in the days when I was covering the George W. Bush administration, people in the White House press corps kind of liked George W. Bush as a personthey really didbut they didnt like his policies too much, and they covered him accordingly. They liked Bush, but they gave him tough press. They like Obama, I guess, although not as a person, from what I hearhes not very friendly to the press corps, from what I hear from people, I have no firsthand knowledge of that, but I do have secondhand, that hes not very friendly with the press corps that covers the White Housebut at the same time, they dont let that affect their coverage of him, in terms of the fact that the coverage, I think, coming directly out of the White House is pretty soft.
Coverage of Obamas Foreign Policy
ARONOFF: Obama foreign policy: Has the U.S. regained the supposed lack of respect around the world that he inherited? Does killing bin Laden make him a successful foreign policy President?
BENEDETTO: I dont know the answer to that question. I dont think hes increased our respect around the globecertainly not with those people who we consider our enemies in the Middle East. Im sure they dont have any more respect for us now than they had five years ago. But the fact is that he himself, personally, tries to stay out of direct foreign policy involvement as much as he possibly can. Afghanistan is my favorite example: He never, never, never talks about Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not going well. We know that. The American publica majority of the American publicnow thinks that being in Afghanistan is a mistake. That was not true when he first took office. But, on the other hand, its not seen. People dont even think of Obama and Afghanistan in the same breath. By design, he doesnt talk about it. When was the last time he gave a speech on Afghanistana direct speech where he went out and said, Im going to talk to the American people about whats going on in Afghanistan, and justify our position there? He hasnt. He hasnt done it. Because he doesnt want to.
ARONOFF: Its really even more cynical than that, because even most of his supporters believe that he doesnt really believe in the mission there, and everything appears to have been sort of structured around the 2012 election: The surge; the announcement, at the time the surge was announced, of when we would be withdrawing; the rules of engagementyou know, it feels like our troops are sitting ducks there. Three years ago, they were talking about only 100 al-Qaeda forces, and thats what we were there for, to root them out.
BENEDETTO: Mm-hmm. I just find it mind-boggling. We were so highly critical of George Bushs conduct of the Iraq war, butIm talking about the mediawere certainly not so critical of Obamas conduct of Afghanistan.
Working the Media
BENEDETTO: I think that the media have been a huge factor in President Obama maintaining the job approval rating that is not at 50%, but just a little bit below. I think he works very hard at courting that. He knows how the media cover him. He takes full advantage of it. He makes sure that hes out there all the timeand thats part of the game. As they say, 90% of the game is showing up, and the fact is, hes out there all the time. He works real hard at doing all kinds of things to keep himself in the public eye, so that the publicwhich is not paying that much attention to the actual substance of whats being said and talked aboutsays, Oh, hes working. Thats important. Thats a factor to people. If you ask what Obama said today, people wouldnt be able to tell you. But they would say, I saw him on TV, he said something, so he must be working! That works.
Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will the Media Carry Obama to Victory in November?
Well Willie Mitty is doing his very very best to aid the media in that direction...
Lots of ads full of easily reputed lies about his political past..
and laughingly gifts of soundbite bombs err blossoms for Obamas use...
The Democrat incumbant hasnt had it this easy since FDR ran...
MSM + Romney the Idiot = Obama Landslide.
Keep your eye on the Archbishop.
The thing is, unlike McCain who was just faking a campaign, it seems that Romney really does want to be president.
It will be interesting to see the Mormon machine vs the Chicago machine in full swing. Romney was ruthless with his GOP opponents.
Mitt CAN do it. Issue is, will he really try?
The bastards will move heaven and earth to bring this about. God Help the USA
The comments on this thread are really weird. The only other place I have seen such baseless arguments against Romney is Daily Kos and other leftist trash heaps.
FR must be infiltrated because these disgusting comments do not reflect the good conservative FR folks I have met at Tea party events.
IMO the media that have far more influence than the partisan MSM are the self-defined "apolitical," "non-partisan" mostly entertainment media.
Independents are the largest portion of voters, outnumbering either Democrats or Republicans. Depending upon the type they don't pay much attention to the MSM.
A "dealignment trend" has created what Russell Dalton calls the Apartisan American; to wit, the independent voter. The impact of apartisans is critical to the 2012 election and the future. Fine. But I am concerned about Dalton's fourth category.
Dalton id'd four categories. The first two have greater political savvy and "are best viewed as either cognitive partisans or apartisans, depending upon partisan attachments." I understand apartisan to mean that they pay attention but they do not ID with a political party.
A third category has lower interest and skills and is categorized as ritual partisans. That kind used to vote for everyone in the Party with just one mark. That's the way I interpret it.
Here's the "dummy" I am talking about. The apolitical independent.
The others will be too savvy to be swayed by "nonpartisan" media no matter how hard "nonpartisan" media try. They will have knowledge of the other issues vis-a-vis Obama and will not be controlled by the "nonpartisan" media.
No doubt in my mind that there are way more "nonpartisan" media that favor the Left than favor the Right.
The opinions about Obama, Democrats, and Republicans are mine.
The book is The Apartisan American: Dealignment and Changing Electoral Politics Russell J Dalton.
I guess I'm saying that if movies and TV shows can slip products like soft drinks into the picture and get paid for it.. it damn certain that Obama lovers slip dialog into the feature that honors PRESIDENT! Obama and belittles Obama's opponents.
How does the media Lie more than 101% ??
No. It'll be just like '08 with McRino pimping for Hussein.
True, but Romney is very small compared to the MSM and the Obama machine. Like ‘em or not (I was a big Santorum supporter), Santorum, Gingrich and the rest of the crew were as small potatoes to Romney as Romney is to Obama. In the GOP Primaries, Romney was the big fish in the small pond. In the General, Romney is barely a sardine.
Used car salesmen and 'the press' are trusted about equally... luckily their ears are made of tin - the New York Times - - clueless...
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