Election Day. In less than two hours, voters in my state will begin to vote. God willing, perhaps by midnight we will know who is going to lead our nation for the next four years. Of course, most Obama voters hope their guy wins the race - and that a Romney presidency would cause harm to the nation. Conversely, the Romney supporters rue what they believe to be a seriously failed presidency, and hope that their candidate gets the opportunity to right the ship.
Yet, no matter who wins, of this I am sure: the real disaster story of the past four years has been that serious journalism died.
By tomorrow night we’ll likely know the name of the next president. But we already know the loser in this election cycle: political reporters. They’ve disgraced themselves. Conservatives have long complained about liberal bias in the media, and with some justification. But it has finally reached the tipping point. Not in our lifetimes have so many in the press dropped the pretense of objectivity in order to help a political candidate. The media are rooting for Barack Obama. They’re not hiding it.
Consider Benghazi. An American consulate is destroyed and a US ambassador murdered at a time when the president is boasting at every campaign stop that he has crushed al-Qaida. In an effort not to disrupt this narrative, the White House and the Obama campaign spend weeks claiming the incident was merely a protest over a video, rather than a real terror attack. Then intelligence surfaces showing just the opposite: The killers in Benghazi were no street mob, and Obama knew as much from the beginning.
Imagine if George W. Bush, or even Bill Clinton, had tried something like this during a re-election campaign. The howls from journalists would have been deafening, and unceasing. Instead, Obama has enjoyed every benefit of every doubt from the press every step of the way. Candy Crowley even broke character in the middle of a presidential debate to defend him. From their retirement, former presidents must be looking on in envious bewilderment.
For Obama, treatment like this is standard. Remember his last press conference? On August 20, the president made a rare appearance in the White House briefing room. (Obama has held fewer press conferences even than George W. Bush.) The first question went to Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press. Here’s what Kuhnhenn asked, in full and unedited:
“Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for being here. You’re no doubt aware of the comments that the Missouri Senate candidate, Republican Todd Akin, made on rape and abortion. I wondered if you think those views represent the views of the Republican Party in general. They’ve been denounced by your own rival and other Republicans. Are they an outlier or are they representative?”
In other words: Just how horrible are your opponents? That’s not a question. That’s an assist.
Most telling of all, nobody in the press corps seemed to find Kuhnhenn’s suck-up remarkable, much less objectionable. Reporters who push Obama for actual answers, meanwhile, find themselves scorned by their peers — as we discovered the hard way when our White House reporter dared ask Obama an unapproved question during a presidential statement in the Rose Garden.
This utter lack of any connection to good journalism is really not related to left or right. Tim Russert was a liberal. But when you watched him grill politicians on Meet the Press, you had no idea whether he was a staunch conservative or a devoted liberal. Every guest was met with tough, incisive questions. And if they did not answer directly, Russert grilled them to do so - again and again.
You know. Like a fine reporter is supposed to do.
Why did journalism die in the last four years? Were the (mostly) liberal press so in love with the young, cool progressive black president that internally they felt compelled to protect and coddle every misstep?
My own sense is that, despite the constant liberal cry of "diversity" - the lack of ideological diversity for the most part in the press corps is that its members essentially fall prey to a sort of "group think." With few among them to challenge their gospel of belief in man made climate change, "rich people are selfish and nasty," racial affirmative action is necessary until the end of time - and all the other precepts - they don't even realize what they are doing. They have no clue that they are coddling politicians on one side and attacking those on the other, as they believe they are simply speaking "truth to power."
I like to think that ultimately this will turn around - no matter who wins the election today. Eventually, those who aim to change for the better get a chance to put their plans into place. And, when we find the new Tim Russert of the next generation, those who force feed good lines to politicians they like ultimately will go away.
In the meantime, however, so-called journalists have wounded a craft that provides a vital service to us all. It is desperately sad, and in my opinion - more damaging to our nation than all the Dodds-Frank, Obamacare, etc. laws that have been passed.