Media accountability

In 2008, the media largely put their fingers in their ears, closed their eyes and covered their mouths, choosing to ignore warning signs that perhaps the untested, unknown, inexperienced senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, was not quite ready for prime time, and not quite right for America — at least, not as the occupant of the White House. They played deaf, dumb and blind, but some might now have a regret or two, opting to put a toe in the water and experience what objective journalism feels like.

A September Gallup poll showed that 60 percent of Americans perceive a media bias, with 47 percent saying the media are too liberal and 13 percent saying they are too conservative, findings similar to the year before. 

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While we still have a long way to go before there is equitable media treatment across the board for Republicans compared to Democrats, a handful of noteworthy hiccups in the press lately give me hope — even if it’s temporary or false hope — that the media feel a sense of responsibility to actually do their jobs with at least a modicum of fairness and objectivity.

Or perhaps it just makes better business sense for ratings, driving eyeballs to a website, if they occasionally step up to that line of objectivity in order not to be completely written off by a public hungry for actual journalism.

The left-wing New York Times raised more than a few eyebrows last month when its ombudsman, Arthur S. Brisbane, urged his own paper to properly vet Barack Obama because it and virtually the entirety of the mainstream media had failed to do so in the 2008 campaign and beyond. Brisbane shares, “According to a study by the media scholars Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter, the Times’s coverage of the president’s first year in office was significantly more favorable than its first-year coverage of three predecessors who also brought a new party to power in the White House: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.”

NBC’s David Gregory on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” pressed Obama campaign surrogate and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on the campaign ad taking full credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden and claiming Mitt Romney would not have gone after him. Gregory compared it to the 2008 Hillary Clinton ad using the image of Osama bin Laden and reminded Gibbs that the Obama campaign criticized Clinton for it and claimed she had “invoked bin Laden in order to score political points.” The host then asked Gibbs if President Obama will “spend his time simply tearing down Gov. Romney as an alternative, or is he going to run on a big idea for his second term?”

Arianna Huffington, who created her own left-leaning media machine with the Huffington Post, stunned on CBS’s “This Morning” when she veered from the Democrat talking points to say that the Obama campaign using Osama bin Laden’s killing in a campaign ad and claiming Romney would not have gone after him “is one of the most despicable things you can do.”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank opined that this campaign maneuver made him “queasy.” He’s not alone.

I also couldn’t help but be impressed the other night when CNN’s Anderson Cooper tenaciously questioned Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.) on the ill-conceived claim by her party that the GOP had launched a “war on women.” She seemed genuinely surprised to actually have to defend her baseless charges. Cooper basically told her it was a bogus claim and that Democrats were playing politics. And he didn’t let her off the hook. She was wholly unprepared, and it showed. It would be good journalism, not to mention great theater, if every member of the media covering politics would make any Democrat mouthpiece charging “racism” or “GOP war on women!” actually have to back it up — particularly since it appears Democrats have greatly watered-down definitions of racism and sexism. Not supporting Obama makes one racist, apparently, and not wanting to force religious institutions to pay for someone’s birth control pills is now considered an act of “war.”

Yes, it’s a glimmer of hope. But it might be too much to expect the mainstream media to properly report on the Solyndra/Obama scandal, Fast and Furious, ObamaCare’s hidden political slush funds, bowing to environmental extremists (and billionaire Warren Buffett) on the Keystone pipeline and the host of other Obama scandals and failures.

Cheri Jacobus, president of Capitol Strategies PR, has worked on Capitol Hill, the RNC, and has managed congressional campaigns.