The state of the media’s crush on Obama: Still swooning

Noel Sheppard Contributor
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Within seconds of President Obama completing his State of the Union address to the nation Wednesday, America’s media were giving rave reviews for his performance.

The gushing began with “Hardball” host Chris Matthews who told fellow MSNBCers Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann, “You know, I forgot he was black tonight”:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know, I was trying to think about who he was tonight, and it’s interesting: He is post-racial by all appearances. You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he’s gone a long way to become a leader of this country and passed so much history in just a year or two. I mean, it’s something we don’t even think about. I was watching, I said, “Wait a minute. He’s an African-American guy in front of a bunch of other white people, and there he is, President of the United States, and we’ve completely forgotten that tonight. Completely forgotten it.”

I think it was in the scope of his discussion, it was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems and aspects, and aspects of American life that you don’t think in terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard, a very subtle fact. It’s so hard to even talk about it. Maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but I am. I thought it was profound that way. And, I think in terms of the seduction tonight.

Newsweek’s Howard Fineman a bit later told Olbermann during his “Countdown” program, “If presidential leadership were only about giving speeches, the jackhammers would already be at work on Mt. Rushmore:”

“In many, many ways, this is one of the most conservative speeches that a Democratic president has given since I think the middle of Bill Clinton’s time,” Fineman continued, apparently not realizing that Obama was the first Democrat to occupy the White House since Clinton left it in January 2001.

Yet Fineman wasn’t finished adding, “ I thought it was, it was very, very well done, and really left the Republican governor of Virginia very little to say. He didn’t have much to say to begin with.”

At virtually the same time over on ABC, Fineman’s editor Jon Meacham was chatting with George Stephanopoulos about how “Reaganesque” Obama was. As NewsBusters reported Thursday:

Stephanopoulos argued: “What I saw there is the President not being contrite like Bill Clinton in 1995, much more defiant, more like Ronald Reagan in 1983.” Meacham replied: “There was a lot of Reagan here.”

Fineman wasn’t the only journalist to show disrespect to the newly sworn in Gov. Bob McDonnell. As NewsBusters reported Thursday, NBC’s “Today” show chose not to even mention his televised response to Obama’s address.

But “Today’s” Meredith Vieira was willing to lend a hand to Vice President Joe Biden when he made a bit of a boo-boo on her program Thursday morning:

MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST: But there are fifteen million unemployed in America who were listening last night, many of them I’m sure wanting to know when they will find employment again. Based on what he said last night, what do you say to them?

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I say they’re going to start to see unemployment grow this spring…

VIEIRA: You mean employment.

BIDEN: …take, employment grow. I’m sorry.

Rounding out the raves was Washington Post television critic Tom Shales who wrote Thursday, “Obama does have the ability to snatch humility from the jaws of hubris. While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pontificated about how honored and thrilled she was to be able to introduce the great and wonderful man, the expression on Obama’s face, even the cock of his head, suggested he was basking and glowing in the praise.”

Shales concluded, “[T]hey could have had a live shot of purple people-eaters watching from Mars and not upstaged Obama. As a persuasive political speaker, he’s got no serious competition.”

For this “flowery praise,” Tim Graham, the Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center, commented, “What a fanboy.”

As demonstrated by the other reports concerning Wednesday’s State of the Union address, Shales wasn’t sitting by himself in the cheering section.

Noel Sheppard is the Associate Editor of the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback at nsheppard@newsbusters.org.