Libertarian editor Matt Welch, of Reason Magazine, writes an opinion piece on CNN.com that summarizes what we’ve all been wondering since the Palin email frenzy began … when is the press going to aggressively go after um, people who actually serve in elective office and have power over issues that affect everyone?
For instance, one might nominate the president of the United States for such attention. On Saturday, June 4, in his weekly radio address, Barack Obama did what he has consistently done since taking the oath of office: fudged reality to make his policies sound better.
In a premature victory lap over his controversial bailout of Detroit automakers, the president made the highly dubious assertion that not taking over Chrysler and General Motors would have “put a million people out of work,” a claim resting on the notion that “bankruptcy” equals “liquidation,” which it does not.
Glenn Kessler, who writes “The Fact Checker” blog for the Washington Post website, described Obama’s address as “one of the most misleading collections of assertions we have seen in a short presidential speech. Virtually every claim by the president regarding the auto industry needs an asterisk.”
A president misleading the public on one of his most crucial policies at a time when Americans are increasingly anxious about the economy sounds kind of newsworthy, no? Well, don’t tell the editors of the New York Times — they were too busy nailing down this important story:“Palin Says She Didn’t Err on Paul Revere.”
What’s particularly odd about the media’s disproportionate fascination with Sarah Palin is that it comes coupled with a palpable journalistic fear that we’re not challenging Sarah Palin enough.
Three weeks ago, the journalism navel-gazing community was abuzz over an academic study of more than 700 news articles and 20 network news segments from 2009 that addressed a single controversial claim of the health care reform debate.
Was it President Obama’s oft-repeated whopper that he was nobly pushing the reform rock up the hill despite the concentrated efforts of health care“special interests?” Was it his oft-repeated promise that “If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan,” something that is getting even less true by the minute? Was it the way Obama and the Democrats brazenly gamed and misrepresented the Congressional Budget Office’s price-tag scoring of the bill?
No. The cause for Obamacare-coverage reconsideration was not the truth-stretching claims made by a president seeking to radically reshape an important aspect of American life, but rather the Facebook commentary of … Sarah Palin. “In more than 60 percent of the cases,” the authors found, “it’s obvious that newspapers abstained from calling [Palin’s] death panels claim false.” Horrors.
There is no shortage of politicians deserving to have their e-mails combed through, no dearth of urgent stories that could benefit from the kind of journalistic enthusiasm we saw Friday afternoon.
Read the whole thing here.