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Morning Fix: Blame the Media!

The printing presses are against President Obama -- or so his administration argues. Photo by Jennifer Domenick/FTWP

With the health care debate raging in Washington, President Obama of late has turned to a dependable bogeyman to rally the Democratic base behind his proposal: the media.

During his round of interviews last weekend, the president repeatedly hit the media -- while insisting that he was not bashing the media -- over how they have covered health care.

On "Meet the Press", Obama castigated "a 24-hour news cycle where what gets you on the news is controversy." On "This Week With George Stephanopoulos", he argued that "the media encourages some of the outliers in behavior, because, let's face it, the easiest way to get on television right now is to be really rude." And, on CNN's "State of the Union", Obama insisted: "If you're civil, and polite, and you're sensible, and you don't exaggerate the -- the bad things about your opponent . . . you're not going to be on the loop."

Then, earlier this week, Mitch Stewart the head of Organizing for America -- the grassroots arm of the Democratic National Committee -- sent out an e-mail to supporters entitled simply "The Media".

Wrote Stewart:

"Over the past few months, two things have become clear about the fight for health insurance reform: 1. Our opponents will create and spread outrageous lies to try to stop President Obama from creating real change. 2. We just can't count on the media to debunk them."

The antidote? A contribution to the DNC to step up education efforts that right the wrongs being put forward by the media. "Stepping in when the media fails is a daunting challenge -- but this community has already come together and accomplished feats no one thought were possible," wrote Stewart.

Bashing the media is a dependable and, to a point, effective strategy. Americans views of the press have grown increasingly dim in recent years as cutbacks and controversies have eroded the authority that newspapers and networks once enjoyed.

A recent Pew poll showed that less than three in ten people believe that the media generally gets the facts right while a stunning 63 percent said that press coverage is frequently inaccurate -- the lowest ebb for the media in more than two decades. (In order to preserve the Fix's delicate psyche, we are assuming we are not lumped into "the media." Right? Right?)

While hitting the media for its lack of accuracy and/or perceived bias can score points among either party's base, simply attacking the press is not, in and of itself, a message that appeals to the sort of political independents Obama and Democrats will need in 2010 and 2012.

One needs only look back to Sen. John McCain's (Ariz.) campaign for president last year for evidence. McCain and his running mate -- former governor Sarah Palin (Alaska) -- spent much of the summer and fall attacking the media for its alleged favoritism of Obama's campaign.

The Republican base reacted with ferocity and passion to this message but it was greeted with a shrug of the shoulders by Independents who opted for Obama by eight points, according to exit polling.

To pass health care, Obama absolutely needs an energized Democratic base. And, with the ongoing debate over the inclusion of a public option in the plan sapping some of that excitement from the base, pivoting to an attack on the media sound strategy to rally loyal Democrats.

But, in terms of winning the broader battle for public opinion on health care, simply bashing the media isn't enough. Obama must sell the positive impact his plan will have on Americans -- both those who don't have health care and, perhaps more importantly, those that do.

Friday's Fix Picks: We made it. Barely.

1. More middling poll numbers for the president.
2. . Bill Clinton (and his mojo) are back.
3. Meg Whitman doesn't like to vote much.
4. Democrats' fundraising slows.
5. Is "Capitalism" any good?

McCain To Headline Romney Fundraiser: In a sign that the 2008 campaign is water under the bridge, Arizona Sen. John McCain will host a fundraiser for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's Free and Strong America PAC next Wednesday at Chase Bank Field in Phoenix. McCain -- along with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) -- will co-host the event, which includes a VIP reception ($3,000 donation per person) and luncheon ($300 per person). Romney and McCain clashed repeatedly during the 2008 campaign and the Arizona Senator made little secret to mask his distaste for his most serious rival for the nomination. But, McCain's willingness to sign on for a fundraiser to collect cash for Romney's leadership PAC suggests the rivalry of 2008 is gone if not totally forgotten. That's a good thing for Romney as he prepares for his increasingly likely run for president in 2012.

The Goreacle Speaks!: Former vice president Al Gore, he of global warming prophet status, made an unusual foray into partisan politics on Thursday -- offering kind words for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who is up for reelection in November. Gore said Bloomberg has done a "spectacular job of providing leadership as the Mayor of the capital city of the world" and went on to lavish praise on the Mayor's commitment to environmental issues. In the none-too-happy camp is New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson, the Democratic nominee against Bloomberg who is running as an independent. Polling shows Bloomberg, a billionaire who is spending freely from his own pocket, with a comfortable double-digit lead over Thompson.

Snyder Gets Ford Endorsement: Businessman Rick Snyder won the endorsement of Bill Ford, the chairman of Ford Motor Company, in his bid for the Republican nomination in the Michigan governor's race. "I've never come out for anybody in this fashion, but you know there aren't many candidates that I have the confidence in like I do Rick and that's what prompted me to do this," said Ford in an interview with WJR's Paul W. Smith. The support of Ford, a titan of Michigan business, should give Snyder a boost of momentum for his candidacy and firm up his image as a outsider looking to bring business practices to the state's highest office. Snyder, a virtual unknown in the state, trails his higher profile rivals -- state Attorney General Mike Cox, Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard -- in polling in the GOP primary but his personal wealth (and how much of it he will spend) could even the playing field next year.

Click It!: An Elvis impersonator, an old guy in a cape and leotard and a man with a Ronald Reagan mask. This is Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman's first ad in the special election in New York's 23rd district. And, to be honest, it's pretty darn good.

McKenna's Running....for Governor: Former Illinois state Republican Party chairman Andy McKenna is running for governor -- just months after he bowed out of the U.S. Senate race in deference to Rep. Mark Kirk (R). McKenna also resigned his post as the chairman of the state party. "It's time to put our house in order," said McKenna in a statement announcing his intentions. He joins a crowded field that includes state Sens. Bill Brady, a candidate for governor in 2006, and Kirk Dillard. Gov. Pat Quinn, who replaced Rod Blagojevich earlier this year, faces state Comptroller Dan Hynes in the Feb. 2, 2010 Democratic primary. Despite Illinois' clear Democratic lean, national Republicans believe they have a chance at the seat due to lingering voter dissatisfaction with Blagojevich.

RIP Big Russ: Timothy Russert, father to Tim and grandfather to Luke, passed away on Thursday at the age of 85. "While he was affectionately known to the world as "Big Russ," he carried no more important nor meaningful titles than those of father, grandfather, great-grandfather, patriot and friend," said the family in a statement. "He passed peacefully with his family at his side from natural causes at the age of 85." Let us take this opportunity to pass along our condolences to the Russert family and remind anyone who hasn't read "Big Russ and Me" to do so immediately.

Chat with the Fix: If it's Friday, it's the Live Fix online chat! Starting at 11 a.m., we will spend an hour fielding your questions on the hottest political topics of the day (and what we are eating and drinking at whatever coffee shop we find to do the chat). You can submit your questions in advance or sign on at 11 and follow it in real time.

Say What?: "I would have beaten him like a rented mule." -- Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) joking, we think, about his chances of ousting New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I).

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 25, 2009; 6:02 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: The Live Fix!


Five lies in the first sentence alone.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 28, 2009 2:40 AM | Report abuse


I am not a Republican, racist, or offensive; I have never joked about Obama's assassination or anything "disgusting" like that. Since I didn't even post here until just now, so I was not the one who "really disrupt[ed] the conversation" on this thread. I certainly don't engage in prohibited name-calling. Perhaps it would be better if you went back to ignoring me?

Posted by: JakeD | September 28, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

I strongly agree that jaked's reference to G&T's dead father was far outside the pale of what should be acceptable. I have made mistakes myself, but nothing to that extreme. I've apologized for less.

Posted by: nodebris | September 27, 2009 2:10 AM | Report abuse

Zook is annoying and vapid, but he doesn't really disrupt the conversation.


He would if anyone read his posts but they're so childish and so over-the-top that nobody reads them. Same for armpeg.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 25, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

But it's truly disgusting that Chris C is ok with jaked saying the things he does.


My father died last December. A few days ago Jake, who apparently has been researching me, must have come across the funeral notice and poster malicious stuff defiling my father's memory. In my mind that's a whole order of magnitude more offensive than praying I die on the operating table or hoping Obama is assassinated.

And he's still here.

He's a *seriously* sick little creep, and Chris C lets him go on posting because it gives him hitcount.

Zouk got banned for doing the same thing he's doing now.

I really don't give a crap anymore, this place is going to the dogs with the two trolls filthing up every thread.

If I get banned and decide to come back it'll tame me seconds to come up with another proxy server. If Jake got banned, which is won't, he'd never get back, he doesn't have the technical skill.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 25, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

"CC: I think it's time to ban snowbama. His posts have become incredibly insulting and add nothing to the discussion."

I doubt it will happen. He's not the most offensive Republican by far. If jaked is free to run around here, then snow will be as well. I think the only reason he got banned in the first place was for berating Chris C for banning CF8.

But jaked should be the only one to go. My threshold for banning is pretty high, but outward racism and assassination jokes break that threshold. Zook is annoying and vapid, but he doesn't really disrupt the conversation.

But it's truly disgusting that Chris C is ok with jaked saying the things he does.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 25, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

the confused loon thinks building houses is pretty much the same as blowing them up.

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Get back to me when he "abandons" Israel to the tune of demanding the settlements stop. Anything less and you're just blowing smoke.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 25, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Since Obama took office, he has been abandoning one US ally after another while seeking to curry favor with one US adversary after another. At every turn, America's allies - from Israel to Honduras, to Columbia, South Korea and Japan, to Poland and the Czech Republic - have reacted with disbelief and horror to his treachery. And at every turn, America's adversaries - from Iran to Venezuela to North Korea and Russia - have responded with derision and contempt to his seemingly obsessive attempts to appease them.

something about chix coming home to roost springs to mind

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

CC: I think it's time to ban snowbama. His posts have become incredibly insulting and add nothing to the discussion.


He'll just come back, but it'll take him a while because hospital staff lock down the machines, and he won't be able to create another email account without their permission.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 25, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Case in point, right here in this column.

Town hall screamers "suggest" there is real grass-roots misgivings about Obama's healthcare.

"Republican resurgence" based on statistically insignificant drifts in polling in adjacent weeks.

"GOP saviors" like Romney, Pawlenty, Daniels (!) and Barbour.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 25, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Tourrette's says what?

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 25, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

CC - they're liberals. there must be someone to blame.

Present ident thin-skinned can't imagine why anyone would ever take issue with his good nature and honesty.

Except he got a good lesson today from Iran. Oh Dear, why do they hate us so?

Haters need no reason, in fact, it is as far from reason as you can get.

Just take a look at the loons on this page. they live to hate. no reason needed. Blame bush.

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

and the descent into the sewage begins.

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

reason5, pls email me at


If he hasn't emailed you yet after dozens of entreaties then he's never going to. Move on.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 25, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

reason5 writes
"T-Paw is a fiscal conservative in the mold of McCain."

He is not. Pawlenty is a fiscal conservative in the mold of Grover Norquist. Sen McCain is a bit more sensible than that. Pawlenty has been a fiscal disaster for MN: cut revenue, raise spending and leave the problem for the next Gov to cleanup:

Posted by: bsimon1 | September 25, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Ok, ok. So the media feels a little vulnerable since they have been called out for transforming the news into an entertainment industry.

You can be entertaining, but stop pushing stories that have no merit.

When insane diatribe rules the pages and cameras of our national media for months on end, its no wonder that the average American no longer trusts the media to give them the facts and nothing more.

Come on now! Did we REALLY have to listen to stories about the nut-job birthers for 8 months? Why, if the situation is an outright farce, do you spend so much time discussing it on your pages? You deserve a lot of the flak coming your way. I'm not saying its not all the media's fault - but take credit where credit is due.

Posted by: trident420 | September 25, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The Fix, in support of his allegation that the President is on a 'blame the media' mission, wrote
"On "This Week With George Stephanopoulos", he argued that "the media encourages some of the outliers in behavior, because, let's face it, the easiest way to get on television right now is to be really rude." "

But the back-and-forth between the President and Stephanopolous began:

"STEPHANOPOLOUS: Let me ask you about the broader debate around this "

It was after several paragraphs of discussion on other aspects of the debate that the President made the point emphasized by The Fix.

Helpfully, The Fix also quoted Mitch Stewart, who says "We just can't count on the media to debunk them."

Perhaps, rather than getting all defensive about whether the President is blaming the media, the media should start doing their jobs and reporting facts.

Posted by: bsimon1 | September 25, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone heard anyone from NPR say the word "TORTURE" instead of "enhanced interrogation techniques" or "harsh interrogation tactics" or some such? No?

I contacted Alicia Shepard at NPR recently, suggesting that this practice constitutes biased reporting via using distorting language or perhaps more accurately actually lying. She did not act to forward my complaint. Instead, she suggested that opinions differ and that I should have respect for "the other side."

Torture. If they do it, it seems, it is just torture...but somehow if we do it, it falls a bit short? Ms Shepard's fanciful "argument," to the over 400 of us objecting to her about this abuse, seemed to rest on the strength of its being necessary or at least useful for the nation's defense. This speaks not at all to the accuracy of the language being used.

Whether or not it was a useful practice (the Nazis in World War II clearly thought it was), torture isn't hard to identify. Despite the many clever minds that have been turned to making it unclear, in most places around this planet people very easily identify the practices I refer to as being torture.

Any suggestion as to why "the media" won't so identify them with regard to our own government?

Posted by: terrybakee | September 25, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Re: Media Bias
Sacred Heart University released a nationwide poll that read "Poll results found 83.6% saw national news media organizations as very or somewhat biased while just 14.1% viewed them as somewhat unbiased or not at all biased. Some, 2.4%, were unsure."

Further: "A large majority, 89.3%, suggested the national media played a very or somewhat strong role in helping to elect President Obama. Just 10.0% suggested the national media played little or no role. Further, 69.9% agreed the national news media are intent on promoting the Obama presidency while 26.5% disagreed. Some, 3.6% were unsure."

Interesting that this poll also found that Fox was both the most trusted and least trusted. Seems about right to me.

Posted by: annetta3 | September 25, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse


Re: Meg Whitman article.

This is but the first trickle of a torrent. As a Repub., Whitman already has two strikes against her in CA;

While essential to a successful campaign, money alone rarely trumps experience or charisma--ask Michael Huffington!

Posted by: sverigegrabb | September 25, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama, liberals defending certifiable loon in Honduras
Ethel C. Fenig
When all about is going wrong, who do the hate filled classically blame?

The Jews, of course.

Joining the "Blame the Jews/Israelis" jackals -- Moamar Ghadafi of Libya and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, long time members of the club, recently renewed their bona fides at the UN - is ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya. Removed from office and expelled from the country because he insisted on illegally staying on, he snuck back in and has taken refuge in the Brazilian Embassy, diplomatically out of bounds to Honduras police.

But he still doesn't feel safe. Why not? Speaking to Frances Robles of the Miami Herald , Zelaya

""claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and "Israeli mercenaries'' are torturing him with high-frequency radiation. "We are being threatened with death,'' he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.""

With that rhetoric, an invitation to speak at the U.N. is sure to come. Or maybe an offer of even more aid from President Barack Obama (D) and his Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton to continue his illegal quest for returning as president of Honduras.

OMG: Scrivener is the ex-president of Honduras

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Jerusalem - A cloud of pessimism is suffocating hopes that U.S. President Barack Obama can pull off a miracle in the Middle East by setting negotiations on course for rapid progress towards a comprehensive peace agreement. The New York encounter he arranged between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas this week produced no more than a schedule of lower-level meetings this week and next


0bama's closest advisers are going to be bragging about another 0bama foreign policy ''success'' while they decide exactly whom to blame for the coming nothingness. Hint: what is acceptable in the rest of the world suits 0bama, to blame those they always blame for everything.

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

the legacy of liberalism.

spend, spend, spend some more.

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Its hard to know where to look for news you can trust but lets face it--the news 'media' is the only source 99.9% of us have for getting news. We have to pick and choose. Programs that present the news with little fanfare and sensationalism might be offering more reliable news. Consult your newspapers, mainstream wire services, TV and radio news shows that are not 'talk' or 'call-in' shows, investigative reporting etc. Use your knowledge of local politics which is a microcosm of national politics to try and figure out what is at least somewhat credible and what is not. Not really much for the average citizen to go on is it? And besides we have to work hard to find it.

Posted by: rawreid | September 25, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Would the country be as aware of the following if not for an extremist government in power in Washington? Acorn and the "community organizer" groups have been revealed to be nothing more than corrupt partisan hacks exploiting the poor and the taxpayers. The unions and their leaders exposed as power hungry ideologues with no interest in the long term well-being of their members. The mainstream media's willingness to lose all credibility with the vast majority of the public with its not so subtle cheerleading for their preferred politician has become obvious to all. The Democratic Party, at one time the self-declared defender of the little guy, has openly declared war on small business and capitalism. The Democratic members of Congress have been revealed to be indifferent to the voters, incapable of reading bills and fully in the pockets of liberal special interests groups

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I subscribe to the "Economist", read "Great Decisions" from the Foreign Policy Association, read WaPo and NYT online, read the "Austin American-Statesman", listen to NPR, and watch Lehrer. Some days I get to read the "Houston Chronicle" or the DaMN. I never watch 24/7 cable unless I am on the treadmill at the Y.

I am 66 and work only 35 hours/wk, down from 60 hours/wk when I was not "semi-retired". My beautiful and brilliant wife is a CPA who still works those 60 hour [and more] weeks. She catches snippets late at night on 24/7 cable and asks me questions filled with foreboding about supposed imminent cataclysms that seem only dimly related to what I have heard or read, and that change daily.

My anecdotal second hand impression is that 24/7 cable news is a mixed blessing at best, and a disaster area, at worst. I am pretty satisfied with my own sources, but do not get enough sci-tech news from them. I intend to add a sci-tech source back into my reading.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 25, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse


Your comment helped me, thanks. It's nice to read ideas for solutions. I enjoy Lehrer as well but, shy away from articles in the WAPO and NYT opinion pieces except for Thomas Friedman at times and David Brooks at times. If you come across this response, I'd be interested in any journalists you recommend as well. David Iglatius of WAPO is someone I read as well.

Posted by: OK4obama | September 25, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

the most consistent complaint about any criticism of Barack Obama is, 'Where were you when George W. Bush did.....?'


Absolutely no credible justification is offered concerning what the current President is doing or not doing, other than, 'But George Bush did thus and so.' It's interesting that this very same tired, old, ineffectual mantra is the one that Obama himself uses as an excuse for whatever failures he has accumulated.

He has taught his disciples very well.

The problem is, the mantra doesn't cut it....not in any way, shape, form, or fashion. It is nothing more than a ploy to take the attention away from the mammoth failures and ineptitude of the current Administration and shift blame to someone in the past.

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Jay Leno: They said this one blonde
was especially suggestive and kept rubbing up
against the president. Finally, Michelle said,
'Look, Chris Matthews, get away from my husband.'

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Another practice which is gaining steam is writing inflammatory headlines with a ? at the end or put a quotation from some person. Like,
-Is Obama caving to Russia? or

-"Healthcare Reform will create death panels"
Then the first line is 'Sarah Palin, an unemployed woman in Alaska, says that healthcare reform will create death panel.'

Posted by: AndyR3 | September 25, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Things are looking up for Americans and down for turds like snobama and the rest of the "Fail, America" brigade of rightwingnut droolers.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 25, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

snowbama must want to get banned. He's like a little kid crying for attention. What a pathetic turd.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 25, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

The media is indeed doing a dreadful job reporting on health care and almost every other issue.

First, they report the debate rather than the topic of the debate. The argument itself is more important than who is right or wrong. Any debate -- even an insane one -- is news.

Second, outlets that make a pretense towards being neutral (i.e., not Fox News) use that as an excuse to publish voices under their mastheads that are grossly inaccurate or even simply lying. Since this is "opinion," it is considered immune from fact-checking -- and even healthy since it presents a different "angle."

The net result is that known untruths dominate the news cycle. The truth is just an interesting "angle" on the news buried somewhere on page A7 or in an offhand comment. Even when there is little debate about the truth, the debate is aggressively reported, and the lies dominate.

Listening to the media is like being trapped in a lunatic's skull, beset by a jumbled and incoherent mass of fantasies and phantasmagoria.

Posted by: nodebris | September 25, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, yes, it used to be about headlines selling newspapers, and now it is all about sounds bites keeping the fixation of a nation that would rather see controversy and scandal than facts which, they themselves ought to be weighing in order to formulate their own pooinion.

Where has that left society?

It has left us incapable of making determinations outside of the way we identify on an emotional level with which ever person is depicted in the sound bite.

If we are angry, we will identify and agree with Joe Wilson and if we are indignant we will identify and agree with Nancy Pelosi.

I would be great if the media were not dependent upon ratings and commercial sales leaving them to return to sound journalistic principles. . . or at lease then they could stop inventing the news and just report on it.

Posted by: LeftRightFulcrum | September 25, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

chicago11, I think you have hit on the first problem with much of the media - lack of professionalism. I watched and heard Lehrer give a commencement address at OU in Norman in 1996 that made three points in detail and he included yours. He gave other examples. He said that as late as 1981 the NYT triple sourced every story. It has not done so since the rise of cable news because cable news single sources and gets to "bed" so much faster that the NYT is at a competitive disadvantage. He said that the rise of CNN also directly led to the downgrading of the accuracy of network news, for the same reason. He said that the local news mantra that the worst collision draws the viewers dominates national TV media now so that we are likely to see a grisly crime of truly mere local significance hyped into a national news story for weeks on end. He compared what "Time" and "Newsweek" had become by 1996 to what they were in 1966 and found them third rate. He said that he could continue to tell story after story about the decline, but it would do little good until the American people demanded caution in reporting and thoroughness of investigation rather than entertainment and gossip. As to your exact point, he said the competitive time constraints worked against the value of even the most competent reporting of difficult issues.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 25, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Of course the problem with the news business is that its purpose is not to report the news. It is to gain readers/viewers and make a profit.

Posted by: MichaelE1976 | September 25, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Politicians, Used-car salesmen, trial lawyers, journalists

what do they have in common?

they are all liars.

they are liberals.

they want to control you and spend your money.

they are not highly regarded by "real" people, deservedly so.

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The lower obimbo sinks, the louder the loons become.
CC: I think it's time to ban snowbama. His posts have become incredibly insulting and add nothing to the discussion.

Posted by: koolkat_1960

the wimps call for mommy. I wonder if anyone was ever afraid of a marshmellow?

""President Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Britain said Friday that the existence of a previously secret Iranian nuclear facility ups the ante on Tehran in international talks next week"'

Looks like NOT.

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The media is a problem and it doesn't have to do with conserative or liberal bents. It's a matter of reporters not having a grasp of the issues. There are facts and there is nuance. So many issues -- not the least of which is health care, are so tremendously complicated that the story can't be responsibly reduced to he said-she said sound bytes. Further the lack of knowledge amongst reporters is occasionally breath-taking. Quick-tell us the difference between Medicaid and Medicare should never be a trick question but it was on MSNBC. The Huffington Post was breathlessly yelling about "USDA Sub-prime Housing"- cute but stupid considering the story was full of factual errors and made totally unwarranted assumptions that could be dis-spelled with one Google search on the site.

Posted by: chicago11 | September 25, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

reason5, pls email me at

Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 25, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

People spend a lot of time bashing the media for not living up to their standards, but they don't put a lot of thought into why that's happening. They complain about all kinds of media bias, but never take a second to wonder what motivation the media would have for being biased against them. They go to every length to criticize and withhold their support from the media, then wonder why their work isn't getting any better.

As AndyR3 noted, good journalism is not profitable right now. Decades of anti-media campaigns from both ends of the political spectrum have given Americans a mentality that they shouldn't ever have to hear anything they don't want to hear, and if they do, it's not a possibility that they might be wrong; it just means the media is biased. Now, with political Web sites not dependent on paying for employees, paper or ink supplanting traditional media, Americans don't have to hear anything they don't want to hear. Anytime they chance hearing about something they don't like, they can hear about it through a filter.

When they aren't complaining that the media is biased against them, people also like to complain that the media focuses too much on sensationalism. And they're right, it does. When President Obama says that being rude and disruptive will garner you news coverage, he's 100 percent correct. But that's what gets rating. For all the kvetching people do about rudeness and negativity, that's what gets their attention. Why do you suppose negative campaign ads are so effective?

A lot of people look at the media as a monster and don't understand that they helped create it. And they don't understand that if they ever expect the media to get better, they're going to have to show the media some support.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | September 25, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

CC writes " (In order to preserve the Fix's delicate psyche, we are assuming we are not lumped into "the media." Right? Right?)"

If you don't want to lumped in with 'the media' and would rather be lumped in with 'Journalists' then you should quit going on Hardball. Chris Matthews does not report the news he reports opinions and doesn't allow people to talk long enough to question his opinions.

Stick to Meet the Press only since I feel it is one of the only major station programs that reports balanced news on TV.

Posted by: AndyR3 | September 25, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

CC: I think it's time to ban snowbama. His posts have become incredibly insulting and add nothing to the discussion.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 25, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.
- Flannery O'Connor
The President does not have to bash the media. It does a good enough job itself. This is why so few people actually believe what they read or hear in the media, unless it confirms what they already believed to be true. While everything the President said about the media is correct, you are also correct in that it does nothing to help attain health care reform. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as unbiased news, and I suspect there never has been. The American people are lost in the woods of news reporting, and instinctively center themselves on their own prejudices and self interest. Why is anyone surprised that we live in a polarized society?

Posted by: MichaelE1976 | September 25, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The lower obimbo sinks, the louder the loons become.

Cc. Somehow your blog has become the residence of all sorts of loud, irrationAl lefties. They make no sense, they insult and they are true beleivers, that is, kook aid drinkers.

Fine for them but we don't want to go. We think.

Posted by: snowbama | September 25, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I would expect excuse making from Cilliza - media talking heads like him have zero ability to look at themselves and their conduct in the major issues of the day.

Posted by: LABC | September 25, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

"Over the past few months, two things have become clear about the fight for health insurance reform: 1. Our opponents will create and spread outrageous lies to try to stop President Obama from creating real change. 2. We just can't count on the media to debunk them."

So, it was okay when the media enjoyed ripping Sarah Palin in 2008. But now that they enjoy ripping Obama and his health care plan, it's not okay any longer. What's good for one is good for the next. The media is good for 1 thing...getting the best story they think will get the best ratings. No, Obama can't depend on the media to debunk lies. Now that Obama is President, the honeymoon is over and he's no longer a media darling. They have turned on him like the rabbied dogs they are. As if though he didn't see it coming? Ha, what a laugh!

McCain would likely raise money for any major Republican having a fundraiser in Phoenix. Not a surprise. Kyl is there as well, so that leaves both of Arizona's US Senators. They need money as well, and Kyl is up in 2012. He don't want to cause any major Republican not to want to raise funds for him.

Prediction time: McCain will not endorse Romney in 2012. I think McCain will endorse Minn. Governor Tim Pawlenty...even if Sarah Palin runs. Pawlenty served on McCain's team in the Republican primary, which he won. T-Paw is a fiscal conservative in the mold of McCain. McCain will raise money for everyone from now til 2011, then he will likely choose sides in 2011.

Bill Ford coming out in favor of Rick Snyder is a huge endorsement for his campaign. Snyder is independently wealthy with the ability to self fund his campaign, has great business friends who can help him raise tons of money and the endorsement of a Ford endorsement could help him win support of independents & even democrats involved with the auto unions who work with Ford. US Rep. Pete Hoekstra has alot going for him in his Washington contacts and ability to raise money there. Attorney General Mike Cox is a proven vote getter, winning a 2nd term as the state AG. He has made many people angry though, and I'm not certain of his fundraising capabilities. Mike Bouchard should have the endorsement of the Club for Growth & dedicated fiscal conservatives. It will be a heck of a primary.

So in Illinois, McKenna and Kirk will end up running on the same ticket side by side. I think they got a great shot to win the US Senate & governors seat. Illinois could go Republican in 2010, as odd as it sounds. I'd say McKenna sits in a strong spot for Governor. Mark vs. Alexi is a toss up.

Good stories there, CC.

Posted by: reason5 | September 25, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

The Media is not a watchdog; it is a business. And these days that business makes a profit by showing freak shows and people screaming and yelling at one another. Don't pretent to be important servants of democracy - you're just shills for your bosses and their shareholders.

Posted by: gmcduluth | September 25, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

The current media situation in this country is akin to the Tower of Babel story in the Bible. There does not seem to be an objective source for information unless it is NPR. It is especially difficult for this country to accomplish change because the media goes out of its way to find critics for any policy proposal that is made. The United States used to lead the world in many areas. Now we just argue and don't do much.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | September 25, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Cilliza:

The subtext of your column is that the Media IS doing a good job. The Media is splintered into FoxNews and its Right Wing Echo Chamber and the MainStreamMedia with its, "Every side deserves to be heard and respected, both those who think Obama is a Communist/Socialist /Nazi/Kenyan-born Radical who wants to seize power, raise a private army, kill old people and the Democrats."

Should we assume that you think the 24-hour news cycle has elevated discourse? Should we assume that the "Independent voters" matter the most?

I know you publish a lot so you do not have time to think, analyze, or follow-through on anything, but what is the matter with you that you cannot see how the current system is destroying our ability to argue and agree?

Do you really think the Media is doing a good job?

Posted by: wapoisrightwingrag | September 25, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

DDAWD, what we do is try to find a way to undo much of the consolidation of radio, television and print news that has taken place in the last generation. That has done more harm to the watchdog role that the media likes to pretend it has than any other single event. People also need to write to papers, stations and forums like this to inform people of facts that are omitted from stories. This makes the job of the average person much hard because that means that he or she has to think. Consider it the price for living in a complicated world. (And I know that DDAWD and a number of others on this board already do this.)

Posted by: trep1 | September 25, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I know that Republicans think that the media gave Obama the presidency so they are amused by his critiquing them now. The media did a bad job of covering the issues then and then as now focused on the nonessential because their business model depends on that.That should not overshadow the fact that Obama is correct about the media.

Twenty four hour news is the last place to look for anything other than entertainment.

Posted by: Gator-ron | September 25, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I guess the real question is what we can do about it. For the past several years we hear about how the media has failed us. They didn't investigate during the runup to the Iraq War. They perpetuated the Swift Boat nonsense, they parrot all the Drudge and Limbaugh nonsense. And how much airtime has Orly Tate gotten?

This isn't going to change. The press will feign introspection from time to time, but will go back to the same nonsense. (although the latest missing girl drama didn't involve a blonde white girl, so I guess that's progress?)

So what do we do?

Posted by: DDAWD | September 25, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse


From this corner, spoken by someone who's worked all corners of mainstream media, it seems laughable that President Obama would criticize a largely unskeptical and compliant print and electronic press. I exclude the Fox News Network, which is neither "mainstream" nor "media" but a propaganda outlet for the hard right, in my view.

Obama's policy vacillations and his retreat from key campaign promises regarding civil and human rights and ongoing Bush-era policies invoked in the name of national security offer a more plausible explanation for the erosion of POTUS' support on key issues, health care included. (Where DOES he stand on the public option?)

It is not too late for the President to again become a "change agent" by demonstrating his commitment to the restoration of the rule of law in America -- starting HERE:


• When will Congress demand an investigation into America's "Silent Holocaust"?

A federal-local multi-agency coordinated action program -- an ongoing legacy of the Bush-Cheney years -- is committing a quiet genocide on thousands of unjustly targeted Americans via microwave/laser weaponry; covert financial exploitation; and a grassroots vigilante army fronted by community policing, town watch and anti-terrorism units who use covertly placed warrantless GPS devices, and cell phones, to stalk their targets -- protected by federal and local law enforcement who know all about it... American Gestapo hiding in plain sight, unreported by a complacent mainstream media, unaddressed by naive and apparently misinformed Obama officials. OR (if link is corrupted / disabled): RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | September 25, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Too funny to hear Obama bashing the media when it was the media that got him elected President. Almost as funny as listening to Obama blame Bush for the state of economy and moan and groan about what a lousy situation he inherited when he wouldn't have been elected President if the economy wasn't in the toilet.

Posted by: RobT1 | September 25, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

If Obama looses on health care which I think is unlikely then the majority of the country looses out as well including the employers who furnish health care to their employers. The financial well being of this country depends on being able to compete in the future with other developed countries as our global dominance eases.

The stakes are high. The media in general treats the issue as a horse race in which the country will be unaffected by the outcome.

Posted by: Gator-ron | September 25, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

You know, you don't really have to be all that perceptive to pick up on the fact that the media seem to prefer republicans. This blog is an example. You actually would not know that the democrats are in charge. Every interview, every piece of campaign and election news fundrasing events and the like seems to center on what the republicans are doing to take back the Congress.

Quite frankly I believe the media want divided government because they hunger for drama and conflict. But even now wioth the democrats in charge, look who gets all the media interviews and attention--it is all GOP all the time. You never see or hear from the democratic leadership unless they say something weird or controversial that can be turned to the GOP's advantage.

Take the recent Health Care bill markup. Look who got the media's attention--a blusering, arrogant swaggering Jon Kyl and a cynical manipulative GOP trying to drown reform in a tsunami of amendments all to the marvel and adulation of the mainstream media.

This is why no matter what Obama tries to do. America will never recapture her greatness.

Posted by: jaxas | September 25, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Quite honestly, I haven't a clue as to what carps like Limbaugh and Beck would actually do if they were by some cruel trick of fate handed the reins of the US Government as President and Vice President (Pick any combination. It really doesn't matter).

I suspect that they would completely dismantle the federal government from what little gibberish they utter can be comprehended. Social Security? Pffffft! Gone. Education assistance? Pfffft! Gone. Environmental protection? No way! Whack! Gone. The IRS? Outta here! Don't needed because we son't need the income tax. No health programs whatsoever! No investments in science, agriculture, infrastructure. The free market will somehow magically intuit what the country needs to remain strong and viable. Defense spending and warmaking? Now you're talking. Quadruple immediately, attack Iran, North Korea, Syria and Libya, build a ring of offensive star wars missile systems around the entire Asian Continent to keep those Ruskies and Yellow Hordes in check.

It would be paradise on earth. For right wing whack jobs.

Posted by: jaxas | September 25, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

The media is a problem. It has been since they shed the responsibility of informing the public in favor of the goal of maximizing profits.

I have heard the media defend itself by saying that they are being bashed does not address the problem that celebrity trumps professional competence in the modern media. Most of its practitioners are simply reflections of their boss's desire for profits. Their bosses have no journalistic interests only that of competing for the media dollar.

Journalism is time consuming and inefficient and does not fit in with the profit motive. Sorry Chris, but journalism just like medicine has been subjugated to the profit quest and in both cases it is difficult to find a quality practitioner.

Posted by: Gator-ron | September 25, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

One thing the press needs to do is stop this kneejerk reaction to everything Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh say. They are like spoiled brats craving attention from their parents by throwing tantrums and squesling at the top of their lungs. Both Beck and Limbaugh cynically calculate that they can increase their ratings by hurling out the most slanderous, shocking epitets knowing that this ratings hungry media trying to outcompete Fox News will pick it up as some weird sort of "balance" to what Obama and the democrats are doing.

I caught a glimpse of Limbaugh on Jay Leno last night and quickly tured back to The Mentalist on CBS. Somehow, the incredible mind tricking abilities displayed on that program seem more credible than anything this fat, ugly bloat has to say.

I don't know what Leno was thinking. Limbaugh is not an entertainer. He is not a comedian. He is not in the least funny in what he says on his rotten, squalid program. But he sure has the mainstream media flummoxed into believing that his millions of devoted fiollowers listen to him because he is funny and entertaining. They listen to him because he validates their worst bigotries and justifies their fundamentalist ignorance.

Posted by: jaxas | September 25, 2009 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I find it laughable that there are serious people who try to make the liberal media the bad guy. Conservatives have legitimate complaints and it's hard to argue otherwise.

Sign up at to join the movement.

Posted by: HandsOffAmericanet | September 25, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

As I said yesterday the NY-23rd race is going to be a fight for the heart and soul of the republican party and the mantle of conservativism. If Hoffman's ad works expect to see something just like it used against folks like Ingles in SC, and other Republicans who the far-right think are RINOs.
I still think if Hoffman splits the right vote (which he very well may). Then the Democrat Owens will win and it will be a very very bad sign for the health of the GOP.

Posted by: AndyR3 | September 25, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

What Obama wanted to say was that the profit-driven media corporate machine isn't doing its job. Journalism is not dead in this country its just not very profitable right now. That is why NPR and the last few true paper news sources (ie NYT, Post, WSJ, LA times etc) are so important. Which is why you should support your local NPR station. They may be the last true source of indepth investigative journalism in the country before too long.

Posted by: AndyR3 | September 25, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

It's laughable that you ignore the media's role in the discourse of American politics. You're not just at fault for the health care debate, you are the primary reason for friction within American society for the last 100 years. Media is no "watchdog" as you self-rightiously proclaim, its a BUSINESS. Since when has truth, objectivity and rational analysis ever ranked higher than PROFIT? Get over yourself, start by admitting the truth.

Posted by: DPoniatowski | September 25, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Well, we have Shep Smith quite literally saying that if there is shouting at any town hall, then FOX News will be there to air it.

But perhaps the most striking to me is that the President of the United States needs to take time out to explain to people that there are no death panels. These myths don't just perpetuate themselves.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 25, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

The media dutifully reported the honeymoon period, but was anxious for the president's numbers to come down (as they always do) so it could get back to conflict stories.

I see the left and the right attack Cillizza. The fact is, he's trying to make it newsworthy. Same with the rest of the media. And of course, having to feed a 24/7 news cycle on a dozen channels makes it worse.

For the ordinary American, the old saying "no news is good news" may still hold true. But for the media, "good news is no news."

Posted by: justjoeking | September 25, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I do not watch any television news other than local news, and then only infrequently. I prefer to read news myself instead of watching the overly dramatic reeanactments that news shows have become.

News outlets are in a difficult position.
If they report all sides of a story equally without discriminating between the rational and fringe opinions, they are accused of giving credibility to people who are several fries short of a Happy Meal.

If the declare a position "right" or "wrong" they are accused of taking sides and partisanship. If they support one side and then the other on different issues they are considered "unreliable" by both.

And if they support one side all the time, they become part of that side's propaganda machine.

In general, I tend to prefer news sources that clearly differentiate between reporting events and rendering opinions.

I learn about events by reading the reporting. I read online newspapers and magazines. I also read wire service reports and aggregators like The Fix.

Yes, I count The Fix as an event reporter. Chris may make predictions or offer insights into what he thinks an event may mean, but he largely avoids any specific partisan bent despite accusations from both extremes that he's a hard-core conservative/liberal.

However, I think about events while reading George Will, Dana Milbank, Kathleen Parker, David Broder, Ruth Marcus, Harold Meyerson, David Brooks, Gail Collins, Tom Friedman, Cal Thomas, Ellen Goodman and other professional opinionators who have studied news and take the time and effort to commit their opinions to writing.

Radio bloviators need not apply. I also don't listen to political speeches from anyone, though I do read the texts afterward.

My one exception to reading is that National Public Radio is my constant audio companion. It's really the last place to find serious discussion of events on the radio. The reason I believe this is because while listening to a listener call in show I heard, in succession, a series of obviously conservative callers accuse them of a liberal bias and a series of obviously liberal callers accuse them of not being liberal enough.

If both fringes are complaining that you're not favoring them, that's a pretty good indication to me that you're in the middle.

Posted by: Gallenod | September 25, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I don't believe that Obama is bashing the media. He is merely pointing out that the media coverage of health care has been decidely biased toward the opposition. Any idea as to how to get the job done is immediately torn down by some "expert" to the point that many people have given up and think it is impossible to achieve reform. The coverage of the townhall meetings is exhibit one. Those who were loud and extreme got coverage and those who were reasonable did not. We had a townhall in my community and it was reasonably civil. The result was no coverage despite the fact that their were print and TV outlets present for the meeting. Consumers of media coverage still have not learned to listen to primary sources, make up their own minds, and forget the media's analysis which is primarily designed to create conflict rather than inform. I cannot count the number of times that a media pundit has said that "this issue is a defining moment for the president". Forget this is a long race and there will be many issues that burn hot and then go away.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | September 25, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I subscribe to the "Economist", read "Great Decisions" from the Foreign Policy Association, read WaPo and NYT online, read the "Austin American-Statesman", listen to NPR, and watch Lehrer. Some days I get to read the "Houston Chronicle" or the DaMN. I never watch 24/7 cable unless I am on the treadmill at the Y.

I am 66 and work only 35 hours/wk, down from 60 hours/wk when I was not "semi-retired". My beautiful and brilliant wife is a CPA who still works those 60 hour [and more] weeks. She catches snippets late at night on 24/7 cable and asks me questions filled with foreboding about supposed imminent cataclysms that seem only dimly related to what I have heard or read, and that change daily.

My anecdotal second hand impression is that 24/7 cable news is a mixed blessing at best, and a disaster area, at worst. I am pretty satisfied with my own sources, but do not get enough sci-tech news from them. I intend to add a sci-tech source back into my reading.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 25, 2009 7:23 AM | Report abuse

exactly trep1, and here's an example of how the controversy and yelling and rudeness ill serves the public. Last Sunday on Howie Kurtz's show Amy kept interupting an other guest of a different political persuasion. the result---I never heard all of what the guy was trying to say and I never heard what her rebuttal was because he kept talking over her interuption. and Howie's response to my question on his chat about this?-- everyone does it!!! Our parents' never let us get away with that answer, and neither should the media. Not hearing either sides information and ideas because of yelling serves no one well.

Posted by: katem1 | September 25, 2009 6:56 AM | Report abuse

It seems to me that calling out the media for not doing its job well is not bashing the press. This country is better served when the press serves as a watchdog rather than a lapdog. We can point to more than one example in the last ten years where the press failed to do its job.

Posted by: trep1 | September 25, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

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