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In Love Again: The Mainstream Media Suddenly Support the President

By Noel SheppardAssociate Editor, NewsBusters.org/Media Research Center

How do you turn a White House-hating-journalist into its biggest fan?

Put a Democrat in the Oval Office, of course.

This fact has become disturbingly apparent since the election of Barack Obama as press member after press member has jumped on the executive branch's bandwagon like a teenybopper fawning over a rock star.

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This follows eight years of most media outlets blaming every bad thing that happened anywhere in the world -- including hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes -- on George W. Bush and/or someone in his administration.

Our media neutered Bush in 2005. Their efforts effectively put an end to his presidency in the first year of his second term. Now, with a Democrat about to be sworn in as president, the hatred for the executive branch is gone, and it's suddenly one for all and all for one.
Consider first the metamorphosis of MSNBC's Chris Matthews -- you know, the alleged journalist who actually admitted with cameras rolling that he gets a thrill up his legwhenever Obama speaks.

Having proudly declared shortly after Election Day that his job is to make Obama's presidency successful(doesn't it make you wonder if this is how his bosses at NBC see things, too?) Matthews gave an enthusiastic "Good for you" to Time's Joe Klein when the latter said on last Sunday's"Chris Matthews Show" that he felt 2009 would be a good year for the new president.

This sycophantic "attaboy" came from a man that has been ranting against the current White House for years, including one tirade in 2007 that required vulgarityto really drive home the point.

Making Matthews' behavioral change even more hypocritical was his defense of a seemingly indefensible remark he made at the party given for the tenth anniversary of "Hardball."

Speaking at the October 5, 2007, event, Matthews saidthe Bush administration had "finally been caught in their criminality."

This created a bit of a firestorm at the time forcing Matthews to explain himselfon the following day's "Hardball":

As my hero Eric Sevareid once noted, we cannot always be right on the facts, though we must try to be; we cannot always be fair, but we must try to be. But we must always be independent.

I guess to Matthews this independence is only necessary when a Republican is in the White House.

Sadly, Matthews isn't alone. NBC's Andrea Mitchell told PBS's Charlie Roselast Wednesday that Obama turns her on, and that she'd like to see a "dialing down of all of the sharp criticism that we have on cable talk, on talk radio, from, you know, the -- the blogosphere."

Mitchell put an exclamation point on this thought: "I just wish that we could find something in the center that would be bipartisan and would be productive and constructive."

This from a woman who shortly before Election Day 2006 referred to the Bush administrationas "the gang that couldn't shoot straight."

Interesting that after almost a decade of hyper-partisanship and divisive reporting Mitchell is now calling for civility as the presidential candidate she helped get elected is about to be inaugurated.

The same is true of PBS's Tavis Smiley who told MSNBC's Joe ScarboroughFriday: "We're all working for Barack Obama...We have to help make him a great president."

Of course, Smiley wasn't interested in helping to make George W. Bush a great president having referred to him as a serial killershortly before Election Day 2000, and more recentlydeclaring that people are "so angry at George Bush that they want to see [the Iraq war] fail to spite him."

What a difference a "D" makes.

To be sure, after the deplorable coverage of last year's presidential campaign it certainly is no surprise the Obama-loving media are suddenly beginning to adore the branch of government they have treated with utter contempt for nearly a decade. Such was to be expected.

However, to so quickly go from antagonist to protagonist is rather unseemly, especially given the posture press members eagerly took shortly after Election Day 2004.

Quite diametric from media's current desire to help Barack Obama, they appeared to work tirelessly at making Bush a lame duck well before such a classification is typically assigned to second term presidents.

These efforts began when press members pointed fingers at Bush for supposedly being slow to offer financial assistance to the nations hit hard by the tsunamis on December 26, 2004.

As 2005 began, the media vigorously opposed social security reform aiding and abetting the Democrat leadership in spreading misinformation about the gravity of the program's pending insolvency. Bush's inability to move any legislation on this issue forward cost him dearly with conservatives and was the beginning of Republican disillusionment that assisted Democrats in taking back Congress the following year.

Of course, nothing was more damaging to Bush than the press actually blaming him for Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans and that city's levees not holding. Posterity may look upon the coverage of that national disaster as the worst in American history.

Add it all up, and our media neutered Bush in 2005. Their efforts effectively put an end to his presidency in the first year of his second term. Now, with a Democrat about to be sworn in as president, the hatred for the executive branch is gone, and it's suddenly one for all and all for one.

What should concern Americans most about this speedy transformation, regardless of their political leanings, is that this may be a foreshadowing of things to come and that the new administration will enjoy virtually no scrutiny or oversight from journalists.

Since it seems unlikely that the Democrat-controlled Congress will perform such a function, we could be looking at one of the most unchecked and unrestrained White Houses in decades.

Much to Andrea Mitchell's likely chagrin, that means the country's very future depends on a ratcheting up of all of the sharp criticism on the conservative cable programs, talk radio, and in the blogosphere.

Sorry to disappoint her, but someone's got to do the job she and her colleagues abdicated years ago when they decided to be advocates rather than journalists.

Noel Sheppard is associate editor of the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback at nsheppard@newsbusters.org.

Noel Sheppard is associate editor of the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback at NewsBustersNoel@gmail.com.