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NRL News
Page 16
April 2009
Volume 36
Issue 4

A Slobbering Love Affair:
The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media

By Bernard Goldberg
Regnery Publishing, January 2009

Reviewed by Derrick Jones

It’s not very often that a book on the social sciences rack catches my eye. I’m far more inclined to lose myself in some fictional world or presidential biography. I spend the early morning hours and late nights perusing the latest world news, so the thought of spending money to read some commentator’s in-depth take on some random current event doesn’t interest me in the slightest. Until a couple of weeks ago, that is.

Browsing the bookstore at National Airport while waiting for my mom’s flight to Washington, I came across a book I couldn’t pass up: A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (and Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media by former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg. (Goldberg penned a 2001 missive entitled Bias: How the Media Distort the News. For it, he was called a traitor to the profession.)

I spent the better part of last year yelling at the television and groaning every time I read the latest “news” from the campaign trail. So Goldberg’s latest examination of the media and their overt bias called to me.

“If you didn’t notice the pro-Obama bias during the campaign, you were either dead or in a coma,” he writes. “If you were dead, there’s no reason to continue reading.”

In the days following the presidential election, NRL News editor Dave Andrusko and I traded columns, stories, and studies, each of them pointing out the media’s blatant abdication of journalistic ethics in the campaign.

Goldberg points to all of these studies and columns ... and then some. When he comes armed with empirical proof of the media’s PR efforts on behalf of the Obama campaign, it makes it difficult for the mainstream media to dismiss Goldberg as a conservative who sees liberal bias everywhere he looks—including his morning coffee.

He cites studies by Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, George Mason University’s Center for Media and Public Affairs, and the Media Research Center, which analyzed campaign coverage by the major networks. All found an overwhelming ratio of positive Obama stories to negative McCain stories.

MSNBC took the cake in the studies. With commentators like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann and reporters such as Andrea Mitchell and Nora O’Donnell all but wearing “Obama for President” buttons on air, it comes as no surprise.

FOX News, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism, was true to its “fair and balanced” claim. Forty percent of McCain stories were negative and forty percent of Obama stories were negative.

Even the [now former] ombudsman for the Washington Post admitted the paper goofed. Writing five days after the election, Deborah Howell wrote, “Obama deserved tougher scrutiny than he got.” No kidding.

With anecdotes, examples, and discussions with fellow journalists, Goldberg makes the point that the media’s protective barrier around Obama made him the Teflon candidate. No matter what issue came up, the campaign—with the media as obfuscators-in-chief—deflected and dismissed them as smear tactics and politics of the cheapest kind.

You may recall, National Right to Life felt the brunt of this first-hand. In August, we accurately called Obama to task for his opposition to the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which would have provided care and protection to babies who survive abortions. Obama’s dismissive response? “I hate to say that people are lying, but here’s a situation where folks are lying.” And with that, the story (in the eyes of the campaign and the media) was dead.

But, more than just bemoaning the cheerleading the mainstream media did during the campaign, Goldberg has a broader point that comes clear in an interview with political analyst Pat Caddell days after the election.

“There is one institution in America which has no checks and balances,” Caddell told Goldberg. “And that is the press. And there was a reason for that. It wasn’t that the Founding Fathers loved the press. It was because the press was supposed to protect the country. That’s why Jefferson said, ‘I would much rather have newspapers without a government than a government without newspapers.’

“But,” Cadell continued, “[when the media] leave the ramparts and become a partisan outrider ... essentially [deciding] who should be president and who should not be president; what truth people should know and what truth they should not know; then what they become, what they constitute, is a threat to democracy.”

And that, Goldberg concludes, is the moral of the story. “The press has constitutional protections for one main reason: to keep watch over a powerful government,” he writes. “If nobody cares what the press says, journalists will be watchdogs in name only.”