(Media Matters) - Perpetually fuming about President Obama, Sean Hannity widened his rant Wednesday night on Fox News and condemned the “lapdog, kiss ass media” that allegedly lets Obama have his way. Echoing the same attack, Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week that ”Mr. Obama is a once-in-a-generation demagogue with a compliant press corps,” while the anti-Obama Daily Caller pushed the headline, ”Lapdog Media Seeking Lap To Lie In.”
Complaining about the “liberal media,” has been a running, four-decade story for conservative activists. But what we’re hearing more of lately is the specific allegation that the press has purposefully laid down for the Democratic president, and that it’s all part of a master media plan to help Democrats foil Republicans.
The rolling accusation caught my attention since I wrote a book called Lapdogs, which documented the Beltway media’s chronic timidity during the previous Republican administration, and particularly with regards to the Iraq War. I found it curious that Hannity and friends are now trying to turn the rhetorical tables with a Democrat in the White House, and I was interested in what proof they had to lodge that accusation against today’s press.
It turns out the evidence is quite thin. For instance, onenever-ending partisan cry has been the press has “ignored” the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last year; that they’re protecting Obama. Yet theNew York Times and Washington Post have published nearly 800 articles and columns mentioning Benghazi since last September, according to Nexis.
What the lapdog allegation really seems to revolve around is the fact that conservatives are angry that Obamaremains popular with the public. Rather than acknowledge that reality, partisans increasingly blame the press and insist if only reporters and pundits would tell ‘the truth’ about Obama, then voters would truly understand how he’s out to destroy liberty and freedom and capitalism.
Sorry, but that’s not what constitutes a lapdog press corps. And to confuse chronic partisan whining with authentic media criticism is a mistake. The Hannity-led claim also isn’t accurate. Studies have shown that during long stretches of his first term, Obama was hammered with “unrelentingly negative” press coverage.
By contrast, the lapdog era of the Bush years represented nothing short of an institutional collapse of the American newsroom. And it was one that, given the media’s integral role in helping to sell the Iraq War, did grave damage to our democracy.
I brought this up a while back.
I’ve been though 6 presidents in my lifetime and I’ve heard the same complaint of “the media being too easy on them” about each of them from the opposite party.
I don’t think the issue here is conservative or liberal bias in the press, but a bias in general toward the president.
Given how popular Bush was immediately following 9-11 when he was polling at 90% approval by 9-23-01 and had an average approval rating of 62% during his first term, the press jumped right on the bandwagon.
I see the same thing happening with Obama, as his approval ratings increase, the mainstream press has been going easier on him, not to the same effect they did with Bush, but there are several other factors as to why not (including the surge of nationalism directly after 9-11 and leading into the war with Iraq).
It all comes down to the press kissing a president’s ass the higher their approval ratings are.