From "Racist," To "Dick," To Heckling: How The Press Treats Obama
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Neil Munro's infamously brazen and boorish act of disrespect last week at the White House represented an eruption of frustration that's been building within the right-wing media during Obama's time was president. That a partisan, political player from the Daily Caller would shout angry comments at the president, interrupting him while he gave a formal statement in the Rose Garden, was simultaneously shocking and quite predictable.
Shocking because the behavior was more akin to Nixonian rat fucking than it was to journalism.
Predictable though, because the GOP Noise Machine has for years depicted Obama as a lowly, un-American dictator/criminal; as someone unworthy of respect, which is exactly how Munro treated him. The only difference was that instead of doing that in the hothouse confines of Daily Caller's website where openly hating Obama in the expected norm, Munro lashed out in a very public setting.
Unfortunately, the casual tone of Oval Office disrespect that's become a hallmark of the right-wing media has found some pockets of acceptance, and even imitation, within the mainstream press. Yes, the press universally condemned the Daily Caller's classless attempt to upstage the president mid-sentence. But you can spot mainstream bouts of derogatory chatter that would have been unlikely when a Republican was in the White House. (Yes, it was Time's Mark Halperin who called Obama a "dick" on national television.)
Much like with the Clinton presidency, there has been a consuming effort by the conservative media (and the Republican Party) to delegitimize the current Democratic presidency. The difference this time, thanks to the shifting media landscape, is that right-wing name-calling has been ramped up and a runaway lack of civility is now worn like a badge of conservative honor.
Recall that following Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address, conservative media players responded to the president's policy-heavy speech by calling him a "grating," "flippant," "arrogant" "jerk" who's "cocky" and can't hide his "fake sincerity."
This, of course, after Glenn Beck strolled onto the set of Fox & Friends in July of 2009 and announced the President of the United States was a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people."
You probably can't even count the number of insults and smears that have been hurled at Obama by the GOP press, although Sally Kohn recently did a nice job of highlight some of the more vile broadsides:
- "We're now governed by people who do not like the country" -- Rush Limbaugh re: President Obama
- President Obama wants to "destroy capitalism" -- Hermann Cain
- President Obama "certainly isn't one of us" -- John Hinderaker
- President Obama "doesn't put America first" -- John Hawkins
- Questioning President Obama's patriotism -- David Limbaugh
- President Obama is "ruling" the US according to the dreams of his "philandering, inebriated African socialist" Kenyan father -- Dinesh D'Souza
- President Obama was "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia" -- Donald Trump
And it's not just the fringe players, either. Supposedly serious pundits who work at places like the Wall Street Journal have also spent an inordinate amount of time calling the president names instead of actually critiquing his policies. Journal columnist Bret Stephen lashed out at the president (and former Harvard Law Review editor) by calling him "stupid," while Peggy Noonan has labeled Obama a "boring" "loser" and a "walking headache" who ought to just "shut up."
Erudite commentary this is not.
The problem is that that kind of purposeful noise pollution cannot be discounted in terms of how it affects the mainstream media's dealings with Obama.