Obama Aims for a More Perfect Union, But Will the Media Fall Short of Perfection?


Barack Obama wrote his speech on race in America himself. He worked on it for a couple of days, and stayed up until 2 a.m. Tuesday to finish it. The senator conceded on “Nightline” that he couldn’t predict how the address would be perceived: “You know, you throw a rock into a pond and those ripples will go out. We don’t know where those ripples will go. I have no idea how this plays out politically.”



It’s always the awkward catch, isn’t it? How a political event “plays” ultimately dictates whether it was a good move or a bad one. Time’s Joe Klein described Obama’s remarks as “the best speech about race I’ve ever heard delivered by an American politician,” but immediately wondered whether the media would be judicious in its coverage. “I hope our colleagues over at the networks give Obama his due,” Klein said.



Right off the bat, shortly after the speech ended, it looked like the media was going to blow it. The lead headline on MSNBC’s website read, “Obama: Racial anger is ‘real.’” On CNN.com, it read, “Obama: Constitution stained by ’sin of slavery.’” Shortly thereafter, Fox News ran an edited soundbite to make it appear as if Obama was attacking his grandmother.

I’m pleased to note, however, that news outlets got more responsible as the day went on. The NYT ran a news-analysis piece this morning that seemed to appreciate the significance of the event.

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