By Kaitlin Pendagast
In these vulnerable days of economic crisis, it is only natural for people to want a hero to come along to fix it all. President Barack Obama seemed to be the one that many people set their sights on to do so. The media nurtured and even seemed to create a lot of the hype over Obama during the pre-election season. The media coverage of Obama during this time served, to me, as an illustration of the virtual death of impartial journalism and news reporting in America. Of course, no one can deny the historical significance of his election. His charismatic nature also makes him easy to like, but the Obama idolization displayed in the media at large was nothing short of nauseating at times. To place such outlandishly high, bordering on god-like, expectations on any person is unrealistic and can only lead to disappointment.
It has been interesting, however, to watch how things unfold now that Obama is officially in office and the media circus seems to be dwindling down. Americans are now seeing our new president in a more human, rather than superhuman, light. We are now faced with his humanity as he exemplifies, particularly through recent events, the fact that he is capable of making mistakes just like anybody else. I do sincerely wish Obama the very best and think he has a great deal of leadership potential, but the general atmosphere of Obama-mania that went on and still lingers in newspapers and news stations nationwide is something that I feel we need to have a closer, more critical look at.
“The Obama-media love affair” was a popular phrase coined by Republicans during the campaign. Whether you supported Obama or not, it is impossible to completely dismiss the existence of any truth to that statement. Other than Fox News, which can generally be counted on to represent more conservative-friendly viewpoints, it was abundantly clear that most major media outlets were in the tank for Obama and provided constant fuel for the Obama craze during the campaign season.
As a Republican who voted for Sen. John McCain, I was (and still am) more readily able to point out the constant bias I saw in television, newspapers and magazines than some may have been. But in all honesty, how could any person studying the relationship between Obama and the media with an objective eye deny it? While it is irrelevant to dig up endless exemplifications of this “love affair” from months ago, it is worth noting how the effects of it have carried over to recent events.
The media’s unquestioning acceptance of the hypocrisy surrounding radio host Rush Limbaugh’s situation a few weeks back is an example of this. Limbaugh was widely condemned for the comments he made attacking Obama. A chief Washington correspondent for MSNBC even went so far as to openly urge Congress to denounce Limbaugh. Yet during Bush’s administration, countless high-profile celebrities and public figures often made comments much worse than “I hope he fails,” and rarely, if ever, received widespread media criticism for making them.
The astronomical cost of Obama’s extravagant inauguration in the midst of our economic recession was another area left not only unquestioned by mainstream media, but celebrated. While I do not argue that Limbaugh’s comments were right or that Obama’s inauguration was not something to be celebrated, the blatant liberal bias that has been shown by the media as a whole simply cannot be overlooked.
Though I am genuinely happy to see such widespread excitement, reignited patriotism and a new kind of unity amongst Americans, I feel it is important to be aware of the fickle, biased nature of the media that surrounds us and the role it played in forming the high expectations that our new president now has to live up to.
Kaitlin Pendagast is a sophomore communication major.