Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Book Review: A Slobbering Love Affair

A new book by Bernard Goldberg is worth bringing back the book review feature of this site. Mr. Goldberg's book, A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media, is a very critical look at the way the media covered the 2008 Presidential campaign. Mr. Goldberg does not blame the media for McCain's loss, nor does he attack President Obama. He does ask a few critical questions of Barack Obama, but this book is more a critique of the media, and not any one person. A sentence from the inside book flap really sums up the major theme of this book. Talking about the media's coverage of the 2008 presidential race, "…the media crossed an important line…moving from their usual unthinking liberal bias to crass partisanship of the crudest kind, practically acting as spin doctors for the presidential campaign of Barack Obama." Mr. Goldberg argues that some of it was intentional, but worse, some of it was done with the best of intentions. Many in the media honestly believed (and probably still believe) Barack Obama was a better candidate that McCain, and that by electing Obama, the United States would be brought into a new golden age. I have no problem with that belief. However, the media crossed the line by acting on it. By not reporting on stories that were critical of Obama or Biden, while digging through dumpsters in Alaska looking for any controversy regarding Sarah Palin, the media ditched their role as observer and instead became an active participant.

A Slobbering Love Affair does point out some concerns the author had for candidate Obama. The author provides a list of interview questions he would have asked the candidate that no one in the press thought of. For example, Mr. Goldberg would have asked:

  1. "How willing are you to disappoint liberals?"

  2. "Name two or three conservative ideas you find useful and would be central to your 'post-partisan' political philosophy."

  3. "Some people believe that the reason so many young black people are behind the eight-ball in this country is not because of old-fashioned racism, but because of dysfunctional behavior: fifteen-year old girls having babies, teenagers dropping out of high school for example. You spoke forcefully and eloquently on Father's Day about this kind of behavior. But then you dropped the subject. As someone who enjoys tremendous support in the black community, you might have had some positive impact on the lives of these kids if you made it a recurring theme of your campaign. Why didn't you?" {emphasis in the original}

These questions appear in Chapter Eighteen, Ten Questions for Barack Obama. I would have liked to have heard the answers to these questions, but there were few in the media willing to ask them. Mr. Goldberg points out that the media is protected by the First Amendment because, "…the press has constitutional protections for one main reason: to keep watch over a powerful government." When that press becomes active players in one campaign or another, their credibility is lowered, or destroyed. Want to know why Democratic Senators are trying to bail out newspapers? Because the American public no longer trusts print media.

A Slobbering Love Affair is a very quick read. I would encourage everyone to read it regardless of your political leanings. If you believe the mainstream media is fair and unbiased, Mr. Goldberg has done some homework for you that just might open your eyes.


Rebecca said...

Will check it out.

BTW, Russell is gearing up again ...

site updates, I hear :)

Andy D said...

I really enjoyed the book. I read it in a weekend.

I saw he is back on the attack. I have gotten some campaign info from him in the mail. I will be supporting him in 2010!

the anonymous guy said...

You could tell the media were in love with Obama by the way they *buried* video clips of Jeremiah Wright. Has anybody even heard of this guy?

Andy D said...

Rev. Wright is actually a very good example. Far from running away from the topic, Mr. Goldberg devotes an entire chapter to the media's failure with Rev. Wright. For example:

1) The Rolling Stone first reported on Rev. Wright in a profile on Obama in February of 2007. Sean Humanity of the "new media" started reporting on Rev Wright around this time. The Main Stream Media (MSM), the media that Goldberg attacks in his book, didn't start covering Wright until March of 2008.

2) When the MSM did begin covering Rev. Wright, they tried to water down the connection between Wright and Obama. Very few of the MSM examined the racism contained in Wrights words.

A good example, from page 67 of Mr. Goldberg's book, of how the media handled Wright and Obama appeared in the Boston Globe:

"Wright has been profiled by several newspapers, and the forward shock troops of the right-wing hate machine, i.e. FOX News, have already lobbed a few shells in his direction."

According to the Globe, Wright wasn't a legitimate campaign issue. He was a straw man conjured up by the right wing.

I have written about Obama and Wright on this site a number of times. Wright had many ties to President Obama. Wrights comments would be unacceptable from anyone running for office and should have caused concern for anyone with close ties to him running for office. The voters in the end decide what is important and what isn't. However, the media did their best to white wash the Wright / Obama relationship so the voters wouldn't have all the facts on it.

the anonymous guy said...

OK that quote is a perfect example of Goldberg's irrelevance. He's quoting a *columnist* not a reporter. (A columnist like Coulter, Malkin, and Goldberg himself.)

You wrote, based on a *column* in the Boston Globe, that "According to the Globe, Wright wasn't a legitimate campaign issue."

That's just wrong. (Google counts 1,240 instances of Wright showing up in the Boston Globe.) I assume you just didn't do your homework--not that you're intentionally distorting the truth.

pack04 said...

Have you ever noticed that when people don't have a good argument they resort to nit-picky word play?

It sounds like an interesting take on the roll of news media and the election. We know it changes elections, it has in the past. To discount the effect of it in this past election is just plain dumb.

Andy D said...

One important point I took from Mr. Goldberg's book was that the media has really called its own credibility into question. What happens when we really need an investigative media? We don't have one at CBS, NBC, or ABC.

the anonymous guy said...

The problem, pack, is that a nit-picky point sometimes destroys an argument, as it does to the quote Andy posted.

Andy D said...

The nit picky detail does nothing to destroy my argument. Do you really believe the media reported accurately on Obama during the Presidential Race?

Goldberg points out that the day after the election, the editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham, and a writer for Newsweek, Evan Thomas, went on Charlie Rose to state that Obama was a,"...slightly creep, deeply manipulative guy." I can provide the full quote if you wish.

Tom Brokaw had appeared a few days earlier to say that "There is a lot about [Obama] we don't know." Charlie Rose, Tom Brokaw, Jon Meacham, and Evan Thomas all had the ability to write hard hitting, factual articles about Senator Obama during the campaign and didn't. That is what Mr. Goldberg is criticizing in his book.

saint said...

One thing I've always wondered about Obama, and never heard a definitive answer too. I don't follow the news closely, so forgive me if everyone else already knows, but, where was Obama born?

the anonymous guy said...

One thing I've never heard the answer to: why does John McCain call his wife obscene names?

Andy D said...

Obama has claimed he was born in Hawaii. There are some people who have challenged this. I am not one who subscribes to the conspiracy theories that Obama wasn't actually born in the United States.

Anon, I have no idea what you are talking about.

pack04 said...

So a columnist has less creditably than a reporter?

I think it would be very hard for anybody to effectively argue that the media was not "in love" so to speak with President Obama. It would be hard to argue that he was not asked soft questions. SNL made fun of it. Did he get a free ride no. The Reverend Wright stuff is an example of that.

However, it is important to remember that the media is in the business of making money. It was very easy to see that President Obama quickly became a celebrity. The media used that to make money and did everything they could to keep making money. The only thing I have not figured out is what came first, the chicken or the egg so to speak. Did the people's love affair happen and the media covered it or did the media start up the love affair and the people bought into it. Either way it is clear to me that the media, as a whole, is for making money and the ideology of them being a protector of freedom and a watchdog for the people is nothing more than a piece of paper they wipe their ass with.

Speaking of media. How does the freedom of press clause of the 1st amendment work if a newspaper receives government bailout money? How do they print a critical story of the government without worry of special taxes or forced "resignings?" So how does that help and protect the general public?

the anonymous guy said...

Conservative columnists are carried in more newspapers and have higher circulation levels than liberal columnists.

For example, George Will and Kathleen Parker are the most widely published newspaper columnists in the United States.

Thus, by Goldberg's and Andy's logic, all of those newspapers that carry these columnists therefore "agree with" George Will and Kathleen Parker.

You can see the absurdity in all of this: many of these newspapers also carry liberal or centrist columnists, and so, by Andy's logic, these newspapers also "agree with" the liberal columnists. So all of these newspapers must be both far-right-wingers and also total left-wing fanatics.

When you play fast and loose with the facts (and don't get "nit-picky") you end up making absurd arguments.

And, I think it's accurate to say that we didn't need a really cool and smart democrat to beat the party of George W. Bush. He was already one of the most unpopular presidents in history--before we had a democratic nominee. The Republican party will get their mojo back sometime. But for now, most people just don't like them or their ideas. It's kinda lame to blame the media for that.

Andy D said...

I think you are missing two very important points:

1) Neither I nor Mr. Goldberg blame the media for Obama wining the Presidency. As you note, a lot of people were really turned off by the Republican brand last year. That coupled with a few other points, and it is easy to argue that no Republican candidate could have won last year.

2) The bulk of the mainstream media refused to do any real investigative work on Obama. Did they report about Reverand Wright? Sure, but only after conservative media had been covering it for some time. They did very little reporting on Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers or Tony Rezko. They may have made cursory passing remarks of it, but they didn't do any real investigative journalism.

The problem is not that they "got Obama elected". The problem is that they have ceased to be impartial watchdogs.

the anonymous guy said...

The problem is that Andy wants the "watchdog" press to bark at things that aren't there, i.e. some nefarious relationship between Obama and Rezko or Ayers.

I'd love it if the press discovered that George W. Bush had promised fellow oil executives before the election that he would find an excuse to take over Iraq and build the world's biggest embassy as a way to get Iraqi oil. Should I complain that the "watchdog" press is failing at their job until they find what I'm looking for?