On Jon Stewart, Bob Woodward, & Rick Sanchez, et al: or Media Phonies Against Obama

So with yesterday’s news that CNN fired Rick Sanchez over his angry (actually, I heard the thing, and it was more so a Poor Pitiful Me game he was playing) rant against his own network and Jon Stewart, among others, let’s take a breath and look at several examples of an acronym I just couldn’t make work: Media Phonies Against Obama, or MPAO.
Jon Stewart, who certainly has had many funny moments on The Daily Show and tends to be at least mildly amusing, is promoting his Return to Sanity event, but is starting to smell like he’s feeding from the same trough as Glenn Beck. He condemns Obama for what he hasn’t done, when it’s clear that Obama has tried (& succeeded, in some cases, and in others, failed) to do the right thing on several fronts, but is fighting the good fight against entrenched forces. His modest attempts to improve our healthcare system are labeled “Obamacare” and attacked by well-funded Rightwing forces. In the shameless category of Disinformation, MSNBC even had a headline last week (or “deck,” the text below the headline, to be more accurate) that referred to the (completely fictional) “death panels.”
Bob Woodward was on the ABC Nightly News hawking his latest book about the inside workings of the White House, Obama’s Wars (a deceptive title if there ever was one, considering both Iraq and Afghanistan are wars Obama inherited: he’s been in office less than two years, correct?), which he slanted horribly in the soundbite with Dianne Sawyer. He focused on one quote in which Obama essentially said American can and will absorb the brunt of terrorist attacks. What would Woodward have Obama say? “We’ll crawl in a hole and hide”? Hard to do with 300 million plus population. But what was not glossed over apparently in the book is Obama’s effort to get out of Afghanistan, to resist the U.S. military’s demands for an open-ended war. Woodward obviously thought that was less important in the soundbite category than trying to slant his words. He grinned smugly as he made it seem Obama was somehow treating terrorism lightly.
Jon Stewart tends to make easy jokes about complex issues, and sure, that’s the nature of late night comedy. But I admire Obama for standing in there and trying to do the right thing, not for laughs or ratings, but because he was elected to do a difficult job in a difficult moment in history. He doesn’t tend to whine (actually, I like him best when he shows real anger) or get giggly (the way Jon Stewart does). I’m not a huge fan of his economic team, but the idea that he could somehow completely overhaul our financial system is not simply disingenuous (which it is, in part), but rather dumb/dim. Wall Street power is not mythical. Banks and investment houses have vigorously fought his modest financial reforms, but he did succeed in something. The same with health care. It may not be perfect, but it’s something in the right direction.
And yes, I’m sure the Democratic Party officials wouldn’t be keen for that as a bumper sticker phrase: Obama: Something in the Right Direction. (Of course I did have a bumper sticker that read, “Kerry/Edwards—Para un America más fuerte,” but that’s another story.) In this era of Know-Nothing politics and Tea Party idiocy, perhaps that’s what we’re left with. Something. Anything.

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