Our review of 2013 is not complete without a look at the year as depicted by the mainstream press. With the help of the Media Research Center let’s start in January, where Newsweek had on its Obama inauguration cover this headline: “The Second Coming.”
In subsequent months worshipful journalists averted their eyes from administration scandals. MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell stated in May, “IRS agents did nothing wrong.” Even in November Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post claimed, “This has been a really relatively scandal-free administration, first term and second term.” If that statement is relatively true, it’s only because most reporters haven’t looked.
And even when they could not help but see and report the Obamacare website mess, some remained propagandists. Ed Schultz on MSNBC’s The Ed Show on Sept. 30 inhaled about healthcare.gov: “how easy it is to navigate all the information, all the basic questions, and all the direction you need to take to get involved, to get health care.”
It’s not as if reporters didn’t want to be alarmist. On March 1 Josh Elliott opened ABC’s Good Morning America by announcing it was “deadline day. Hours, now, until massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American: jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free.” When nothing much happened, Savannah Guthrie four days later on NBC’s Today explained that the sequester is “not a poison that kills you overnight. Apparently it’s a slow, rolling poison.”
Liberal journalists regularly proposed capital punishment for poisoners. Roger Simon, Politico’s chief political columnist, Oct. 14: “If Ted Cruz and John Boehner were both on a sinking ship, who would be saved? Answer: America.” A joke, of course. CNN’s Piers Morgan, Sept. 12: Two conservative talk radio hosts, Ben Ferguson and Dana Loesch, should “stand at the end of a range and I’ll get 100 blind people to fire away at targets around you.” A joke, of course.
Even when such hate speech didn’t propose killing conservatives, liberal scribes suggested that their opponents were subhuman. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, July 15: Republicans have “a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable … an almost pathological mean-spiritedness.” Charles Pierce, esquire.com, Oct. 1: “We have elected an ungovernable collection of snake-handlers, Bible-bangers, ignorami. … The true power resides in a cabal of vandals, a nihilistic brigade.”
Given how evil conservatives are, how could journalists not do part-time public relations for the Obama administration? (And some hoped for full-time gigs like the one press secretary Jay Carney nabbed from his Time perch.) Chris Matthews, though, was panting a little too hard on Feb. 25 when he interviewed two pro–Hillary Clinton journalists and said, “If you’re watching, Madam Secretary, all three of us have brilliant ideas.”
(The more sophisticated approach was that of New York Times correspondent Mark Landler at an Oct. 8 Obama press conference. Instead of asking a question, Landler went on for more than 100 words that ended with a kiss-up comment about how President Obama alone could have brought about a trade deal. The president’s reply rewarded him: “I think that’s a great example.” Next stop: White House speechwriter?)
Chris Matthews is almost always over-the-top, of course, but in 2013 he outdid himself. On July 31 he called Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee “political terrorists” whose “only goal is to blow things up.” On Sept. 23 he attacked Cruz’s “sinister self-awareness” and two weeks later said “know-nothings in the Congress [are] characters in some ghastly, real-life remake of Planet of the Apes, where the bad guys fear nothing more than science and other evidence of human progress.” On Oct. 18 he spoke of “right-wing camp followers plying their trade like the women who got their name in the earlier time from General [Joe] Hooker.”
The single worst comment of 2013 came from MSNBC host Martin Bashir on Nov. 15, when Sarah Palin said our spiraling national debt enslaves us, and Bashir said she deserved—how do I put this delicately?—to have someone defecate in her mouth. Three days later Bashir, who professes faith in Christ, acknowledged, “My words were wholly unacceptable.” On Dec. 4 he did the right thing and resigned. So should others—but they won’t.