By Michael Lashley
In chronicling the performance of President Barack Obama, a significant part of the American media gives us an eye-opening experience of the irrelevance of the facts.
While this president is certainly no angel – no American president can be an angel; that is not allowed – he is very frequently portrayed as a big failure precisely at times when he is a big success.
Sometime in the last 12 months or so an email was being circulated to provide clear statistical evidence of the success of Obama’s management of the very same American economy that was in total freefall when he assumed office. The author of that email was expressing his/her anger at the U.S. media coverage. He/she was arguing that it was the height of irresponsibility and blatant bias for the media to be painting an obviously inaccurate image of the president’s performance in this specific area.
How do foreigners react when they discover that a lot of American politics is akin to a non-stop saga of million-dollar and billion-dollar wars? Unaccustomed to the American media culture and unfamiliar with the inner workings of American politics, newcomers are surprised to find that it is very common in the U.S. for journalists to publicly show their unbridled partisanship in their “reporting” and “analysis”.
The more trained eye notices the inter-related issues of media ownership in the States: the interlocking of the business/finance elites and the media empires;the larger influence in the media of Republican and conservative forces such as the Tea Party and “the religious right”; the solid listenership of conservative media cued in to Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck; and the equally impressive intellectual advocacy of conservative stars such as commentator Ann Coulter and former state governor and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The American media and the president are both fully aware that a more than significant percentage of their population believes there is nothing inherently scandalous about the workings of the market forces; about the fact that the level of access to health care in the U.S. was probably among the lowest among OECD countries; about the fact that in certain American States large segments of the economy are totally dependent on large numbers of illegal immigrants who with their spouses and children are denied what other countries call basic human rights.
Many of those same media houses made it a point to attack Obama for the massive failure (and for the astronomical costs in money and American lives) of the American “interventions” in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East. Yet they continue to attack him as being indecisive and ineffectual now that he is assuming a less aggressive policy on the use of American military and political force in those and other international conflict zones, especially in the most recent situation in Ukraine.
Not to worry! Those complaints in and by U.S. media are soon going to be reversed when Obama’s term comes to an end and the more “assertive” “American leadership on the world stage” will be undertaken by the steely Hillary Clinton.