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Why Obama's Low Approval Ratings Aren't Newsworthy
Over the past six years, it's been demonstrated countless times that if it weren't for double standards, the national news media wouldn't have any standards at all.
We've watched on as the same outlets who desperately tried to tie George W. Bush to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff yawned when it came to the unanswered questions on Fast and Furious and the Benghazi attack.
We've watched on as the same journalists who obsessed over Plamegate have buried their heads in the sand when it comes to reporting on the IRS's targeting of conservative groups, and the conveniently-timed genocide of computer hard-drives belonging to those who are being investigated.
We listened to a media that was eager to tie Sarah Palin to the Tuscon mass-shooting back in 2011, because she used gun metaphors in her speeches and on her website. We listened to the media call for an end to the use of such metaphors, and hail President Obama for asking that politicians cease that kind of rhetoric. We then listened to the media's rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence when President Obama proclaimed that the GOP was "putting a gun" to the head of the American people. And we heard no one in the media attempt to connect Joe Biden's "buy a shotgun" comments to the Washington DC Navy Yard shooter who used a shotgun to kill 12 people a few months later.
As Bernie Goldberg pointed out in a recent column, the media created a years-long narrative out of the infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner that hung on an aircraft carrier. What was that narrative? That George W. Bush was an aloof idiot. Yet, President Obama's multiple public declarations that the war in Iraq was over, and likening of the terror group ISIS to a junior varsity team somehow doesn't make him an aloof in idiot - not to the mainstream media anyway.
In many cases, even the exact same issues the media pounded Bush on have become non-issues under Obama: Guantanamo Bay, the Patriot Act, the use of drones, warrantless wiretapping, rendition, and high gas prices (just to name a few).
I could list dozens of other double standards used by the national media in their coverage of the Obama administration, but I really don't need to. It's right there in front of us, every day, for anyone who's paying attention to see.
Over the past several months, I've been hearing many on the left insist on television and the Internet that the media has not only been critical but overly critical of President Obama in his second term. The only sliver of truth to that observation is that the media no longer needs to feel quite as protective of the president as they once did, simply because he was re-elected and has termed out. To conclude, however, that the media continues to be anything other than incredibly charitable to the president is foolish. The results of a recent study conducted by the Media Research Center clearly demonstrate this.
The study shows that from January 1st to August 31st of 2006, there were 124 reports of President Bush's low approval ratings on the national network news broadcasts. In contrast, from January 1st to August 31st of 2014 (the same time span within Obama's presidency), there were only 9 reports. Yes... 9. The two presidents' approval ratings were essentially the same during that time, yet the national news media decided that it was only a big story when Bush was on the receiving end of the public's displeasure.
Why is that? Why was it 13 times more important that Bush had low approval ratings? The answer is simple. Discontentment is contagious. When the public is continually reminded of how unpopular something is, that sentiment spreads. It becomes conventional wisdom, and in the case of politics, it affects elections. While President Obama won't be on the ballot in November, his cohorts in the Democratic Party certainly will, and control of the U.S. Senate is up for grabs. In 2006, the media wanted displeasure in President Bush to spread, and boy did it. In 2014, they want displeasure in Obama to be contained and marginalized for the sake of the Democratic Party.
Selective omission is one of the most effective forms of media bias, and it's alive and well 6 years into this presidency.