The Beltway media is an epic failure – The Green Lantern fantasy persists


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Oh lord, these Beltway media villagers are some of the most pathetic creatures imaginable. I'm not sure if it is their own personal failings, or the corporate media culture which produced them.

I recently posted The Beltway media is an epic failure – The Green Lantern fantasy returns. Undeterred, the Beltway media persisted with its Green Lantern fantasy today at President Obama's press conference. Greg Sargent writes, Why the Green Lantern Theory of Presidential Power persists:

At today’s press conference, President Obama spent a fair amount of
time pushing back on what some of us are calling the “Green Lantern
Theory of Presidential Power.” This theory — which seems to hold broad
sway over many in the press — holds that presidents should be able to
bend Congress to their will, and any failure to do so proves their
weakness and perhaps even their irrelevance.

What accounts for the persistence of this theory? The answer, I
think, lies in the tendency of reporters and analysts who are trying to
remain a neutral, nonpartisan posture to feel comfortable making process judgments, but not ideological ones.

The extent and limits of presidential power were at the center of one
of the most interesting exchanges of the day. ABC News’s Jonathan Karl
asked this question:

Mr. President, you are a hundred days into your second
term. On the gun bill, you put, it seems, everything into it to try to
get it passed. Obviously, it didn’t. Congress has ignored your efforts
to try to get them to undo these sequester cuts. There was even a bill
that you threatened to veto that got 92 Democrats in the House voting
yes. So my question to you is do you still have the juice to get the
rest of your agenda through this Congress?

Obama answered that Republicans have the option of cooperating with him to avert the sequester. He also said:

You seem to suggest that somehow, these folks over there
have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to
behave. That’s their job
. They are elected, members of Congress are
elected in order to do what’s right for their constituencies and for the
American people. So if, in fact, they are seriously concerned about
passenger convenience and safety, then they shouldn’t just be thinking
about tomorrow or next week or the week after that; they should be
thinking about what’s going to happen five years from now, 10 years from
now or 15 years from now. The only way to do that is for them to engage
with me on coming up with a broader deal. And that’s exactly what I’m
trying to do is to continue to talk to them about are there ways for us
to fix this.

As Jamelle Bouie quipped:
“Barack Obama asks press to maybe, possibly, hold Republicans
responsible sometime.”
Bouie added: “Congressional Republicans have agency, and at a certain point, they need to be held accountable for their actions.”

But here’s the problem: If a reporter or analyst were to call out
Republicans for failing to compromise with Obama, that reporter or
analyst would be calling on them to adopt a particular policy position
such as moving towards a mix of new revenues and spending cuts to
replace the sequester. It would amount to a criticism of the Republican
position — i.e., that we should only replace the sequester with spending
cuts. This is impermissible for the neutral writer, because it
constitutes an ideological judgment
. On the other hand, faulting Obama
for failing to get Republicans to move his way does not constitute
taking any kind of stand on who is right, ideologically speaking. It
only constitutes a judgment of Obama for failing to manipulate the
process adequately.

* * *

The reason all these explanations don’t weigh on the Green
Lanternites is the basic process/ideological imbalance identified above.
It’s okay for the nonpartisan writer to criticize a president for
failing to exert his will (a process judgment), but it’s not okay for
the nonpartisan writer to fault Republicans for failing to agree to move
in the direction of the policy a president wants (an ideological
Today, for instance, Ron Fournier, to his credit, conceded that Obama was right in describing the limits on his powers.
But he added: “Even if you concede to Obama every point of his Tuesday
news conference, a president looks weak and defeated when he shifts
accountability to forces out of his control.”

Perhaps this is how the public will view Obama; perhaps it isn’t.
What is clear, however, is the basic imbalance here. While
neutral commentators often hold up compromise, abstractly, as the Holy
Grail, the process/ideology dichotomy makes it much easier for those
commentators to fault the president for failing to work the process
effectively enough to secure compromise than to pillory the opposition
for being ideologically uncompromising.

So the "fair and balanced" crap that FAUX News falsely proclaims is the reason why the media engages in false equivalencies and gives a lie equal weight to the truth? Whatever happened to the old journalistic credo of "comfort the afflicted and afflict the confortable"? Report the facts and tell the truth. That is "fair" to your readers.