As it turns out, mainstream media outlets that lauded President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech as "downright Reaganesque" might be on to something.
While ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC exalted the commander-in-chief, at least one observer charged the Democratic president with crafting a speech that was "tantamount to plagiarism."
In a column on the U.S. News site, presidential scholar Alvin Felzenberg accused Obama of borrowing lines and ideas from other speeches and claiming them as his own.
"President Obama’s second State of the Union address contained enough recycled ideas and lines lifted from speeches of others to make historians wince," quipped Felzenberg, himself a former presidential speechwriter. "Had the president submitted the text of his second State of the Union Address in the form of a college term paper, he would have been sent forthwith to the nearest academic dean."
Felzenberg asserted that Obama plagiarized Woodrow Wilson, Mario Cuomo, Margaret Thatcher, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, among others, but broadcast networks and cable outlets have all ignored the charges.
As NewsBusters reported yesterday, ABC, CBS, and NBC fawned over the president's address but omitted a growing chorus of criticism. On the cable side, both MSNBC and CNN have yet to even mention the allegations. Additionally, a Nexis search revealed that none of the aforementioned outlets have covered the story on their Web sites.
Meanwhile, print and online media outlets are buzzing about Felzenberg's claims.
The Wall Street Journal, Fox Nation, and Washington Examiner all linked to Felzenberg's U.S. News piece. The Los Angeles Times posted a more comprehensive assessment of the president's apparent plagiarism early this morning that included a nod to Felzenberg and a reminder to readers that some of Obama's speeches during the 2008 election shared some "striking similarities" to those of Democrat Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts.
While mainstream broadcast and cable networks continue to ignore the plagiarism allegations leveled against Obama, they were eager to provide a megaphone last year to those who accused a Republican of plagiarizing one of Obama's speeches.
On May 25, 2010, MSNBC invited the Huffington Post's Ryan Grim to lambast Vaughn Ward, a Republican congressional candidate, for allegedly stealing lines from then-State Senator Obama's famous 2004 Democratic National Convention speech.
"A GOP congressional candidate has seen his campaign go from a sure-thing to a real nailbiter," intoned MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall. "He's actually accused of plagiarizing President Obama."
The broadcast and cable outlets that continue to ignore Felzenberg's allegations do so at their own peril. It is only a matter of time before the American people realize that these ostensibly objective networks are intentionally burying a story that an increasing number of news organizations acknowledge as a legitimate criticism of the president.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.