Obama-Mania at the NYT

After his surprisingly easy victory in the Iowa Caucuses, the New York Times is joining the rest of the media in promoting the historic candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama. Check how the Times flooded the country to get favorable Obama soundbites for Saturday's front-page story by Diane Cardwell, "Daring to Believe, Blacks Savor Obama Victory." The full byline:

"Reporting was contributed by James Barron, Timothy Williams and John Eligon from New York; Lakiesha R. Carr and Holli Chmela from Washington; Rebecca Cathcart from Los Angeles; Brenda Goodman from Birmingham, Ala.; Rachel Mosteller from Houston; Susan Saulny from Chicago; Kirk Semple from Miami; and Katie Zezima from Boston."

The beginning:

"For Sadou Brown in a Los Angeles suburb, the decisive victory of Senator Barack Obama in Iowa was a moment to show his 14-year-old son what is possible.

"For Mike Duncan in Maryland, it was a sign that Americans were moving beyond rigid thinking about race.

"For Milton Washington in Harlem, it looked like the beginning of something he never thought that he would see. "It was like, 'Oh, my God, we're on the cusp of something big about to happen,'" Mr. Washington said.

"How Mr. Obama's early triumph will play out in the presidential contest remains to be seen, and his support among blacks is hardly monolithic.

"But in dozens of interviews on Friday from suburbs of Houston to towns outside Chicago and rural byways near Birmingham, Ala., African-Americans voiced pride and amazement over his victory on Thursday and the message it sent, even if they were not planning to vote for him or were skeptical that he could win in November."

Also on Saturday, reporter Michael Powell, who found Republican Rudy Giuliani racially challenged (and used such respected figures as Al Sharpton to make his case) wrote "Embracing His Moment, Obama Preaches Hope in New Hampshire."

"Senator Barack Obama hops up to the stage in that hip-mod gray suit of his, clapping along with the audience on Friday, clapping for himself, clapping for this moment. He gazes at 1,200 people in overcoats and woolen hats and snow boots and asks for a show of hands.

"Be honest. How many of you are undecided about who you will support? A sea of arms shoots up.

"This is for a presidential candidate a golden sight. He is talking to those who yearn to be converted. He turns to two young aides and offers a stage whisper: 'See that? We got a lot of live ones.'

"Then he takes off at a rhetorical gallop, pulling the crowd behind him, lifting it, then slowing down. He is recruiting followers, yes, and his Democratic primary race here with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton could not be tighter. But the moment is suffused, so as almost not to require that he make it explicit, with a sense of historical moment. I, you, we can make history, he says, by turning the nation's sorrowful racial narrative into something radiant and hopeful."


"There is no getting around it, this man who emerged triumphant from the Iowa caucuses is something unusual in American politics. He has that close-cropped hair and the high-school-smooth face with that deep saxophone of a voice. His borrowings, rhetorical and intellectual, are dizzying. One minute he recalls the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his pacing and aching, staccato repetitions. The next minute he is updating John F. Kennedy with his 'ask not what America can do for you' riff on idealism and hope.

"Mr. Obama is not always on; particularly early in speeches he can become tangled in his words. But he rarely rushes; he takes it for granted that his audience will come along for the ride. So: 'Hope is not blind optimism.' Pause. 'Hope is not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight.' Pause. 'Hope is that thing inside of us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that there is something greater inside of us.'

"Such words mine a vein of American history that leaves more than a few listeners misty-eyed."

Finally, Monday's report by Janny Scott on the pressure on black leaders for endorsements after Obama's surprise win in Iowa showed another side of the Times' bias -- in labeling. Scott called the race-baiter Al Sharpton a "civil rights advocate," a knee-jerk habit for the Times. The left-wing Jesse Jackson is also identified as a "civil rights advocate" in a photo caption.

Clay Waters
Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.