The mainstream media hasn't bothered to hide its infatuation with President Obama. They get physical thrills at the sound of his voice. His inauguration caused them to reach for religious imagery. Now that he's in the White House, they want us to know us what a breath of cultural fresh air he is - more informal, healthier and family-centered. Unwittingly, though, they're also showing a man who listens to hateful rap music, scarfs fatty foods and doesn't practice what he preaches on environmental responsibility.
Take for example the fluffy pieces that closed ABC and NBC's Jan. 29 evening news programs. On "Nightly News," Brian Williams gave nearly three minutes to the new White House dress code. "It was an article in this morning's New York Times that told the wider world what folks in Washington were already buzzing about," Williams said, "the change in style surrounding the Obama White House."
Obama has relaxed the "jacket required" policy of President Bush's Oval Office, and has been photographed at his desk in shirtsleeves. The reason? He keeps the Oval Office very warm.
Over on ABC, reporter Jake Tapper also noted the temperature change as part of his larger report on the president's typical day. "America's first Hawaiian-born president keeps the Oval Office warm causing economic advisor Larry Summers to break out in occasional sweat."
In that New York Times article Williams mentioned, David Axelrod, Obama's senior adviser, explained the president's habit saying it's because he's from Hawaii. "He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there."
But neither the Times nor the networks remembered something Obama the candidate had said. Back in May of 2008, Obama addressed an Oregon crowd about being responsible homeowners, noting that "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times..." Obama said. "That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added. NBC's report even showed a hand pushing a thermostat to well past 72 degrees.
NBC's Williams did remember to take a backhand swipe at George W. Bush, however, saying, "So far in this White House, the work has taken precedence over what to wear."
ABC World News Tonight's report on "the White House Obama-style," as Charles Gibson introduced it, was a study in unintended consequences. Tapper described the president's day in loving detail, noting that he listens to the music of rapper Jay Z while he pumps iron. But would the Great Uniter admit to listening to Jay Z after hearing what the rapper said about his predecessor just the week before? "You can keep ya ****, I don't want no more Bush / no more war, no more Iraq, no more white lies, my president is black!" Jay Z rapped on stage at an inaugural party.
Then there was Obama's breakfast. "Now off the campaign trail, the president is joined by his kids for a healthier breakfast in the residence," Tapper said, describing a menu of hard boiled eggs, wheat toast, bacon and/or oatmeal. But that's not what the camera shows. On screen, Obama is tucking into waffles at a table laden with home fries, bacon and butter.
Tapper noted that presidents pay for their own food and that President Bush "warned President Obama, he'd be surprised by that first grocery bill." However, since the Obamas are bringing their own personal chef to the White House from Chicago, superseding the chef already on staff, they're probably not going to trouble over the cost of the president's "herbal tea, trail mix and guacamole."
Matt Philbin is managing editor of CMI. Erin Brown is a CMI intern.