On Wednesday, Barack Obama will appear on ESPN to announce his picks for the 2011 NCAA tournament. This past Saturday, as the disaster in Japan unfolded, the President found time to, again, play golf. On Tuesday's Special Report, Fox News host Bret Baier highlighted the difference between Obama's treatment and that of President Bush.
Baier quoted from Media Research President Brent Bozell: "If George Bush reacted this way during an international catastrophe -- wholly irrelevant radio addresses, golf outing for the 61st time, the left-wing media would require medically induced sedation to keep them in check."
In an earlier segment, Baier singled out the Bozell quote, but also highlighted Obama himself: "President Obama even joked with reporters Saturday night about his fondness for sport, saying, quote, 'I'm not spending time on the golf course. I'm investing time in the golf course.'"
Speaking of the President's basketball picks, National Review's Jim Geraghty wrote:
Okay, that’s not all he’s doing. “Obama will tape interviews from the Map Room with KOAT Albuquerque, KDKA Pittsburgh and WVEC Hampton Roads on education reform and the need to fix No Child Left Behind.”
Japan faces an almost unparalleled crisis, Libya is in civil war, and we’re having another budget showdown after running up a $222.5 billion deficit in the 28 days of February. And after last week’s bullying summit, Obama is spending this week talking education reform.
A May 26, 2010 Media Reality Check by the MRC's Rich Noyes and Kyle Drennen explained how the networks quickly asserted President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina wasn't strong enough:
In contrast, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast five years ago, the networks waited barely 72 hours to blast the federal response. NBC’s Brian Williams, on the September 1, 2005 Nightly News, channeled the complaints of those who demanded to know: "Why isn’t more being done, and faster?" Over on CBS that night, anchor Bob Schieffer cast the President as "under growing criticism for a slow response," while correspondent John Roberts (now with CNN) touted how "editorial pages across the nation aimed sharp barbs at Mr. Bush."
A transcript of the two MRC mentions can be found below:
BRET BAIER: Meanwhile, ABC News traveling with the President Saturday in the pool reported he hit the links for the second week in a row, quote "Even as his administration and the U.S. military helped Japan recover from a devastating earthquake, the President could not resist taking advantage of the 48-degree weather."President Obama even joked with reporters Saturday night about his fondness for sport, saying, quote, "I'm not spending time on the golf course. I'm investing time in the golf course." Media Research Center President Brent Bozell says, quote, "If George Bush reacted this way during an international catastrophe, wholly irrelevant radio addresses, golf outings for the 61st time, the left-wing media would require medically induced sedation to keep them in check."
BARACK OBAMA: March is women's history month, a time not only to celebrate the progress that women made but also women throughout our history who have immediate that progress possible.
BRET BAIER: That was President Obama, the radio address that's also broadcast on the websites from the White House. And this is the President leaving in the motorcade to go golf on Saturday afternoon. About that, the president of the Media Research Council [sic] said this, "If George Bush reacted this way during an international catastrophe -- wholly irrelevant radio addresses, golf outing for the 61st time, the left-wing media would require medically induced sedation to keep them in check." What about the imaging around the golf, the radio and internet address, the imaging from the White House? We're back with the panel. Mara?
MARA LIASSON: I think this tells us about partisan climate in Washington, because a conservative media critic said that. If George Bush did something like that, the left wing media would say if a Democratic president did that, we'd be beat up. Everybody sees this through their own lens.
This one, I feel on Friday -- first, he has woken up in the middle of the night Friday morning or when the quake hit at 4:00 a.m. or something. He spoke quite emotionally about it on the press conference Friday when asked a question about the Japanese reporter. And the president can communicate on many platforms and many ways. And to me if he wants to play basketball to blow off some steam and stay healthy, I don't have a problem with it. It isn't like he is ignoring it. The U.S. is doing a lot. He explained what we were doing on Friday. You could have another discussion about Libya, which is different, but in terms of the imaging this weekend, I don't have a problem with it.
BAIER: Okay. Golf this weekend? Steve?
STEVE HAYES: I haven't been very critical of him on the golf thing. It is something that some have been, but my view is if the guy needs a four or five-hour break as the president of the United States, he needs a break. I get it. I defended him on that.
What he's doing is insane. The Libya meltdown is part of a broader melt down in the Middle East. You have a possible nuclear problem as we talked about and you've got, you know. And you have budget issues here that are not getting solved, and for which his own party is calling on him to be much more involved and much more hands on.
LIASSON: He can still golf.
HAYES: Really, can he do it from the golf course?
LIASSON: No. He can get involved in the budget debate and show more leadership and still golf on the weekends.
HAYES: Let's say that you are right hypothetically for the sake of argument. What does it say about his image? Whether it's fair or not, I think it's fair, but if you are in Libya and you're going out to fight for your freedom and the president of the United States is not providing a no fly zone and taken nonchalant attitude who is going on there and is out golfing, it sends the wrong message.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.