Team Obama Pleases Pot Smokers, Gay Lobbyists, But AP Won't Call Them Liberal

March 19th, 2009 3:03 PM

Journalists -- starting with Time's Amy Sullivan, the former Tom Daschle aide -- strenously tried to suggest Barack Obama would not be a politician of the libertine left, and could even make a bold play for Bible-quoting evangelical voters. But as the Obama administration kicks into gear, it's getting obvious that the libertine-left side is winning. Reporters just won't call them that. See two recent AP stories.

Devlin Barrett reported that Attorney General Eric Holder is dialing back attempts to raid marijuana distributors where states have medical-marijuana exceptions to their drug laws. Barrett didn't find or identify anyone or anything with a liberal ideology in the story, and never quoted an opponent of marijuana legalization. Pleased libertines were presented in neutral tones:

Kris Hermes, a spokesman for national medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said he welcomed Holder's perspective. "It signals a new direction and a more reasonable and sensible direction on medical marijuana policy," he said.

The New York Times pulled that, too. No labels, no anti-drug spokesman, only quotes for pleased libertines: Graham Boyd of the ACLU and Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance.

The same pattern at AP came in a Matthew Lee story on the Obama administration endorsing a U.N. crusade in favor of homosexuality. Bush was presented as ideological, but reversing Bush is somehow neutral. No one in the story was a "liberal," and no conservative was quoted in rebuttal. Pleased libertines were given the neutral (even positive) appellation of human rights groups or gay rights groups:

The Obama administration on Wednesday formally endorsed a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality, a measure that former President George W. Bush had refused to sign.

The move was the administration's latest in reversing Bush-era decisions that have been heavily criticized by human rights and other groups. The United States was the only western nation not to sign onto the declaration when it came up at the U.N. General Assembly in December....

Gay rights and other groups had criticized the Bush administration when it refused to sign the declaration when it was presented at the United Nations on Dec. 19.

Lee attempted to explain that the Bush adminsitration objected because they were concerned that endorsing the U.N. crusade might "commit the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In some states, landlords and private employers are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; on the federal level, gays are not allowed to serve openly in the military."

The last paragraph came the closest to a critic's opinion, but it would have been far better to let a critic speak:

Some Islamic countries said at the time that protecting sexual orientation could lead to "the social normalization and possibly the legalization of deplorable acts" such as pedophilia and incest. The declaration was also opposed by the Vatican.

The Caucus blog at the New York Times website also aped the AP approach on this subject.