On Friday, Barack Obama held what might be the last press conference of his presidency, and, if things ran to form, The Nation columnist and What Liberal Media? author Eric Alterman was impressed. As POTUS, Obama has been “the coolest guy in the room,” wrote Alterman in the magazine’s January 2-9 issue. “It didn’t matter what room. He was always able to keep his head while everyone around him was losing theirs—and usually blaming him.”
Alterman acknowledged that Obama “made mistakes, especially in his belated willingness to face up to the mendacity of his opposition. Even so, Obama has proved himself the most consequential liberal president since Franklin Roosevelt…Then there’s the tone he set. As a rhetorician, he was a peer to FDR and John F. Kennedy. As an executive, he presided over eight years without a hint of genuine scandal.”
Who or what, besides Republicans, impeded Obama and his agenda? Alterman blamed “a feckless media establishment that refused to make the most elementary distinctions between truth and falsehood. Was the president born in Kenya? Is he a Muslim? Satan himself? Who can say? Just so long as we give ‘both sides’ a chance to make their case.”
Since the election, there’s been a lot of talk about how elitism, and the backlash against it, affected voting behavior. In Alterman’s telling, the MSM fed that backlash (bolding added):
There’s one factor that has gone overlooked in the election postmortems: the establishment media’s resentment of Obama’s thoughtfulness, his penchant for prudence and deliberation before embarking on any significant course of action. This stigmatization of intellect, I’d argue, helped pave the way for the monstrous manifestation of masculine id now poised to replace him…
Speaking to New Yorker editor David Remnick recently, Obama recalled the uproar over his 2009 comments regarding the idiotic arrest of the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.…In National Review, Heather MacDonald accused Obama of “promoting racial paranoia.” Rush Limbaugh complained that the president was “angry” and “not proud” of his country. Glenn Beck insisted that Obama’s response demonstrated a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” The Senate Republicans launched an online ad campaign asking Americans to vote on whether his comments were “presidential.” And the so-called mainstream media covered this ridiculous food fight by presenting the views of “both sides.”
By relentlessly promoting this kind of false equivalence between truth and bullshit, thoughtfulness and stupidity, the press sowed the seeds of the unimaginable disaster that our country and the world are about to reap in the form of Donald Trump’s presidency.