Reporters have repeatedly portrayed Barack Obama as a deficit hawk committed to "slashing" spending, as MRC Research Director Rich Noyes documented in April ahead of the president's much-anticipated budget speech.
While the media touted Obama's budget blueprint, which contained puny cuts, as "deeply painful," CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told Congress the president's framework lacked sufficient detail to be scored as a credible plan.
Since then, Obama still hasn't revealed a serious plan to cut spending, yet correspondents continue to paint the president as a budget cutter.
Chief New York Times “Caucus” blog writer Michael Shear hosted the latest edition of the paper’s “Caucus” podcast (there's no direct link) Friday, where he, political reporter Jeff Zeleny, and White House reporter Mark Landler agreed that Republican candidate Michele Bachmann was wrong to dismiss concerns about possible financial consequences resulting from a failure to raise the debt ceiling.
About four and a half minutes from the end, Landler took side in the budget-cutting battle, emphasizing how far Obama had come toward the Republican position with “very significant cuts,” and sympathized with the president’s “frustration” over the “unreasonable” “intransigence of the Republicans.”
President Obama’s budget blueprint may have been unanimously rejected by Congress in late May, but suddenly the president is the courageous, ambitious one on budget talks after issuing new rhetoric indicating a willingness to make cuts in social programs like Medicare.
In his Sunday front-page story, “House Speaker Is Pulling Back On Deficit Deal – $4 Trillion Plan Stalls Over Tax Increase,” congressional reporter Carl Hulse (pictured) continued to shade his own word choices in a pro-Democratic direction. Though the headline accurately stated that the stumbling block in negotiations are Democratic calls for a “tax increase,” Hulse reliably avoided the unpopular phrase in his report. The text box also underlined the idea of Obama the risk-taker: “An attempt at something big that some Republicans found too big.”
New York Times’s White House reporter Mark Landler provided puffball coverage of Vice President Joe Biden, who has evidently “overcome his reputation for gaffes” (says who?), in “Obama’s Growing Trust in Biden Is Reflected in His Call on Troops” Saturday. Landler emphasized the increasing confidence Biden is inspiring at the White House.
Obama’s "deliberate, almost scholarly" approach to foreign policy may be obtaining mixed results at best, but New York Times reporter Mark Landler trumpeted the White House line that the killing of Osama bin Laden would enable Obama to "reset" American policy in the Arab world: "Obama Seeks Reset in Arab World – Speech Likely to Put Bin Laden’s Death in Context of Uprisings." After years of falsely deriding President Bush as an incurious cowboy set on "going it alone" in foreign policy, the Times finds Obama's "immersion" in liberal journo-think (like Times columnist Tom Friedman) a welcome sign of "scholarly" pragmatism.
For President Obama, the killing of Osama bin Laden is more than a milestone in America’s decade-long battle against terrorism. It is a chance to recast his response to the upheaval in the Arab world after a frustrating stretch in which the stalemate in Libya, the murky power struggle in Yemen and the brutal crackdown in Syria have dimmed the glow of the Egyptian revolution.
Thursday’s New York Times led with Obama’s partisan budget speech, “Taking On G.O.P., Obama Unveils Debt Relief Plan – Calls for Spending Cuts and Tax Increases but Spares Medicare and Medicaid,” and once again did a double-standard dance around the politically inflammatory issue of changes in Medicare spending when proposed by a Democratic president.
While previous attempts at reform of Medicare by Republicans were eviscerated in the Times as “big Medicare cuts” or (just this week) a “shrinking” of the program, the paper greeted Obama’s own vague proposals with benign, soothing words like “overhaul” or claims that Obama was merely looking for Medicare “savings.” Thursday’s headline insisted Medicare and Medicaid would be “spared” and the text by reporters Mark Landler and Michael Shear described Obama as only proposing “changes to social welfare programs” and to “strictly limit the growth of Medicare and Medicaid.”
Bowing to reality, President Obama has officially reneged on a campaign promise to his base, reversing a previous decision on detainees at Guantanamo Bay that will keep the prison camp for terrorists open indefinitely. It made the front page of Tuesday’s Washington Post but was buried near the back of the New York Times that day, on page 19: “Obama, in Reversal, Clears Way for Guantanamo Trials to Resume.”
Reporters Scott Shane and Mark Landler rounded up some suspiciously sympathetic quotes from left-wing figures, or as the Times calls them, “civil rights advocates," either cutting Obama some slack or even finding bright spots in the decision.