2009: Rants of the Right

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  December 22, 2009


Bernard Goldberg,A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media
184 pages, Regnery Press, January 26, 2009
Highest Position Reached on NYT Best Seller List: No. 2
Readability: 5
Digestibility: 1
Crazy Factor: -1
Overall Score: 5

It may be true, as Bernard Goldberg posits, that "supposedly objective reporters" acted en masse "blatantly as full-fledged advocates of one side" in covering the presidential election contest between Barack Obama and John McCain, and that "in 2008, the mainstream media crossed the line" and "were not satisfied merely being partisan witnesses to history."

However, you will find no evidence of it in Goldberg's silly, tendentious book on the topic.

Goldberg must know that he doesn't have the goods. His first concrete examples of journalists abandoning their ethics are attributed to such highly regarded political programs as The Oprah Winfrey Show and The View, which I take as a confession that he couldn't even pretend to find any actual journalists who fit this description.

If indeed the presidential election cycle featured an incredible, blatant bias oozing constantly from purportedly objective journalists, one would imagine the examples would be piled in thick stacks upon the desk of the man who makes his living chronicling that phenomenon. Reporters like the New York Times' Adam Nagourney, CBS News's Cynthia Bowers, CNN's Dana Bash, USA Today's Jill Lawrence, the Associated Press's Beth Fouhy, the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, the Washington Post's Dan Balz, the Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten — just to name a few off the top of my head — each filed hundreds of reports during the presidential campaign cycle. Wouldn't you start there, rather than with Whoopie and Winfrey?

Most of the examples of "bias" in ASlobbering Love Affair are of openly opinionated commentators expressing opinions — a practice performed by at least as many Charles Krauthammers and Bill O'Reillys as by Rachel Maddows and Frank Riches. What few specific charges Goldberg makes of straight reporting crossing the line are well-worn, and were widely criticized at the time: the New York Times' insinuation of a McCain affair with a lobbyist, for example, or MSNBC's use of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann as election-night anchors.

But the bulk of Goldberg's gripe concerns what the mainstream media allegedly underplayed — namely, William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. According to the book's index, 43 of its 173 pages discuss "Obama, Barack — alliances with radicals." To me, that says less about the media's coverage than about Goldberg's wildly disproportionate obsession with Ayers and Wright. (A trait he shares with all the other top-selling conservative authors of 2009.)

One would be tempted to take A Slobbering Love Affair as proof that there was no widespread journalistic bias in favor of Obama. But that would give Goldberg too much credit. He did no research for this book; everything in it could have been recited by anyone who regularly watched Fox News and read National Review Online during the campaign. I seriously doubt he so much as held a copy of the Times in his hands during the two-year cycle. The mainstream media may have been slobbering, but Goldberg wasn't paying enough attention to know.

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  Topics: Books , Michael Dukakis, Barack Obama, Bill O'Reilly,  More more >
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