Once President Obama secured a second term last November, he faced a new challenge – how would his relationship evolve with the media. Thanks to places like the Media Research Centre, there is concrete proof that news outlets like CNN, MSNBC, ABC, New York Times etc. were anything from extremely protective to just promoting the President in a favourable light during the election and his first term – But how long would this continue for? America seems to be permanently in an election cycle. When looking forward to 2016, even the liberal media admit the Republicans have a deep bench with names like Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, Susana Martinez, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Jim DeMint and not to mention big names like Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain etc. But who have the democrats got? Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and….. Anybody’s guess. The dark horse to watch here is Julian Castro. Can the media continue to protect Obama while looking to the future and start to build up a profile for a 2016 run?
However, there is a more immediate question, 2014 – what happens if the economy still stinks, gas prices are still around $3.50 / $4.00 a gallon and the Senate is in danger of becoming Republican. Would the media still stand by the president? Or would the media focus more on the Centrist agenda and let Obama fall on his sword if need be? This could be the ultimate test for the relationship between President Obama and the media. President Obama’s second term is now nearly five months old. It would not be unfair to say, he could not have envisaged a worse start to his second term – gun control failed, immigration reform is hanging on by a thread, economic news that is mixed at best and Obamacare still being debated. Added to this, the administration is locked in scandal with the now forgotten fast and furious scandal along with the current Benghazi and IRS scandals. With all of this, logic might dictate the President would be doing everything he can to keep the media sweet. Right??? WRONG….
For all the great coverage, Obama has never really given the media special treatment. He is usually late for press conferences when he gives them, rarely answers many questions and how many exclusives have the mainstream media had with the President in 4 plus years? I can’t remember, but it can’t be many. However the AP scandal and the treatment of Bob Woodward could be a game changer. The Associated Press (AP) regardless of political bias are protected under the first amendment which includes freedom of the press. When you read the story the AP tells of how they were targeted and had 2 months of call records seized, it is frightening and national security is the excuse. However when you read this story from the Washington Post it becomes clear that the seizure was not because of national security, but because of politics. The AP were co-operating with the Obama administration and held the story for five days. However when they refused to let the President break the news, and released the story themselves, they were targeted. The White House are in full cover up mode, but the role of the media is still uncertain.
I can’t imagine how anybody could defend having two months’ worth of calls from over 20 lines in the AP wiretapped as anything but an overuse of power and a violation of the first amendment. I was delighted to see Marco Rubio among others point out on the Senate floor recently that this scandal will have an effect in the future, because people might decide to avoid talking to media over fear over having calls recorded and want to avoid investigation and targeting thus leaving stories untold and government unchecked. Who knows what information the public will be denied over this intrusion? However there is a bigger point to be made about this story and that is the role of the Constitution. The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”.
The reason “right wingers” love the Constitution is because it protects EVERYONE from an over-arching government. The constitution knows no religion, race, age, gender nor political affiliation. The Bill of Rights established certain rights that were inalienable and that could not be taken away. When you start diluting different amendments (like the second on gun control or the tenth on states’ rights) it has a gradual effect on every amendment. You cannot pick and choose which amendments you dilute and which you empower. The constitution is there to protect everybody including the media. Thomas Paine said in Rights of a Man, “A Constitution is not the act of a Government, but of a people constituting a government, and a government without a constitution is a power without right.” I hope the AP scandal wakes the media up and they realize not only that the constitution should be respected, but also that when you have a media who acts likes the Praetorian Guard (hat tip Mark Levin) that the only people who win are those in power, and the people lose. What made America successful in the past and will be critical in it returning to greatness is the role of the people and the individual. The American people made America great, NOT Government.