Shadow Government

One more thought on the media and Obama

By Christian Brose

From where I sat at the State Department for four-plus years, I would agree with a lot of what Peter Feaver has to say about the general bias and unaccountability of much of the media. [Ah! Thou doth protest too much! Now that you are technically in the media, and a blogger no less, you relish unaccountability, don't you? -- ed. Who asked you? And you're just copying Dan Drezner anyway. Go jump in a lake.]

I would only add one point to Peter's. Another sin of the media that bothered me while in government was their attempt to create wider narrative arcs for public figures than were warranted. By that I mean, when someone was naturally riding high, the media's coverage always lifted him (or her) higher. This was not done out of bias, I felt, but more out of an expectation that a fall would come sooner or later, and it would be a far better story if that person were falling from a greater height. And sure enough, when the inevitable descent began, the media always seemed to make the lows of it that much lower. Again, it wasn't so much bias that drove this as an author's desire to see more drama in a story.

It will be interesting to watch whether and how this theory applies to Obama. He is politically near the top of the world right now as it is, and yet much of the media have managed to lift him even higher still. One assumes there is nowhere for him to go but down, and judging by the history of the presidency, events will pull him in that direction sooner or later. I'm not lining up with Rush Limbaugh here, just stating a fact of politics that I imagine even Obama may not be able to change. I wonder whether the media will heighten the drama if the shine comes off their star -- or try instead to overlook it and polish it up.

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