The topic of Obama’s media coverage has sparked numerous debates in several media houses in America. Many of these arguments have taken a comparative study between the previous regimes, for instance the Bush and Clinton reign. A comprehensive research has been carried out and divided into three categories. First was to establish if the media has been biased, secondly is to identify whether the media has taken a neutral stand and thirdly to establish if the media has taken a negative view. Lastly, if the said research has been biased. It’s imperative to note that the American media since the presidential campaigns in two thousand and eight has been in favor of president Obama.
Positive, negative neutral or biased coverage
The media is expected to be fair and balanced but it is said to have grossly deviated from such norms. The gravity of the allegations of bribery was stated but none has so far been proved; hence confrontations and blame has been levied on the media houses up to the casting of the ballot when the democrat candidate took an early lead. The media was labeled biased in its opinion polls even before the polls. The swearing into office of president Obama was highly captured by the media and accordingly the media had no option except covering the event for the sake of their faithful viewers and listeners. It would be unreasonable to suggest or imagine less coverage of such an event since it would have had a negative commercial effect on the media further the fear of being termed the governments enemy couldn’t be ruled out at that stage (Calmes, p.40).
The only option seen as the last resort was to sufficiently cover such an event. It is without doubt to state that what happened in the campaigns was reflected in the white house when Obama took office. This reflection by American media serves as a great detriment to America and the consequences are felt by the citizens who mainly rely on the media for first hand information. If the media feeds its respondents with one-sided stories it means that the truth will be kept hidden. The only unfairness is to have the media which purports to be neutral and independent but instead it turns out to be the fourth arm of the government (Obama, p.47).
The media seemed to have given the Obama’s administration a positive coverage from the first day in office in what they famously called the hundred days in office. A policy started by the former American president Roosevelt who measured his achievement from the first day in power up to the hundredth day. Compared to Clinton and Bush the Obama administration received a positive tone from the media. Editors are said to have positively covered Obama’s government as early as the first hundred years in office. Media was said to give Obama, by then a democratic presidential candidate, more coverage than his republican counterpart John Mcain.This criticisms were strongly hurled on almost all media houses but much of the criticism was directed towards CNN (Phillips, P. 12).
However, many media houses can defend their positive image by stating that president Obama took power when America was experiencing tough economic crisis which president Obama seems to keenly take interest and positive response which was not the case in nineteen ninety nine when Clinton came into power and the two thousand and one during the Bush regime. What appeared as a bad time for Obama to come into power gave him the admiration of the media.
There is no doubt that the popular nature of Obama than his predecessor has made him more irresistible by the media. His eloquence, charisma and sensitivity to the felt needs of the majority population of Americans. The low and unfavorable coverage of President Bush gave Obama a savior admiration. Its should be remembered that Obama had to set aside some of his policies to build the image of America in the outside world which included the closure of the Guatanamo Bay and improving the American relation with the Arab world and more specifically the Iraq issue. Obama’s move to withdraw American troops from Iraq to let the Iraq people form their government was highly welcomed by both American and Arabic media (Ahrens, P.8).
No wonder his favored coverage has been based on his policies and the mere believe that he is a symbol of change because he is the first black American president. Media bias has been said to be one of the greatest contributor of Obama’s victory. For instance, it has been alleged that Obama is a smoker but the mainstream media has never stated that in their news. The mainstream media has been blamed for handling Obama with kids gloves instead of perceiving him like any other politician who makes promises and can later break them. The independent investigative role of journalists is being quickly replaced by a worshipful media (King, p.54).
Such biased coverage can be traced from the forty two million dollars on budget set for Bush inauguration. This was criticized by the media bitterly but when such amount was set for the Obama’s inauguration it seemed to be accepted by the media and the media did not raise a finger to question that act; while during the time of the Bush he was said to remind the American population of the French extravagant Lois XVI.
We can not sit and wish away this partisan news presentation while it’s rumored that a photographer in Times Magazine works for both the magazine and for the white house. Such conflict of interest in the media will always lead to news being one-sided.
The once respected voice of the needy and the opposition during the past regimes has now changed into a praising tool of the government. Still in the same economic crisis, troops still in Iraq and the rarely talked of Guatanamo bay Issue is pending.(Phillips, P.61).
There seems to have been a love affair between the press and Obama. In fact one journalist is said to have said that he had seen many presidents but he couldn’t find fault in president Obama and he didn’t know anyone who hates Obama. The Whitehouse is criticized for choosing the journalists to ask questions in a press conference. The pro-government journalists are selected while others are left (Philips, p. 64).
On a critical point like the May first killing of Osama Bin Laden, the mainstream media wasted its time to promote its partial news reporting when they kept showing how the killing of Osama would boast Obamas popularity. The media ought to have looked at that invasion of Pakistan as a serious breach of international law since that was a direct interference with another country’s sovereignty which will for sometime affect the relationship between America and Pakistan. Furthermore the media should have cautioned the honorary American citizens of the dangers of a terrorist threat by Al Qaeda in a move to revenge the death of their leader. Obama is enjoying a messiah treatment in Whitehouse and he must have learned the essential use of media in politics. He seems more smart instead of using force to get their support he instead manipulates them by inviting them for dinner. For maintenance of checks and balances in any country, the government must respect the vibrant role of the press. This marriage of the press by the state can not facilitate a healthy state (Calmes, p.44).
Despite the major criticism against the mainstream media, the first hundred days contained in depth analyses of the issues ahead of the Obama’s presidential road. For instance, Fox news fully covered the hundred days in office in office by showing the priorities and the challenges facing the Obama’s administration. The BBC world service seemed to make a neutral analysis by conducting an opinion poll to show the high hopes of the American relations being improved. The passing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was impartially covered with factual details on how the Act would help in American economic crisis. It is important to state that at this point the media sufficiently covered the events in a more analytical way to give an educative role which assures a grain of hope in a neutral media (Reid, p.77).
The passing of the States Children Health Insurance Program also was faced with much scrutiny by the mainstream media. The direct comparison given of the earlier regimes health care programs portray less partisan mass media. Furthermore, the Led Better law which erupted into major controversies was also considered in its distinct stages before it was passed into law.The media has also taken a fore role to capture the Iraq issue putting a reminder on the Obama administration that the withdrawal of the American troops from the Iraq was to take part during the first hundred days of his coming into power a thing which Obama administration is depicted by the media as shifting the goal posts to be able to convince American citizens that they have not failed. At this point we consider the act of the New York Times to cover the one hundred days achievement in a five days series containing a substantial framework of what was promised within the hundred days and so far what has been achieved (Reid, p. 79). The few neutral media coverage has been seen as a drop of water in a sea considering the coverage of the ABC channel which has been dubbed “All Barrack channel” since the channel seems to have mainly taken a side of being pro Obama in all aspects which leaves the listener with a nagging question of whether the Obama government is all that perfect(MSNBC.com, Para 4).
When the prices of gas in U.S were going up during the Bush regime the media was very active in its criticism but a time like today when the gas prices are soaring high no meaningful scrutiny is taking place and the media has feigned blindness hence causing all levels of inference to be drawn on the exact role of the media. The media while pretending to be liberal has tried to paint the obamas regime as facing a hard task hence playing and negotiating the role seeking sympathetic perception. Just like telling Americans to understand that the government cannot deliver since it is in a can’t-help situation. The media is portraying the Obama administration as helpless as per the circumstances. Lots of strong sentiments have been put forward calling the Obama administration a manipulator of the media. The sad story is that the mainstream media has been crippled and hence giving the Obama governmenment a chance to not only control the media houses but also divide and rule them. We finally experience the shifting blame game between the different media houses. On the reality part of it, the citizens are forced to watch a media with two sides not knowing which side to support (Calmes, p.49).
Still shocked of how the Israel prime minister visited white house and left unmentioned. If the coverage was prohibited the media should have reported that to their listeners but of course it would have changed the view that the government has on the media; a thing that the media could not have risked doing. They prefer breaching their relationship with the listeners rather than reporting what the government doesn’t approve. A decision is already made that if there is a conflict between the government and the interests of the citizens who are the listeners the government’s interest is to prevail. To be critical enough, the much appraised tea demonstration coverage has presented a temptation to the effect that the media is unbiased but the twist awakes great surprise when we learn that the founder of the organization is a great ally of president Obama. It now leads to a very interesting conclusion of the media being the fourth branch of the government (Calmes, p.52).
President Obama seems to have gone against the very principles of freedom of speech and the independence of the media ideas he advocated for. Maybe they were sweet words said to win the audience and in turn translate into votes. During his campaign trail he used the press conferences, a thing expected to be reciprocated after him taking office but it took everyone by surprise when he cut the conferences and begun selecting the journalists allowed to ask questions prior to him allowing such conferences. In the recent gay rights demonstration which took part in the white house neighbourhood, the police were seen chasing the journalists and the reporters a thing not evident in the past. The lack of transparency and the move to suppress media coverage is very new. Is the media trying to make whatever the Obama administration does right? The truth is if such an event occurred during the Bush days there would be much said. The media has been used and abused by the Obama administration and it doesn’t surprise anyone when the government passed laws to shamelessly prohibit and to fully limit the press covering the gulf oil spilling (Obama, p. 35).
Propaganda by the media about the recovery program has been aimed at showing not only that the program is effective but how it has already reached the recovery point. This is a great lie because the media impresses the government on a program which is on its knees. The recession is greatly felt and it’s an insult to the American population to feed them with lies of economic recovery while the situation on ground is pathetic and unbearable. President Obama seems to have smartly mastered some rules to play by for instance he followed the protocols of inviting the media at Oval office. His invitations to the press were to create a picture of transparency which is not there in the first place (Obama, p. 26).
The presentation of a global warming research with highlights of the dangerous economic times has been received with much praise and excitement from the usual media. Expected though but it is still unbelievable of how environmental issues were being taken lightly by the media. The major controversies on the impact of global warming should at least have been considered and given the attention they deserve. Presentation of the maps and chats from various government departments was supposed to be given a keen analysis to convey the real situation instead of praising the government’s effort while the effects of the environmental degradation are felt daily. This present confusion as presented by the media is outrageous. Long before the Labor Department released their figures on the jobs created by the government, the mainstream media had given a full coverage of twenty thousand jobs created by the government for the hundred days in office. This figure was highly questioned and when the department made its release, the results couldn’t match the ones earlier released by the press (Ahrens, p. 17).
A strong allegation on the Obama’s administration trying to shift the economic structure into socialism has been ignored by the media intentionally. There has been a new tie between America and China and most importantly with Russsia.Does it means that the media is not aware of such a rumor? Why the loyal silence? The government of president Obama is highly protected and media happens to be the ruthless supporter of the government. Creation of this propaganda and total denial of information can be a time bomb and the effects are tremendous. The recent uprisings in the Arab world have been occasioned by having a media which will not only sieve what to give to their listeners in favor of the government but also defend and follows everything said by the government religiously. The results are devastating and it can take decades or eternity for a country to heal from the impacts of a revolution (Atlas, 248).
Much false hope has been implanted in the minds of the masses on the Obama administration and the media has perfectly enhanced that. After the victory of Obama it was thought to be the end of Iraq like scenarios but we can’t wish that when Libya has been invaded with a clear strategy of removing Gaddaffi from power. The image that the Americans thought was to be improved has grossly been tainted. How does the bad leadership in Libya affect America? It takes the world by surprise when it happens under the watchful eyes of a toothless partisan media. What the media does is to try to sharpen their criticism against another regime while their own regime is not different at all (Phillips, p. 23).
Amidst much debate on the media coverage of president Obama’s rule, facts have beyond doubt proved that to a larger extent the media has positively covered president Obama. It emanates from the campaign trail whereby the media was rumored to have favored him. The role taken by the press to behave as the fourth wing of the government should be condemned and the country should embark on establishing a fair, free and impartial mass media for full realization of progress in the country