Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: The Post and "the most
disliked president since polling began in the 1930s" via Salon: Glenn
Greenwald by Glenn Greenwald on 11/2/08
In February, 2007, David Broder -- the Dean of the Washington Press
Corps -- announced that "President Bush is poised for a political
comeback" and "is demonstrating political smarts that even his critics
have to acknowledge." Today, his own paper, The Washington Post,
documented how painfully wrong that was, that George Bush's presidency
is one of the greatest failures in all of American history, and he is
so widely despised that he dare not show his face in public for fear of
further hurting his party's nominee:

Even for a declared optimist, Bush has appeared remarkably sanguine in
this season of discontent. The economy is melting down, his own party
has shunned him, and Tuesday's election is shaping up as a searing
rebuke to his eight years in office. . . . "Everybody kind of wanted to
spend the last 100-plus days doing some legacy things, and the
financial crisis has thrown a wrench into that," said one prominent
Republican who regularly talks with senior White House officials. "You
have a combination of no legacy stuff, a horrible economic mess and the
likelihood that Obama is going to win," this person added. "There is a
real sadness there." None of this would matter, of course, if not for
Bush's deep and abiding unpopularity. Bush has not commanded approval
from a majority of the nation since early 2005, making him arguably the
most disliked president since polling on the question began in the
1930s. A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll last week put Bush's
approval rating at 24 percent and found that McCain had made little
headway in separating himself from Bush or his policies. It's not for
lack of trying. For the first time in recent memory, a sitting
president has effectively sat out the presidential race, avoiding
public appearances on behalf of McCain and other Republicans and
raising far less money than usual in private fundraisers. Bush voted
for McCain by absentee ballot rather than voting in person in Texas, as
he has for the past three elections, and officials say he plans to
spend election night at the White House rather than at a rally or other
campaign-related event. . . . "This is unprecedented for a president to
be this invisible during a campaign," said Charlie Cook, editor of the
nonpartisan Cook Political Report. "This is what happens when you have
a 25 percent approval rating."

George Bush is the person in whom the Right placed its blind faith, the
one they glorified and held up as the ultimate standard-bearer of what
they believe in. And now he -- and they -- lay in shambles and
disgrace. No matter what metric one uses, it's difficult to overstate
what a profound failure the Bush presidency is, and everyone --
including Bush -- knows that. The most important aspect of this
Tuesday's election is to finalize their humiliating repudiation and to
bury them for what they've done.

Despite all of that, The Washington Post's Ombudsman, Deborah Howell,
today wrote a column claiming that one reason that The Post and other
papers are losing money is because they are "too liberal"; have
had "more favorable stories about Barack Obama than John McCain,"
and "conservatives are right that they often don't see their views
reflected enough in the news pages." To mitigate newspapers' financial
problems, Howell decrees: "the imbalance still needs to be corrected."
She adds: "Neither the hard-core right nor left will ever be satisfied
by Post coverage -- and that's as it should be."

What if the actual facts -- i.e., "reality" -- are consistent with the
views of "the hard-core left" and contrary to the views of
the "hard-core right"? What if, as has plainly been the case, the
conservatives' views are wrong, false, inaccurate? What if the McCain
campaign was failing and relying on pure falsehoods and sleazy attacks,
and The Post's coverage simply reflected that reality? It doesn't
matter. In order to sell more newspapers, according to Howell, The
Post's news coverage must shape itself to the Right and ensure
that "their views [are] reflected enough in the news pages" (I don't
recall Howell complaining when her newspaper -- according to its own
media critic -- systematically suppressed anti-war viewpoints in its
news pages and loudly amplified pro-Bush and pro-war views).

In Howell's view, The Post shouldn't determine its news reporting based
on what is factually true. Instead, it should shape its coverage to
please this discredited, failed political movement -- in order to sell
more papers. That corrupt formula is, of course, what is now meant
by "journalistic balance" -- say what both sides believe and take no
position about what is true -- and it is precisely that behavior which
propped up this incomparably failed and deceitful presidency for so
long. The establishment media bears much of the responsibility for what
has happened during the last 8 years, and amazingly enough, the lesson
many of them seemed to have learned is that they didn't go far enough
("we're too liberal; we need to accommodate the Right more"). If there
is an Obama presidency, watch for them very quickly to re-discover the
long-dormant concept of "adversarial behavior."



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