Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Misoverestimating Barack Obama

Newsweek's Howard Fineman went on Laura Ingraham's show yesterday and just about admitted that Newsweek blew its coverage of the election. You can listen to the audio here and Newsbusters has the transcript. Newsweek ran cover story after cover story about how wonderful and special Barack Obama was. Hillary Clinton and John McCain couldn't catch a break, but the Obamas got the halo treatment. Laura pressed him on their slobbering coverage of Obama during the election and Fineman had no answer.
INGRAHAM: How is it though with all these smart people at Newsweek – I went around the block with Evan Thomas about this as well. How did you all think that a guy who basically went from the Harvard Law Review, to some community leafleting, organizing, whatever you want to call it, to a short stint, a few lectures about constitutional law at [the University of] Chicago, very short stopover in the state Senate, and a very short stopover in the U.S. Senate. How does that add up to experience to run the biggest economy and the biggest military in the world? And why wasn’t Newsweek, instead of doing these celebrified covers of Michelle and Barack as historic, and celebrity culture, and all this love-love-love-love-love, why wasn’t – Why weren’t those questions asked before this election took place? Because to me, those were the questions to ask. . It wasn’t about personality. It was about experience and outlook.

FINEMAN: Well, uh, first, I’ll plead nolo [contendere] on a lot of this. But –
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INGRAHAM: That’s what he did, in the U.S. Senate. He voted present. So you’re voting present for Newsweek.

FINEMAN: No, no. Part of the problem is, or part of the reason is that we – as political reporters, we become enamored with the mechanics of the campaign, and I would still insist that –
Ingraham saw right through the admire-your-mechanics trope:
INGRAHAM: You’re gonna do that if Paul Ryan is the nominee, for the Republicans? You’re gonna celebrify him? I don’t think so.

FINEMAN: No, no. Let me back up for a second. That was – Whatever you say about Barack Obama and David Axelrod in your diaries and everything --


FINEMAN – It was a brilliantly run campaign. And I have come to despair of the notion of the relationship between the quality and shrewdness of a campaign that someone runs and the kind of presidency that they have.
When Ingraham joked that Lady Gaga is good at branding, too, Fineman added; “We were mystified and mesmerized by the quality of the branding campaign that was Obama’s.”
So there is Howard Fineman admitting that he was totally deceived in how to approach the campaign. In fact, he comes right out and admits that he didn't realize how ideological Obama was at the expense of doing what was politically smart.
He consciously at the beginning set himself up as a kind of counterpoint to Reagan. Remember he said he admired Reagan and Hillary got all upset at him admiring Reagan? What Obama admired about Reagan was not his philosophy, or his program, but the fact that Reagan was an inflection point in history, was a big sea change in history. I believe Obama views himself in that way, and that’s why he went for the big health-care bill, and the big stimulus, and all the other big bills to make history, because he felt he would be the anti-Reagan. But I missed – I have to admit I miss half of what I cover when I’m out there. I thought Obama was shrewder than that, and wouldn’t use all of his political capital in the way he did, and it’s hurt him.
So much for using the political campaign's brilliance to predict political brilliance as a president.

I realize that no one reads Newsweek any more, but Howard Fineman is still out there writing his stuff and appearing on MSNBC to spread his clueless analysis. I predict that when Newsweek finally goes under, Fineman will find a job somewhere in the MSM. And this will be his calling card - he totally miscovered the election and misoverestimated Barack Obama. That makes him the perfect match for any job in the MSM.


bobdog said...

It wasn't exactly that Obama was hard to see through. A lot of us - millions of us nobodies - knew EXACTLY what Obama was going to do before he was elected. How is it that Fineman and the rest of the luminaries of journalism, people who should know better, got it so wrong? It's not like it took any deep analysis.

Obama's agenda was so obvious, so transparent, that anybody who was paying attention could see him coming. Just like we could see the result of - and the real reasons for - the Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, the bank bailouts, the auto industry bailouts, the union paybacks, the mortgage credit, healthcare, and now amnesty push. It's not hard, and perhaps 60% of all voters can see right through it.

Why career journalists can't see what is so patently obvious to the Great Unwashed is one of the great mysteries of American journalism. The country is on life support, and the negligence of the media is a large part of the reason why.

tfhr said...


Your assessment of the media's role in the current condition of the United States is exactly right.

Our "Fourth Estate" has been failing to do its job - report objectively - since the 1960's and in a world where media influence has shifted from print to a growing reliance on glitz and sound bites to win the ratings war, the impact of bias and weak reportorial skills has been on the increase.

“We were mystified and mesmerized by the quality of the branding campaign that was Obama’s.”, said Fineman. Aside from the fact that we can see that Fineman was blinded by skin deep perception, racial bias, and partisan prejudice, that admission of failure shows that people that have risen to such heights of "importance" in the media as Howard Fineman, need no longer possess either professional objectivity or a willingness to even exercise the rudimentary skills required to perform as a journalist, in the eyes of their contemporaries. Fineman should never refer to himself as a journalist again. He can continue to be a hack, an Obama flack, or an editorialist if he wants but his work in that vein has led Newsweak to its current net worth of $1. MSNBC isn't doing much better; neither is much of the rest of the country.

We're all concerned about the current quality of public education in the United States but even if one graduates from an American high school, can actually read, and more amazingly, has the inclination to follow current events and take an interest in government, politics, and policy, what chance does the average person have in finding useful information within actual MSM output?

Bachbone said...

Well...we can believe either that Fineman and his colleagues didn't see through Obama's shtick, in which case they are dumber than that Pet Rock in the back of the bottom drawer of my desk, or they agreed with his shtick, wanted to see him elected so he could put it into effect and slanted their coverage toward that end, in which case Fineman is now lying through his leftist teeth in hopes of salvaging some shred of honor most American 'journ-o-lists' lost long ago. Ingraham's questioning clearly shows which it is. I can't wait to hear the squeals from the MSM when the one of the president's czars decides the First Amendment needs to be limited, because 'journ-o-lists' at last decide to criticize something one of their fellow czars did.

Stan said...

Howard couldn't see because he was distracted by the stars in his eyes, the pounding of his heart, and the thrill up his leg.

Pat Patterson said...

It helps Pres Obama's reputation to not mention the fact that the polls were almost in a dead heat and then the economy blew up a mere 30 days before the election. I would wager that had a lot more to do with a Democrat win then any actual issue that was floated and then floated away when no longer useful.

pumping-irony said...

Gosh, his explanation is basically that he and the rest of the MSM are incompetent and that when it really counts, the MSM can't tell it's butt from a hole in the ground. I guess that's why fewer and fewer people are reading and/or watching. Why bother to pay for clueless incompetence when folks could do their own bad analysis for nothing? Yep, good job, Fineman. $1 for Newsweak (sic)? Harman overpaid.