Obama speaking to the media (Photo/Getty Images)
Well, my media friends, congratulations. You did it again. Your guy is safely re-elected. And the victory must be all the sweeter since you unexpectedly had to work for it.
Back in those heady, Greek-columned days of 2008, you didn’t factor in that a guy in his 40s whose first real job is leader of the free world might have some trouble getting unemployment to recede, let alone the oceans. But thanks to you, we’ll have to wait another four years for the third installment of Obama’s autobiographical saga.
Make no mistake, you guys did yeomen’s service this cycle. The digging (racist rocks at Rick Perry’s remote hunting ranch; 14-yr-old Mitt gave some kid a wedgie? You guys are pros!), the spinning, the logical contortions, the way Axelrod’s mustache tickled – tough work, but it paid off.
And Diamond Dave didn’t give you the easiest of assignments, either. The administration invented a new right to free birth control – one that trumps even the right to religious freedom. When bewildered conservatives expressed discomfort about being on the hook for someone else’s night life, word came from Chicago that the GOP had launched a “war on women.” Parroting that absurdity must have seemed like a fool’s errand initially, but you warmed to the task admirably.
And here’s my favorite: According to exit polling you guys managed to convince 60 percent more voters that Obama “cares about people like me.” So the guy with George Clooney and the editor of Vogue on his speed dial, who shuts down Manhattan for a taxpayer-funded date night, flies in a personal chef from Chicago and has Johnny Depp play his Halloween party – you made the public believe he has that common touch? Bravo!
Now, not to be a wet blanket, but having secured Obama’s success, why not look to your own? There are many important stories out there just waiting to be told – Pulitzer- and Emmy-caliber stories. All that’s needed is for a few of you to kinda, you know, do some actual journalism.
Take Benghazi (ben-ˈgä-zē, a city & port NE Libya, pop 685,000). Something really awful happened there to some Americans recently. No celebrity marriages ended there, but stuff was set on fire, so maybe there’s an environmental angle. And they’ve just made it easier for you, introducing subplots about sex and soldiers behaving badly. Check it out.
How about “Fast and Furious?” (Scandal in which Homeland Security let Mexican drug gangsters buy lots of guns and then forgot to track them until one killed a U.S. Border Patrol agent, not the scandalously bad movies in which Vin Diesel killed the art of cinema.) This story has everything: Violence, tragedy, government malfeasance, dead public servants, dead Mexicans – you could easily make it about gun control or heedless Americans with their appetite for illegal drugs. With a little creativity, you could probably turn it into a brief for the DREAM Act and Cap and Trade. Sky’s the limit!
How about the “green economy” boondoggles. Yeah, I know, snooze-a-roo, right? But it doesn’t have to be. Billions of dollars have been flushed down the low-flow Gore toilet to float the green energy ventures of politically connected rich guys. Sure, they’re not Republicans, but remember, short of impeachment, His Eloquence is now untouchable. So why not try to find out what happened to those “green jobs” he was going to sprinkle across the land like Rip Taylor with a new bag of confetti? Put any spin you want on it: find a craftsman who makes stylish and functional coffee tables out of unsold solar panels. Say that the $529 million U.S. taxpayers gave to Fisker to make the electric Karma (retailing at $122,000) was a goodwill gesture to recognize Finnish contributions to auto engineering.
While we’re on the money issue, some intrepid journalist could take on the whole “Someone spent $18 billion in stimulus and all I got was this lousy 7.9% unemployment rate” issue. Where exactly did all that cash go? And speaking of jobs, real unemployment – you know, the unemployment that counts people so discouraged they’re no longer looking for work – is closer to 15% percent. Presumably at least some of those folks are not so despondent that they’ve unplugged the phone and taken to their crawl spaces. Why not track a couple down, get them to talk about their situations? Maybe encourage them to blame George Bush their plight?
Look, it seems daunting now. Committing an act of journalism might make for some awkward moments in the newsroom. You don’t relish the prospect of cutting yourself off from the glossy bosom of GQ and maybe never realizing your dream of Sunday bagels with David Gregory. (Rumor has it Chris Wallace’s guests get scrapple and Mountain Dew after the broadcast, but before the studio prayer meeting.)
But you can do this. Yes, you’ve been Obama’s Palace Guard so long you’ve forgotten that you’re journalists, but it’s like riding a bike. And if you really do need some refresher courses, take heart: David Axelrod is starting a journalism school!