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Our Fourth Estate Is A Bunch Of Cowards

If you want to know why voters just rewarded six years of bad behavior, look no further than the New York Times and other press outlets.
Our Fourth Estate Is A Bunch Of Cowards
Image from: Media Matters

I've ranted about this six ways from Friday, so I thought maybe it would be better to let Eric Boehlert pick it up where I've left off. In his article appropriately titled Obstruction and How the Press Helped Punch the GOP's Midterm Ticket, he takes on all of the establishment media for letting the two year olds have their way instead of imposing some sort of factual discipline on them.

So after six years of radical, blanketed reticence from the GOP, we're still repeatedly reading in the New York Times that while Republicans have put up road blocks, if Obama would just try harder, Republicans might cooperate with him. You can almost hear the frustration seeping through the pages of the Times: 'What is wrongwith this guy? Bipartisanship is so simple. Republicans say they want to work with the White House, so why doesn't Obama just do it?'

Indeed, cooperation is simple if you purposefully ignore reality--if you downplay the fact the Republican Party is acting in a way that defies all historic norms. If you adopt that fantasy version of Beltway politics today (i.e. the GOP is filled with honest brokers just waiting to work with the White House), then it's easy to dissect the problems, and it's easy to file both-sides-are-to-blame columns that urge bipartisan cooperation.

What's trickier, apparently, is speaking truth to power and accurately portraying what has happened to American politics and noting without equivocation that the sabotage that has occurred is designed to ensure the federal government doesn't function as designed, and that it cannot efficiently address the problems of the nation.

And this week, it all paid off for Republicans. "Obstruction has just been rewarded, in a huge way," wroteMichael Tomasky at The Daily Beast.

Led by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republicans vowed in 2009 to oppose every political move Obama made, not matter how sweeping or how minor. "To prevent Obama from becoming the hero who fixed Washington, McConnell decided to break it. And it worked," wrote Matthew Yglesias at Vox, in the wake of the midterm election results. New York's Jonathan Chait made a similar observation about McConnell: "His single strategic insight is that voters do not blame Congress for gridlock, they blame the president, and therefore reward the opposition."


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But why? Why don't voters blame Congress for gridlock?

Why would the president, who's had virtually his entire agenda categorically obstructed, be blamed and not the politicians who purposefully plot the gridlock? Because the press has given Republicans a pass. For more than five years, too many Beltway pundits and reporters have treated the spectacular stalemate as if it were everyday politics; just more "partisan combat." It's not. It's extraordinary. (See here, here, here, here, here,here, here, and here.)

It's hard for me to get worked up over the few areas where reporters are chasing the truth -- the NSA stories, etc -- when they completely ignore the issues that hit voters closest to home and pretend that if Obama just cooperated harder everything would be just fine.

Nothing is fine. Republicans broke it, they own it, and they're not going to fix it. Nor will they be expected to, because they've got a fine press corps out there waiting to run interference for them.

In the coming months, Republicans will work very hard at doing nothing. They will continue to obstruct and obfuscate and the press will let them. Chuck Todd will lead off Meet the Press with commentary about how the lack of cooperation between the White House and the Congress can be laid at the uppity Administration's feet, while he concern trolls over the most minute details of whatever the Scandal of the Week is.

As will the rest of them. Chuck isn't all that different from his peers. And in 2016, we will all hear campaigns about how the eight-year nightmare of terror that is the Obama administration is coming to a close, while no one actually tells the truth at a national level.

This is what happens when you put corporate toadies in positions intended for braver souls. They just toady. Truth is buried in the bottom line.

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