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FIRST-PERSON: More evidence of media bias

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–A majority in the American mainstream media have what amounts to an adolescent crush on President Obama. How do I know? It is because most media members have shown an amazing ability to overlook or ignore his misstatements and verbal gaffes.

Adolescent adoration is characterized by copious grace. The object of affection is viewed in the best of all possible lights. Any and all imperfection is simply overlooked or ignored.

Think back to the first crush you ever experienced. You were totally fixated on the object of your affection. He or she was the hunk or hunkette of your dreams.

At dinner time, you wrote the name of your beloved in the mashed potatoes. You spelled their name with your alphabet soup. You scrawled your sweetie-pie’s name all over your school book cover. In your eyes, he or she was the epitome of perfection.

Previous conservative politicians did not enjoy nearly as much media grace. Who can forget Vice-president Dan Quayle’s “potato incident.” It was not only magnified beyond reason, but was also taken completely out of context.

The media had a field day with President George W. Bush’s verbal gaffes. His colorful phraseology often drew more media scrutiny than the substance of his speeches. In fact, dozens of websites dedicated to so-called “Bushisms” still litter cyberspace.

Over the years, survey after survey has shown that journalists personally favor Democrats.

In 2005, the University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy polled 300 journalists nationwide, asking them who they voted for in the 2004 election. The results: 52 percent for John Kerry and 19 percent for George W. Bush, and 21 percent refused to say.

Similarly, a handful of New York Times reporters in July 2004 conducted an unscientific sampling of 153 reporters and asked who they favored. The reporters inside Washington favored Kerry 12 to 1, and the ones outside Washington backed Kerry 3 to 1.

President Obama’s verbal missteps — as both a candidate and as president — have not been subject to the same media scrutiny as were his Republican predecessors.

In May 2007, then Senator Obama said. “In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died — an entire town destroyed.” While an entire town was destroyed, the actual death toll was 12.

While campaigning in Oregon in May 2008, Obama said, “Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.” You’d think this would rate right up there with the misspelling of potato in the eyes of the media, but it didn’t.

The crush many in the media have on President Obama prevents them from accentuating any of his negatives.

On Aug. 19, the president told an audience of Democratic activists, “There is something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up!”

“Wee-weed up”? President Obama was reacting to polls, pundits and “cable chatter” suggesting that his efforts at health insurance reform are in trouble.

What does “wee-weed up” even mean? Perhaps the president was speaking French. Maybe he was misquoted and he actually said, “oui-ouied up” (for the monolingual, “oui” means “yes” in French). It doesn’t make any more sense, but it is at least a bit more sophisticated.

According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, “wee-wee” is a childish term for urination. If this is was the denotation President intended, I still don’t understand what he was trying to convey.

Was “wee-weed up” intended as a euphemism for wetting one’s pants? Did the president really mean to say that polls, pundits and cable commentators are just wetting their pants when they point out his effort at health insurance reform is in trouble?

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained it this way, “Wee-weed up is when people just get all nervous for no particular reason.” Still, it just doesn’t seem very presidential or the least bit urbane.

A Pew Research poll released Sept. 13 suggested that 50 percent of Americans think the press is liberal — a nine point increase over 1985. Only 22 percent think it is conservative.

There has been absolutely no media stir over the president’s use the phrase “wee-weed up.” And I’m left to wonder how much of a dither the media would be in if a conservative politician had used such a childish phrase in any context, much less in an effort to chide his or her critics.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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