"Liberal" Media's White-Privilege Bias: WaPo/MSNBC's Chris Cillizza Trolls Obama on "Competency"

Is Chris Cillizza jockeying for a job on Fox News?

You've heard it before. Barack Obama - the president who ended two wars, instituted health care reform that encompasses all Americans, realized the most significant financial reform in living history including the country's first ever federal agency dedicated only to consumer finance, managed to disarm a middle eastern tyrant without firing a single shot, took out America's most wanted terrorist that eluded two previous administrations (one Republican, one Democratic), and managed the program that pulled America out of a Second Great Depression with the precision of a surgeon - is... "incompetent."

Because, really, he's black. Look at him. Black = incompetent. Need I say more?

This has long been the meme of the right wing media. Heck, Mitt Romney ran on this theme in 2012 and lost the White House spectacularly. But as usual, memes that start on the far right and cause conservatives to lose the presidency by 100 electoral votes eventually make their way onto the rest of the media, taken  as gospel.

Just as the whole media follows Fox's lead in seeking out the "expert" advice of policymakers who were deadly and disastrously wrong about getting America into the quagmire of Iraq about what to do in Iraq now, if Fox starts a meme about President Obama's "competence problem" (which goes rather nicely with... black! ... don't you think?), you can be sure others in the media will follow - even those that occupy "liberal" corners of news, such as Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, a frequent guest on MSNBC.

In his WaPo blog "The Fix", Cillizza penned a bloviating hitpiece today against President Obama, challenging his - you guessed it - competence. He does so under the guise, of course, of how much President Obama's "incompetence" is hurting the Democratic party.

Almost six years on from that election, however, Obama is faltering badly on the competence question and, in so doing, badly imperiling not only his ability to enact any sort of second term agenda but also Democrats’ chances this fall. A series of events — from the VA scandal to the ongoing border crisis to the situation in Ukraine to the NSA spying program — have badly undermined the idea that Obama can effectively manage the government.
— Chris Cillizza, "The Fix"

We could go through these gratuitous potshots one by one, so let's. The VA scandal, while outrageous, arises out of two primary factors: the Republican sequestration and refusal to fund the veterans' care properly, and the previous administration's war policies which overwhelmed the system. While these issues, not President Obama's management, were the major factors in the VA scandal, the quality of care is quite good even according to the scandal's fiercest critics.

Still, the president didn't sit there blaming his predecessor - which he could have quite reasonably done. He brought new leadership to the VA, and the backlog is being reduced as best possible with Congress still dragging its feet.

But really. Black. Incompetent. It goes so well together. Don't you see?

Then there's Cillizza's deplorable attempt to blame the President for crises that have absolutely nothing to do with American policy - except, perhaps, the broken immigration system that Republicans in Congress refuse to allow a vote on. Perhaps Cillizza needs a lesson in Constitutional government, but the President is not responsible for "managing" the Congress, and blaming Congress' follies on the president is nothing more than trolling masquerading as bad journalism.

The humanitarian crisis on the border or the bloodbath in Ukraine are not crises of Obama's making. Supposedly, in Cilliza's eyes, Obama should have solved gang violence and killing in Central America, and the Russian rebel army in Ukraine. Under what authority, though, is anyone's guess. As I have pointed out in TPV before, Barack Obama is the one reason Russia has finally begun to back off from the forefront of the conflict in Ukraine.

To the extent that American foreign policy is responsible for either of these conflicts, the blame for those too lie squarely at the feet of the conservative movement. The GOP God Ronald Reagan's contra dealings and American conservative economic theory exports to south America that devastated south and Central American economies, helping create today's gang wars. George W. Bush looked into Putin's eyes and saw a trustworthy partner. Republican policies have helped create these crises, and now Republicans cannot be bothered to help with any of it.

And apparently, "liberal" journalists cannot be bothered to learn the truth before moaning loudly about why the black guy isn't fixing all the world's problems all by himself.

If there is one thing that doesn't belong in Cillizza's list, it's the NSA programs. There has never been any "scandal" at the NSA under President Obama. For there to be scandal, there must be violations of the law or the Constitution, or there has to be official corruption. None of that happened with the NSA, at least not under President Obama. That a common thief decided to steal documents, break the trust his country placed in him, and seek the protection of Vladimir Putin does not suddenly make perfectly legal programs a competency problem for the president.

The only thing 'scandalous' about the NSA under Obama is that it's a black guy giving orders to spy on perfect good (white) Americans. Don't you see?

If it weren't enough of journalistic malpractice to blame the President for world events that in no way originated from his administration and perfectly legal intelligence collection efforts while alloweing for exactly zero credit for the transformational changes President Obama did bring, Cillizza predicates his entire whipping boy routine (and yes, I have little doubt that Cillizza would have done no such thing if the Democrat in the White House had skin color closer to his shade than mine) on CNN's cooked poll that was debunked on the very pages of TPV.

The latest evidence is a question in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Sunday that asks whether the phrase “can manage the government effectively” applies to Obama. Just more than four in ten (42 percent) said that it does while 57 percent said it does not.

Yes, because, why wouldn't you trust a poll that says one thing about its sample size and then literally pages letter changes it? Why wouldn't you trust the cooked numbers from a cable news station on the verge of irrelevancy looking to draw attention to itself with "BREAKING NEWS: Plane Still Missing" chyrons? Why wouldn't you trust a poll that can be easily shown to have its numbers and samples manipulated to produce the results its station clearly wanted?

Cillizza then proceeds to repeat the media meme about how white racists will come out to vote in November and make it difficult for Democrats to win, and how that is also all the black guy's fault.

There is, however, a thick layer of incompetence in Cillizza's piece - his own. His columns - one yesterday extolling the same CNN poll and one today using it to bash the President - are prime examples of journalistic incompetence in the mold of Fox News and "Newsbusters." Speaking of "Newsbusters," it occurs to me that Cillizza's most recent kiss-up to conservative media memes started right after Newsbusters, a far Right media "watchdog" group - yanked his chains. Like a good servant, Cillizza cleaned up his act and began to go after the president.

Luckily for Cilliza, his form of journalistic malpractice and incompetence is now more often the commonplace rule rather than the exception in our national media landscape. When Cillizza, a supposed progressive and a frequent guest on the supposedly liberal network MSNBC, can publish these types of malicious columns clearly targeted at promoting a right wing meme in the supposedly mainstream Washington Post, all semblance of a fair media, let alone a liberal one, has been purged. By hook or by crook, the right wing has coopted the message of the mainstream.

Perhaps Cillizza's concoction is unintentional. Perhaps this is just brainwashing from too much hob-knobbing in the halls of power. Or perhaps Cillizza is looking for a job with Fox News. We can't be sure. But we can be sure he's advancing the cause of right wing conservative lies, witting or unwitting makes no difference.

For the rest of us, Cillizza's hit piece should serve as a key example of the need to diversify the media - away from the white-privileged (please, before you troll, learn the difference between white and white-privilege) corners of Washington and New York. The air in that bubble is poisoned, right wing, and callous, with the worst regard for the truth, let alone journalistic ethics.

The centralized power of the main stream media needs to be badly broken, and there IS something we can all do to break it. VOTE.



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