Is the New York Times trying to morph Obama into candidate Gore?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

How? By suggesting Obama is becoming something of a chameleon who reinvents himself depending on the political setting. The press spent most of 2000 depicting candidate Gore as somebody who was so unsure of his own political skin that he was constantly 'reinventing' himself.

Basically, that Gore was a phony.

Now check out the headline to the Times' article on the press conference: "In a Volatile Time, Obama Strikes a New Tone."

See, it's a new tone; a new approach. It's a new, different Obama. The Times leans heavily on that approach in the lead:

For just under an hour on Tuesday night, Americans saw not the fiery and inspirational speaker who riveted the nation in his address to Congress last month, or the conversational president who warmly engaged Americans in talks across the country, or even the jaunty and jokey president who turned up on Jay Leno.

Instead, according to the Times, what we got "was the professor in chief."

Note how the Times stressed that Obama last night was completely different than the Obama who addressed Congress just one month ago. Back then Obama was a "fiery and inspirational speaker." The Times considers this to be newsworthy.

First of all, it seems self-evident that presidents communicate differently when addressing the nation with a prepared speech before Congress (or on a TV talk show), than they do when answering questions extemporaneously at a press conference. Second, it seems self-evident that there's nothing wrong with presidents communicating differently in different situations. But the Times seems to think it's a big deal Obama acted one way at the press conference and another way in his Congressional debate. That Obama wasn't fiery.

But was Obama really "fiery" when he addressed Congress in February? That's not how we remember his rather somber address to the nation. So we went back and read the Times' next-day article about Obama's speech (Headline: "Amid Gloom, Obama Pledges Recovery"). And guess what, according to the Times, Obama wasn't "fiery," or anything even approaching that.

It's only now, when trying to hype the idea that Obama is changing his tone (reinventing himself?), that the Times retroactively claims Obama was "fiery" in February and professorial in March.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
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