Why didn't Newsweek name names in its Obama bow piece?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

I really wish Newsweek writer Katie Connolly had named names in her brief online article headlined, "Outrage Over Obama's Bow Is Contrived and Unhelpful."

In it, Connolly wrote [emphasis added]:

I've been a little hesitant to weigh in on the debate about what it means that President Obama bowed when he met Japanese Emperor Akihito. It seems that the folks who are outraged by the bow are just seizing on it as yet another outlet for an increasingly unhinged disdain for anything and everything the president does.

I thought her take on the bow non-story was dead-on, but I wished she said more than "the folks who are outraged by the bow." I wish she had been more specific about whose those "folks" were. (Answer: Right-wing, Obama-hating loons. What, you have a better description?) It's important for Connolly and other journalists to start naming names and move beyond acknowledging in vague, cryptic ways, the type of tell-tale idiocy that Obama's dedicated haters shovel in and out everyday.

Journalists get what's going on. They understand that the almost daily contrived 'controversies' dreamt up nowadays by the GOP Noise machine are often just too dumb for words. (i.e. The bow.) They realize that Obama haters will try to push virtually any half-assed attack into the mainstream conversation. Journalist who take their jobs and who take politics seriously understand that the right-wing loons are using lies and smears and are slowly but successfully making a mockery out what used to be considered a serious pursuit in this country and inside the Beltway.

Journalists get all that. (How could savvy, serious people not get it?) And every now and then some of them, such as Connolly, call the BS out. They stand up and say that today's menu of Obama hate is "contrived and unhelpful." And that's good. It's important that journalists take that step and at least occasionally express that outrage at what now passes for 'news' and 'controversy.'

What's almost always missing from those efforts though, is the naming of the names. Too many Beltway journalists are still not comfortable being specific about which loud right-wing voices are trafficking in lies and nonsense on any given day. And so Connolly, for instance, settles for "the folks."

Who are "the folks"? In this case, they're Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and the morning crew of Fox & Friends, just to name a few. And oh yeah, the entire right-wing blogosphere. That's who hatched the utterly irrelevant 'controversy' about whether Obama made an unspeakable error in bowing before Japan's Emperor Akihito. (I have not seen or read of a single expert in Japanese culture who thinks Obama did.)

As I noted earlier this year, collectively the right-wing press, including Fox News, is becoming the story. Fox, for instance, no longer operates as a news organization. Instead, it has transformed itself into the Opposition Party of the Obama White House, which means that real journalists need to treat Fox News as the political entity that it is. So when it launches a phony story like the "bow" controversy, and hammers it relentlessly, journalists like Connolly ought to state clearly who's pushing the partisan attack. Time and again this year, the Beltway press has politely refused to call out Fox News' new political role.

See, it's not just "folks" who are trying everyday to undermine the president. It's the staff at Fox News, and their allies in the right-wing media. Real journalists need to start pointing that out. They need to start naming names.

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