Has Politico Turned Anti-Obama?

March 19, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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politico2Since news of the AIG bonuses broke, President Obama has taken a beating on the pages of Washington’s political news powerhouse, Politico.  Its latest front page piece, boldly announces “Obama Struggles as Communicator” and reads less as a news story and more like a political autopsy of Obama’s late rhetorical expertise. The great orator, often compared to FDR and Lincoln has now irreversibly depreciated, failing to win the message war on the economy.  A drastic shift in tone, when just days earlier, Politico reported on the efficiency of Obama’s communications team, highlighting renewed efforts within the White House to “tighten the reins on Congress.”

From this rather schizophrenic style of reporting, you’d think the RNC had suddenly assumed power at the helm of Politico’s editorial board.  After a closer look, that theory may not be too far off.   The 5 Biggest Myths About Obama, an article penned by Alex Conant, a communications consultant who served as the Republican National Committee’s national press secretary during the 2008 presidential campaign, weasled its way into the headlines section of Politico.com.  And Obama wasn’t the only one taking a beating.  “Dem Hypocrisy Will Come Back to Haunt” also appeared on Politico.com’s headlines section, written by Anthony Marsh who most recently served as a senior consultant to Michael Steele’s campaign for the Republican National Committee chairmanship.

On Wednesday, Politico ran “Some Dems Want Brake in Obama Plans”.  A rather misleading headline, when not one of the Hill Democrats quoted asked for a brake or a scaling back of Obama’s plans.  Sen. Evan Bayh innocuously stated, “there’s going to be some belt-tightening that’s necessary.” Politico even admitted in its reporting that, “Democrats’ comments were muted, with few directly criticizing Obama for being too ambitious.”

What’s alarming here is not the negative reporting on Obama and Dems, it’s the hint of agenda, an effort to shoehorn the reporting to fit the flashy headline.  And, as the Washington Post scales back, deciding this week to fold its business section, Politico continues to grow.  According to The New Republic, Politico‘s readership spiked during the election, attracting 4.6 million unique readers in September 2008–about 1/3 of the Post‘s online readership.

Which demands this newsflash for the Post’s next generation: A vulnerable White House is no excuse for shoddy journalism.

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