Chicago Sun-Times
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Media Idolizing Obama?


The softball treatment the press has given Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was the topic on Sunday's edition of ``Reliable Sources'' on CNN hosted by Howard Kurtz.

In Washington, your Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet and Clarence Page of the Trib commented on the Obama treatment.

Kurtz sets up the discussion thus: "Does the senator walk on water, or have the media gone off the deep end?"

Clarence and I were billed as "Veteran Chicago reporters on the media's amazing swoon over Senator Barack Obama."

here are some excerpts.....

Kurtz: Lynn Sweet, what explains the unbelievable puffy treatment the media are lavishing on Barack Obama?

Sweet: Well, I think in the last week or two, it seems that the whole media establishment has just been snookered by the P.R. blitz designed just to sell the book.

Kurtz: Snookered?

Sweet: Snookered, yes. Snookered.

........ The only reason that he's on all these shows, stacked the way he is, is because of the book. And apparently, no one wants to either read more about the book, which does have some interesting things in it, or spent two minutes looking at some other parts of his legislative or political record to ask any other questions other than, "Do you want to run for president?"

KURTZ: Now, Clarence Page, in your column today you urge him to run for president. "Seize the day," you right. "So what about inexperience?"

So you've drunk the Kool-Aid, Clarence.

Page: No, I haven't drunk the Kool- Aid. I'm remembering Colin Powell.

You know, back in '96, Colin Powell had his moment and he didn't run. And he's never been that popular since. I can't imagine Barack Obama ever being more popular than he is right now, and chance are considerably less. The longer you stay in that Senate, that's where -- that's where the Kool-Aid is. And it's only going to taint his image in various ways.

He's getting this big blitz right now. Lynn is right partly. We saw this coming with the release date of the book, but also the fact that he's so unblemished in the middle of the Mark Foley scandal times and everything else, he's benefiting from that wave.

Kurtz: Now, look, Senator Obama is an impressive guy. He's traveled to Africa. You've gone there with him. But I come back to this question, why are journalists practically trying to -- including Clarence, practically trying to draft the guy into a presidential race when he's been a senator for just under two years?

Sweet: I think it's the compelling storyline. And he is also one of the luckiest political figures, as he himself admits.

You know, Howie, he hasn't even ever had a rough press conference. He's never had one negative ad run against him. He's untested, but that's the point.

He is a clean slate. That's why he is so appealing, because he has escaped some of the normal, you know, bad stuff that happens to people on the campaign trail. And here's the realization I think his people and Senator Obama is coming to, and it's this, you can't time timing.

And so they might have had a master plan, they might have had a big view...

Kurtz: Right.

Sweet: ... and that's being reevaluated, even as we speak.

Kurtz: The Obama blitz continues. This morning he was on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russet. But not everything is a wet kiss.

The cover story in "Harper's" magazine this month raises questions about his fund-raising. And Maureen Dowd in her "New York Times" column kind of makes fun of what she calls his "modeling gigs" for magazines like "Men's Vogue" and "Marie Claire".

But here's my question to you, Clarence. There's a war in Iraq, there's a battle against al Qaeda, and the media are clamoring for a guy who two years ago was a state senator in Springfield, Illinois?

Page: It's not just the media. The public loves this guy, too, partly because he is different from all the folks who are in power right now.

Kurtz: What percentage of the public do you think knows who Barack Obama is?

Page: Look -- well, just one question, Howard. Look at what the experience of George W. Bush has gotten us into. So, you know, how much experience do you need for this job? What kind of experience?

People see Obama as a man of integrity, and that's what people are looking for right now.

Sweet: Well, there's two different little, you know...... you're talking about here, and that is the press following the stampede of each other, and they're getting exclusives. This is an insider's show to a bit.

One of the reasons he's getting this is that he has not offered himself since Africa to be doing sit-downs. It's the lure of the sit- down, the lure of exclusivity. I mean, he is...

Kurtz: In other words, he has parceled himself out?

Sweet: Yes. Yes.

Kurtz: He has limited his availability, so that built up the...

Sweet: So you have a little pent-up demand now for the book tour.

Kurtz: What about Clarence's point about Colin Powell in 1996? But I look at it differently. What Colin Powell did consciously or otherwise, was engage in a great tease with the American public about whether he would run for president the following year, 1996, and his autobiography sold a couple of million copies. So how do you know that we're not see anything the same thing with Obama?

Sweet: I don't think we do. That's right, if you want to have a rational discussion about this, you have to take a step back when some of the book bloom, you know, wears off.

Joe Klein in his "TIME" magazine piece this week I think kind of nailed it that you have to just take a breath, take a look because of the Powell example. The more you do this, all this is doing is selling books by the moment, which is not bad.

Kurtz: And although the "TIME" cover packaged it as, will, should Obama run for president, Klein did raise the point in his piece that he's not all that bold when it comes to policy.

But I want to ask a more overarching question. Is there a hunger among journalists for a black politician who as seen as transcending race? Is that part of the appeal here?

PAGE: Oh, I think so. And I think the public as well.

Powell emerged at a time after the O.J. Simpson trial, right after the Clarence Thomas hearings, after the Million Man March. There was a lot of racial division in the country that now it's even broader. It's not just race now. It's a question of integrity and leadership, transformational leadership of the sort we haven't seen since the days of Dr. King, you know.

And the media, of course, we love a good story. I mean, this guy, I'd love to cover the Obama campaign. I would have loved to have covered the Powell campaign.

Kurtz: You would love it so much that you're trying to entice him into the race?

Page: You got it, pal. And that's also what my column says, "Beware, Barack, because we're going to turn against you as soon as you........''

Sweet: It's a foregone conclusion, I think, that anyone who is running for president would want him, even if he doesn't go himself, would want him as a running mate. And I saw that this week.

Kurtz: What about -- you're both journalists who have dealt extensively with the senator. Is he himself or his staff sensitive to any, for example, thing that you might write or say about him that is not laudatory?

Sweet: Absolutely. If Clarence and I say the wrong thing, right, we're going to get a call before we're out this door. And, you know, you how to find us. We know who we're talking about......

Kurtz: What do they say in these calls?

Sweet: They're very sensitive. They're very sensitive.

Kurtz: Why is that?

Sweet: Hypersensitive. I think partly because they haven't had a tough campaign. They had -- and again, Barack is the first one to say that he was blessed by the fluky set of events that set into place for him.

Kurtz Where he basically cruised to election.

Sweet: He cruised to -- I'll tell you, Mayor Daley's best day would be the word day for other people. And -- but if....... tests you, or people that come up through that kind of rough-and- tumble, you know, environment -- and he hasn't had -- and that's why I think they're a little -- I think they're a little hypersensitive.

Kurtz I'm sure Obama's office will send you chocolates over this morning's column, but have you ever gotten any flack from the senator or his people?

Page: Not directly. But, you know, if your calls aren't returned right away, that's a sign of something. But no, so far I've been on good relations, but I don't expect the honeymoon to last forever.

Kurtz: Also, in return they'll be IM-ing you before this is over.


As much as the media hate George W. Bush, they love Obama. And yet "the media" proclaim they do not lean left. How absurd. Not only do they lean left, they then lie about it. No wonder people have quit trusting the media.

i can't belive you are even serious about the title of this column/blg. . after the way the sun-times, (sweet & mitchell in particular ) slobbers all over "barry" . you would dare critisize the mainstream media. Barf ! i can't stand oprah, but at least she doesn't pretend to be anything other than what she is. (like a journalist) the sun-times columnists are actively CAMPAINGING for obama. leaving no credibility in thier reporting whatsoever. if you want this disingenous phony , go ahead. might as well put hiliary on the ticket as well. probably your next blog.

I doubt very much if you columnists will be satisfied with president. I imagine next you'll all want to clown him King for eternity....PS: Where were all of you when he was getting beat by a clown like Bobby Rush for a congressional seat?

I subscribe to the Sun Times and I can't count the number of times that front pages stories were essentially 527 ads for Obama on that paper.

If you WERE in the tank for Obama how would your coverage be any different than it is now?

Not much.

Let's just skip electing him President and go ahead and crown him King Obama for life. Forget the fact he has no experience in national politics.

it's funny how you guys accuse the "liberal media" of swooning over Barak, however, you offer no criticisms. The only criticisms that have been stated about this guy, which is said from both the 'right'and 'left' sides of the media, is that in regards to a possible presidential bid, he lacks experience. In terms of him being a "disingenous phony", this is based on.....your gut??..ahh, I guess your a Bush supporter, and how right you were to vote for him.

Remember Chauncy Gardner? This is the Dems answer to him!

What has he done in his career, except for one speech at the Demo Convention?
Unremarkble career...pawn of the DNC...he actually does fit the mold of those they try to elect.

Does he ever answer a question without saying "well let me say this...". No...answer the question. Ever see him sweat when asked about reparations? When he seems to be drifting too much to his new white constituents, he goes to Africa to "discover his roots" (what's wrong with your white Kansas roots?). Barry's a born politician.

The Honeymoon started with the Media when Obama was first elected as the First Black Male Senator in Illinois history. Then, the Media created an Idea/thought, and Ran with it: Barrack Obama should be president.

Senator Barrack Obama never said he wanted to be president; just, a good Illionois Senator with the hopes that he could get some "bills" passed, once the Democrats to the Majority again. But know, the Media continued; then, now Oprah, the only "black women" white women can tolerate, is on the bandwagon; then, there is Hallie Berry, and all the Liberal Hollywood crew, and a secret Billionare who back's Liberal causes who I heard had a one on one interview with Obama.

Obama mind you didn't created this but he will get all the "backlash" when the Republican Right Wing, Racist, Demagoguary Machine "start's it's engine" and focus on Obama and pay someone to find every little nasty thing they can on him.

Should Obama Run. Hell know. For all the obvious reasons: He has no experience. Yes, I know this President didn't have much either; but, he was a Governor and he had a former President as father and Grandfather as a former Senator and all kinds of funding-that counts.

Obama, is a little guy. A recent Harvard graduate; a middle class guy, who happen to win in a black Illinois District and got elected to the Illinois Congress where he done exceptionally well. Now he's a Senator; but, his mission should be to make sure he is electable for another 6 year term in the State of Illinios. He needs to make sure the Illinois voters in every Region of this state likes the work and effort he is doing and showing in "bringing home the bacon". He needs to get comfortable with the voters in his Senate State. He can continue to do the fund raisers for other canidates but he must "focus" on Home: The state of Illionis.

If he's re-elected again I think then and only then should he consider running for the highest office in the land. Certainly he's qualified, and has all the wisdom and insight's needed for this endeavor.

But, he needs to wait, and to infactically tell Oprah, the Hollywood Liberals, and his voter base that he is concern about Illinois.

I'm ashamed of Dick Durban who is urging him to run. Perhaps Dick would like to see Obama taking apart like a vulture and exposed by the Media which is bound to happen. Senator Durbin I thought he was Presidential material but he is sitting Obama up for a fall with Illinois voters; and a fall from grace from the American public once they get to know him through the lenses of Right Wing Republican tactics.

The above comments show the kind of negative attacks Senator Obama is likely to receive if he decides to run for President. Already, the cynical right wingers are ready to dig their claws into him. What a shame that a thoughtful, intelligent man who tries to approach political problems in a reasonable, rational way is made a target for attacks by rigid ideologues. They could learn a lot from a man who so often tries to reach out to those who disagree with him. What a contrast Obama is to a President who refuses to ever say "I'm sorry" for his many mistakes.

to Carole: You bring up their intense hate of Bush and idolizing of Obama. Its called a DOUBLE STANDARD. But don't worry, if he does run for president, he will be dirtied up. Hillary's folks will see to that. Why Maureen Dowd (a Clinton fan) is already saying some things of his past...Carole, want another example of the DOUBLE STANDARD. Remember how the media lobbied and demanded Elian Gonzalez go back to Cuba because his father wanted him? Well that little African boy Madonna adopted (because Angelina Jolie adopted one) is wanted back home by his father. So where are all these do-goodie liberals? Why are they so quiet this time?

I agree that Obama exudes and straightforwardness and reasonableness that is very appealing given what we've experienced of late. However, I will need to see where he stands on specific issues before jumping on the draft Obama bandwagon.

Amid all the adulation given to Senator Barack Obama for a presidential bid is the underlying resentment that the white man in America still harbors towards an intelligent black man. Try as he may to convince himself to support a man of Obama's intellect, the white man cannot bring himself to do it. In. Gov.Douglas Wilder's election in Virginia, polls showed Wilder ahead by as many as thirty percentage points- indicating that he had the support of the "white establishment" of the party. Yet, Wilder narrowly etched out a victory with less than one percent of the vote.Following his election, that same pollster found that 60% of white men and women who said they would vote for Wilder did not-despite the fact that he was by far the most qualified candidate in a state overwhelmingly democratic. Many will offer the argument that Illinois has elected two black senators and Massachusettes elected one as well. These states encourage straight party voting where traditionally voters cast a straight partyline ballot, and they are overwhelmingly democratic which does not say much in today's party of "Reagan democrats", the "moral values" voter, the "soccer moms",the "right to lifers" etc. All these branches of democratic voters are simply those who choose to veil their prejudices - in order to give them a reason not to support a black candidate who is uniquely qualified. Many black were disappopinted when Colin Powell did not run. But because he had spent the twelve previous years in Washington- he had a realistic view of the establishments disdain for himself, as well as J.C. Watts who was ignored for a leadership position when he had paid all his dues to the Bushes and the national party. At this hour of upheaval in our nation and around the world- it's not in Barack's or the African American community for him to run and damage the eventual nominee. Because- we need a democrat in the white house now like we needed Roosevelt following the depression.

In response to Mark who suggested we just jump ahead and make Obama "king", my questions are: 1) will the Bush Royal Family agree to not seek to regain the crown through scare tactics that imply only they can protect us lowly peasants; 2) will we have the ability to forever ban his court jesters of Rove and Rumsfeld, et. al. from our kingdom (thereby securing peace in our kingdom); and 3) will King Obama be alllowed to repeal the current monarch's royal decrees that quashed the rights provided to us peasants in the Magna Carta?

If so, let the corination take place.

As Lynn Sweet said on the interview on CNN, Obama is a very lucky political figure. After Jack Ryan had to drop out of the Senate race two years ago, Obama basically ran unopposed. So if he ran for President, the Republicans or even his democratic opponents in the primary will expose his extreme liberalism. It's good to see most here on this blog are not falling for the Obama facade.

Bob Evans(good breakfast place, by the way), us white men are not afraid of an intelligent black man. It's the other way around what with blacks almost universally supporting a dishonest system like affirmative action. However, I do agree with the other part of your post. Obama will never be President because most people vote for their own kind. That's how Ray Nagin recently won re-election for mayor in New Orleans. Regardless of how many blacks died due to his incompetence with hurricane Katrina, blacks voted for him becasue he's black. Marion Berry is another example in D.C. In fact, us whites need to be more nationalistic when it comes to voting for candidates. There is nothing wrong with voting for your own people.

Jerry, you left out John Stroger. I have a $50 bet with a friend that his son, Steve Erkel, will be elected just because he's black.

Dear Senator Obama,
I saw you on Oprah last week, and I quickly began to think and feel..what a
wonderful President you would make. I loved your family values, your wisdom concerning not takeing a private jet to a poverty stricken land and your priorities. Let me be one of the mobs of others who are saying Go! Run! Be!

Chris, good point about Todd Stroger. Even though he will waste billions of dollars just like his father did, he will be elected because he's black. Obama's problem is that if he runs for President he will need more than the Cook County black vote or the Cook County guilty white liberal vote. He will need to win some southern states, or the votes from people in south Boston or south Philadelphia, or farmers in Iowa or Wisconsin, and good luck with that. Because you have to remember, the rest of the country is not nearly as stupid about politics as we are here in Illinois.

to Jerry and Chris: You guys needed to remind Bob Evans that alot of intelligent black men get the votes of whites. JC Watts was congressman in a district that was 85% white. And its the democrats themselves who try to destroy alot of African-Americans. Such as the name-calling v. Michael Steele in Maryland. Calling him a slave. You imagine had a republican said that? We'd never hear the end of it. But since it was a democrat that name-called him, all is overlooked. You guys bring up Todd Stroger. Does anybody really think he's qualified? Whats that old saying, "I wouldn't vote for him for dog-catcher." Hey, did you guys see in Monday's SUN-TIMES where Ald. William Beavers more or less ORDERED Gov. Blagojevich to give the Stroger campaign $100,000 if he wants a heavy African-American turnout. (1) that amounts to a blackmail, and (2) if I was African-American, I'd be TOTALLY INSULTED. That a politician (Beavers) thinks I'm so stupid that he can control if I show up to vote or not...So why haven't any of the African-Americans on this blog mentioned they felt insulted that an Chicago alderman (Beavers) thinks he can speak for them and tell them what to do and not to do?

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on October 23, 2006 12:47 AM.

Sweet blog scoop: Hastert team to testify this week in Foley scandal probe. was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet Column: Obama mulling '08 presidential bid. is the next entry in this blog.

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