Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Washington and Obama

I remember years ago reading an essay by an old school journalist about how the 60s and the Vietnam War changed journalism. It was a very thought provoking article, because I had never seen the kind of respectful, patriotic journalism he was talking about, but I knew enough history to know that he was right. I also remember Robert Novak (I think it was him) talking about how back then you didn't print all the salacious details about politicians private lives. There were open secrets for example about the JFK, but there was a different code of journalism then.

I love to use this in class as it prompts some fascinating discussions, and we can watch old Hollywood War Movies and compare them to movies today and talk about how even though the Iraq War has had less casualties than D Day we are still trained to be instinctively against it. There is only one war the establishment still allows us to support: The Civil War. Although we remain blissfully ignorant of its many defeats and bumbling leadership... Lincoln's near defeat for re-election etc...

But I digress. It seems that currently we have returned to that previous state of journalism in regards to President Obama. Going back to the early days of campaigning the press showed a deep reluctance to dig into any of the more embarrassing histories and associations of Obama. Moreover, they treat him with a sort of reverence and awe that can only be compared to the treatment our first president received. Indeed, only George Washington was treated with more respect and honor than President Obama. Unfortunately, there is no doubt as to where this newfound respect and deference originate, and we cannot hope to see the return of a time when the media had some kind of standards... It is less from respect for the office, the country, and more a result of anatomical "thrills" as Chris Matthews would put it. But then you could call George Washington a "community leader" too!

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