During the Bush years, network news air time was loaded with criticism of George W. Bush for every foreign-policy development. His policies either caused the crisis, or worsened an existing crisis, or, in the case of Iraq, both. Everything Team Bush did was either bumbling, dishonest, blatantly unconstitutional, or horrendously costly in lives and treasure.
"Bush lied, thousands died." That was the vile mantra of the ultra-left, but never denounced as vile by the news media, perhaps because so many agreed with that sentiment. Bush had ruined America’s image in the eyes of the world.
Even when things were looking more positive, the journalists never relented. McClatchy Newspapers demonstrated that ultra-negative bias with this real-but-ridiculous headline: “As Violence Falls in Iraq, Cemetery Workers Feel the Pinch.”
Now that Obama is deep into his second term as president, how the rules have changed! There is no interest in exploring how his policies create crises. There's no appetite for reporting the Keystone Kops antics of this incompetent administration. It doesn't matter that the world now regards this president with greater disdain that what they held for his predecessor.
The media see it as Obama sees it. Foreign policy is a distraction, as something cruel imposed on the president. For example, the other day, CNN.com writer Cassie Spodak lamented how “violence erupting in the sky over Ukraine and on the ground in the Middle East set the agenda...Such buffeting by world events adds to a perception driven by Obama's critics that he lags behind foreign policy issues instead of getting out front."
The CNN headline was “World events derail Obama's agenda.” One could respond flippantly by pointing out that Obama's agenda is limited to golf and fundraising and nothing, absolutely nothing, seems able to derail that agenda.
But there are the serious questions, namely: What is Obama's foreign policy agenda? And is it working?
In a Media Research Center study of 15 days of evening news coverage from July 8 to 23, the networks aired 79 stories, adding up to 169 minutes, on the fighting between Israel and Hamas terrorists in the Gaza strip. That afforded the networks ample time to explore every facet of the story. But only 45 seconds of that delved into criticism of the administration.
Then, from July 17 to 23, the three evening newscasts aired 96 stories, lasting 209 minutes, on the Malaysian jet shootdown over the Ukraine. Same story here. Just 10 seconds of that coverage included criticism of Obama or his team.