Four hundred reporters even formed their own off-the-record shared email chat group, JournoList, to strategize attacks against Obama’s political opponents. AttackWatch.com (paid for by Obama for America) read like some sort of secret-police operation, asking readers to report any criticism of Obama, as it compiled “Attack files” in blaring black and red headers.
In the old Dr. Faustus story, a young scholar bargains away his soul to the devil for promises of obtaining almost anything he wants.
The American media has done much the same thing with the Obama administration. In return for empowering a fellow liberal, the press gave up its traditional adversarial relationship with the president.
But after five years of basking in a shared progressive agenda, the tab for such ecstasy has come due, and now the media is lamenting that it has lost its soul.
At first, the loss of independence seemed like a minor sacrifice. In 2008, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews sounded almost titillated by an Obama speech, exclaiming, “My, I felt this thrill going up my leg.” Earlier, New York Times columnist David Brooks had fixated on Obama’s leg rather than his own: “I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant, and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president, and b) he’ll be a very good president.”
For worshiper and former Newsweek editor Evan Thomas, Obama was divine: “Obama’s standing above the country, above the world, he’s sort of God.” TV pundit and presidential historian Michael Beschloss ranked the newly elected Barack Obama as “the smartest guy ever to become president.”