On Friday, I mentioned that Barack Obama's media honeymoon may soon come to an end. Obama was profiled last night on "60 Minutes." It was a solid segment, one that touched on the major criticisms of Obama, including his inexperience and his past drug use. But it certainly did not mark a shift towards more negative coverage of the candidate. Obama came off as a likeable family man with big ideas – exactly the kind of image a presidential candidate wants to project.
(Courtesy of Jenny Dubin)
Media commentators like Howard Kurtz have called the positive coverage of Obama "unreal." There is, Kurtz wrote, "a journalistic hunger for a young, attractive black candidate who somehow seems to transcend race." To be sure, there is something to that notion. But it's also worth remembering that Obama has a tremendous personal magnetism – at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, I saw firsthand the way he can make even the most cynical journalists swoon. One lesson that Obama has taught us is that the press corps tends to put likeability on a pedestal to a greater degree than most reporters might like to admit. The question now is just how much longer he'll be able to leverage that likeability before the press corps turns the corner.
UPDATE, 10:25 AM: According to Obama, likeability – not to mention attractiveness – isn't always a good thing. In a press conference, he said that the media is "ignoring his substantive record and falsely depicting him as a lightweight," as Ben Smith of the Politico put it. The candidate said this about his policy record: "The problem's not that the info's not out there. The problem is that that's not what you guys have been reporting on. You've been reporting on how I look in a swimsuit."