Hype About Obama’s Nominees Shows Media’s Corporate Bias

Obama’s selection of a host of Clinton-era centrists for top posts have been greeted with cheers in the press.

ABC‘s George Stephanopoulos gushed that “we have not seen this kind of combination of star power, brain power and political muscle this early in a cabinet in our lifetimes.”

Last week, even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, who makes a point of his disdain for what he calls the “O-phoria,” praised Obama’s transition as “impressive,” saying, “He’s off to a start that nearly justifies the hype.”

As a new FAIR advisory points out, a central trope in this media praise is the notion that Obama’s nominees are “non-ideological.”

Of course, the notion that figures like Rahm Emmanuel are beyond politics is nonsense. As FAIR points out,

Many of these nominees have a distinct record of support for the corporate-friendly NAFTA trade pact, gutting public assistance programs under the guise of welfare “reform,” and pushing various deregulatory policies in the financial sector (including the elimination of the Glass-Steagall Act).

Yet to hear the media tell it, one would think that Obama’s centrist appointees inhabit an ideology-free political zone. A few of the more glaring examples flagged in the release:

Obama is planning to govern from the center-right of his party, surrounding himself with pragmatists rather than ideologues.–David Sanger, New York Times (11/22/08)

Emanuel is a win-at-any-cost partisan but not an ideologue; in his earlier White House stint as a top aide to Clinton, he was a key figure in shepherding through the North American Free Trade Agreement, a crime bill and welfare reform–none of them popular with the Democratic Party’s liberal base.Karen Tumulty, Time (11/13/08)
The records of Messrs. Geithner and Summers suggest views more pragmatic than ideological, on a range of issues that they will likely confront after Mr. Obama takes office in January.–Wall Street Journal (11/24/08)

The release concludes by asking:

What makes these Clinton era centrists’ positions “pragmatic” rather than “ideological”? Notably, those positions were all heartily supported by a corporate media that system that clings fiercely to the notion that it, too, is non-ideological (see Extra! 10-11/89).