Liberal journalism professor Jay Rosen was puzzled when Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin wondered aloud whether he and other journalists should be skeptical of Barack Obama. Conservative blogger Jon Henke was downright flabbergasted:
“Immediate dismissal” is an overreach, but Jon is right to call Froomkin out for his bizarre musings about how to cover Obama. No journalist should ever wonder whether skepticism of politicians is warranted; it always is.
The problem these days is that few mainstream journalists are the least bit skeptical of Obama. And the fact that the Post columnist tasked with covering the Obama administration is even thinking of giving Obama a pass, if only for an extension of the honeymoon that began with his candidacy, doesn’t bode well for future coverage of “The One.”
Froomkin’s subtle confession of favoritism toward Obama is all the more disappointing when you put it in the context of what Froomkin said three years ago when his column faced fierce internal and external criticism. Then-Post ombudsman Deborah Howell called Froomkin’s work “highly opinionated and liberal.”
Froomkin changed the name of the column from “White House Briefing” to “White House Watch” in the aftermath, but he defended his work by portraying himself not as a liberal Bush-hater but as a watchdog of whomever is in the White House. “[M]y job is to watch the White House like a hawk,” he told Rosen in a PressThink interview.
Those words don’t square with the internal conflict Froomkin recently admitted:
Though his liberalism prompted Froomkin to overstep the bounds of good watchdogging at times, he was right about his job during the Bush administration; he needs to remember his role once someone who shares his liberal worldview is in the White House.
He said he was ready to be a Kerry watchdog, and in light of his recent public waffling about how to cover Obama, Froomkin had better be even more aggressive now or his journalistic reputation will be shot.
Filed under: Media and News & Politics