Is the progressive media about to get tougher on Obama?
Terrified of a Romney presidency, liberals rallied around Obama during the election. Now they say they're ready to fight for an array of progressive causes
For news organizations that are openly progressive — as opposed to those that, in the conservative mind, advance a liberal agenda under the guise of neutrality — President Obama has been a disappointment on numerous levels. In progressive eyes, he has capitulated to the right on a host of issues, such as climate change and gun control. Even his signature achievements, such as the health care overhaul and Wall Street regulatory reform, were the source of much bitterness for liberals who wanted more far-reaching change. But with the threat that Mitt Romney could win the White House and transform the liberal dream into a charred Mordor of broken hopes, the various factions of the progressive cause mostly rallied around Obama. Now that Romney has been safely dispatched, the progressive media is preparing to get tough on Obama, says Dylan Byers at Politico:
In the days and weeks following Obama’s victory, progressive voices, primarily in print media, have made efforts to push the president on key parts of the unfinished liberal agenda — including climate change, drone strikes, troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the closing of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, civil liberties, and gun control…
[S]ome of the left’s most influential voices in media said that, with the concerns of re-election over, they intend to be more critical of the president’s performance and more aggressive in urging him to pursue a progressive agenda as the clock ticks on his last four years in office.
Some are skeptical that the progressive media outlets will really put the screws to Obama. After all, the next congressional elections are only two years away, says Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian:
Over the past four years, they have justified their supine, obsequious posture toward the nation's most powerful political official by appealing to the imperatives of electoral politics: namely, it's vital to support rather than undermine Obama so as to not help Republicans win elections. Why won't that same mindset operate now to suppress criticisms of the Democratic leader?…
Once one decides in the name of electoral expediency to abdicate their primary duty as a citizen and especially as a journalist — namely, to hold accountable those who wield the greatest political power — then this becomes a permanent abdication. That's because U.S. politics is essentially one permanent, never-ending election. The 2012 votes were barely counted before the political media began chattering about 2016, and MSNBC is already — as one of its prime time hosts put it — "gearing up" for the 2014 midterm.
The first post-election test for the progressive media is the fiscal cliff, which is the type of controversial issue that could "be overshadowed to some degree by the the familiar attacks on Republicans that fire up the liberal base," says Byers. However, progressives have already voiced concern that Obama could give away too many cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and a final deal could end up drawing howls of protest.