Sunday, February 1, 2009 was a big day for many. Aside from peoples’ individual accomplishments, the NFL broadcast their biggest game of the year–the Superbowl. It was a great game. The Pittsburgh Steelers squeaked ahead of the Arizona Cardinals with a 27-23 win. But that really doesn’t matter, given this blog’s genre. The cause of concern was what NBC showed about a half hour before the big game–an interview with President Barack Obama.
To begin, there isn’t a more overt attempt for a political leader to characterize himself as a “man of the people” than to interject himself into a sports match. Case in point, the Caesars of Rome would use the events in the Colosseum to advertise their ability to keep the public content. Miniature battles with gladiators and vicious animals kept Romans’ minds on the excitement and carnage, rather than the reality of their morose conditions.
Football players are, in a sense, America’s gladiators; the stadiums they play in are our Colosseums. Up until February 1, 2009, politicians had the tact to avoid the caesarian pentiant to interject themselves into such events, but President Barack Obama thought it wise to break a social, political norm that actually made sense. On that day, our president–who seems to bring nothing but hope, change, sunflowers, unicorns and all sorts of general prosperity–decided it wise to be interviewed a half hour before the National Football League’s championship match.
Is this the change we need?
If the mere fact that our president felt the need to politicize a sports game wasn’t bad enough, the softball questions NBC’s Matt Lauer tossed Obama’s way tipped the scales away from news and into the propaganda zone.
From his first question, “How’s it going with the mother-in-law?”, to his in depth analysis about the college football playoff structure, Lauer blew the opportunity of a lifetime to actually glean poinant information from our new president. Arguably, the interview got serious while Lauer scoured the surface of troop withdrawals from Iraq and how legislative Republicans were playing hardball on the stimulus package. All told, in a fourteen question interview, Matt Lauer used only four to talk about real issues.
And the icing on the cake–Lauer didn’t simply ask softballs, he took the opportunity at a potentially historic interview to boost President Obama’s image! As the interview drew to a close, instead of ending with profundities or meaningful dialogue, the NBC superstar reporter decided to focus on 1) Obama’s Blackberry, 2) the president and his family’s portrait on US Weekly, 3) his Superbowl prediction and 4) begging Barack Obama for his personal e-mail address.
Since when has it been the job of a reporter to help politicians?
NBC has a reputation for left-leaning media bias, but the magnitude of Obamania the television leviathan has shown at the expense of journalistic integrity is alarming. It’s one thing for MSNBC commentators like Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann to burst blood vessels over their hatred of everything Republican, but for a supposely fair reporter like Matt Lauer to join the lefty love fest creates a big problem. The news media serves the incredibly important role of informing the people about the goings on in government, good or bad. When bias like this rears its ugly head, that integrity is compromised. We need honest, fair individuals to take the lead in our reporting. If he hadn’t proved it earlier, Matt Lauer showed on February 1, 2009 that he is does not fit that bill.