Obama's First 100 Days: What To Expect From The Media

If things stay true to form, I would look for the press to bring their A-game to 100 days coverage, provided that by "A-game," you mean some combination of cluelessness and vapidity!

As you know, tomorrow is an important day for America: the 100th day of Barack Obama's presidency. This is an important milestone for the media, who really do not often get the opportunity to prove their mettle when it comes to complicated tasks, such as "using a calendar" and "counting to one hundred." Tomorrow, they shall demonstrate this, utterly. And the White House will be playing along, broadcasting a special news conference, where reporters will take the president to task for not solving all of America's problems in the first 6.84462696% of his presidency, and wonder whether or not it will impact the President as a referendum during the off-year elections, coverage of which begins Thursday, pending the availability of Nate Silver's calculator.

Anyway, this One Hundred Day milestone is going to be a Thing That's Talked About, no doubt Gravely. And I was wondering what I might expect from tomorrow's coverage, besides the return, maybe, of CNN's holograms -- I'm sorry ... I meant CNN's fourth-place award-winning holograms! As it turns out, Media Matters collected a bunch of quotes from the last time the press ran through their 100 Days tradition, and, if things stay true to form, I would look for the press to bring their A-game tomorrow, provided that by "A-game," you mean some combination of cluelessness and vapidity!

A child's garden of the first 100 Days Of Bush reactions:

New York Times editorial: "In his unscripted public performances, Mr. Bush has seemed clumsy and amateurish by the standards of the four presidents mentioned above. But his sunny self-confidence, even his penchant for bankers' hours and long weekends, seems to sit well with many Americans. It is a relief, they seem to be saying, to have a president who is not so tiring and omnipresent as Mr. Clinton."

From the paper of record, all the soft bigotry of low expectations that is fit to print. This would become a theme!

Morton Kondracke, Roll Call: "In 100 days, President Bush has, as promised, changed the tone in Washington. It's businesslike now, not boisterous. We're doing policy, not soap opera. And the public seems to like it. Instead of Bill Clinton's bifurcated poll ratings -- high job approval, low personal favorability -- Bush's are in sync. More than 60 percent of the public both approves of his performance and likes him personally. This is pretty remarkable, given that he lost the popular vote last November, he became president after a bitter recount fight and the economy is soft. ... Bush may be the beneficiary of low expectations."

Strange. As the expectations kept getting lower and lower, the benefits really started to dry up, didn't they?

Joseph Curl, Washington Times: "[T]he presidential candidate who pundits said lacked the skills and knowledge necessary to run the country has deftly handled an international crisis, increased his approval rating to 63 percent -- eight points higher than former President Bill Clinton enjoyed after his first 100 days -- and returned dignity to a White House stained by his predecessor."

See what he did there? The big takeaway is JIZZ. JIZZ left all over the White House. It shouldn't take 100 days to clean that up, though! Just hit those carpets with some shampoo, or if you want to be thorough, steam clean them. That'll get that baby batter out!

William Safire, New York Times: "Bush succeeded in his 100 days in not being Clinton. Not being Clinton is a big step forward."

Wow. My personal land speed record of not being Bill Clinton is well under four seconds. Should we marvel at the fact that it took Bush a hundred days to do that?

Bill Sammon, Washington Times: "Polls show most Americans have closed ranks behind the new president, a trend that has heartened Mr. Bush. ... Many observers believe Mr. Clinton's last-minute flurry of pardons to felons has made Mr. Bush appear more honorable by comparison. The new president seems eager to capitalize on that perception."

That's Bill Sammon, elucidating the upside to pardoning felons.

Fred Barnes: "Bush's 100 days, what have we learned about him that is the best so far? His style. Now, I think he's a perfect man of the times. His laid-back style fits the mood of the country."

Yeah, it was sort of when America realized it needed something more than a Chillaxer-In-Chief that everything started going terribly wrong.

David Brooks: "I give him an A overall. You know, he's a normal president. After Florida that was not inevitable."

Yes. Had the Florida recount turned Bush into some sort of lycanthrope or deviant, he might have had to hand out a B-plus, or something.

New York Daily News editorial: "As one man in the street explained, 'We've gone 100 days without a new scandal. That alone is an achievement.'"

New York City, home to America's largest Sliding Scale For Achievement.

Robert George, New York Post: "I think he's done a very good job and in the sense of actually setting a tone. When you think that Bush campaigned on changing the tone in Washington and so forth, I think he's done -- I think he's done quite well. In a sense, we've gone -- we've gotten a to like a return to normalcy from the 'Perils of Pauline' presidency of Bill Clinton's. So I think in that sense, in that sense I think he's done very, very well."

Give Bush credit, in the first one hundred days, he did not tie any damsels to railroad tracks for failure to pay their rent.

Chris Matthews, MSNBC: "When you look at a young guy in there, a young president, by relative terms, doing a pretty good job, passing some of the tests people have laid out for him, keeping things together, do you wish you were there?"

I think it's important to remember that Chris Matthews is just always this strange.

Mara Liasson, National Public Radio: "Yes, and I also think the other thing that has helped him is low expectations. That's been a theme of his entire career."

See, by overlooking the soft bigotry, Liasson is being classically counterintuitive.

Anyway, as it turns out, the first hundred days of a presidency tends to not be very predictive of the remaining 1360. However, I think that based upon the performance we've seen from the media so far, we can make a few easy predictions about tomorrow. A lot of people will suggest that Obama was awfully naive to believe he could fix everything in 100 days. Someone will say, "Where's the change?" Others will say, "He inherited a mess from George W. Bush." You'll hear a lot of people talk about how chastening it must be for Obama that "bipartisanship" isn't as easy as it looks, as if it were ever easy ... and as if it were ever a worthwhile goal. Grades will be handed out, and they'll be predictable to the point of absurdity.

The one thing no one will note is what a terrible job Obama has done at deconstructing the Bush White House's vision of unitary executive power -- with its attendant wiretappings and state secrets -- because it wouldn't have been constructed in the first place if the press hadn't overseen its construction with cult-like fealty. And you won't hear calls for torture prosecutions, because who will the political press party with if all their friends end up in jail?

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to tv@huffingtonpost.com -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]

Popular in the Community