>Washington, DC.- Somebody told me once that the two victories of George W Bush couldn’t be explained without the support of the national TV Station FOX, maybe the most conservative mass media source in the US.
Nowadays, FOX is the most prominent media opposition to the White House policies and, in particular, to Obama’s decision making. This is nothing new; it also happened during the primaries and the election campaign when the majority of the media were soft, friendly, and generous with Barack Obama (and the conservative media were focused on following John McCain’s rallies, than in Obama’s).
The popularity of the President is high since he took the oath in January. The latest poll released today by The New York Times and CBS News (see graphic) shows rates around fifty per cent for the most controversial policies, and more than sixty per cent when considering the general public opinion.
Presidential approval by the media is nothing new in US political history. It’s not clear how much the media acquiescence influences in boosting Obama’s public perception, but somehow it seems to. As I wrote in a past comment in this blog, the media has a strong power—so-called “right”—to endorse politicians during the campaign. And, once elected, the politicians have a strong obsession for listening to the media’s comments.
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) was one of the most popular presidents in recent times, which was not the case with George H. W. Bush (1989-1993), who was succeeded by Bill Clinton (1993-2001). Clinton arrived to the White House with high levels of popularity, and he kept the media acquiescence till the Lewinsky scandal and suddenly criticism of him and his policies became the norm in the media. George W. Bush experienced a similar situation. He got one of the highest rates of popularity and media support after Sep11, just when he needed it the most.
With Barack Obama, we are seeing something similar. His popularity is spread all around the US. His approval rating is high, having being backed by Democrats and independents alike. No media source, except for FOX News, will strongly criticize him in important ways—Obama knows it, and he is taking advantage of this to kick-off new regulatory policies that, in another situation, would be impossible even to talk about.
It will be interesting to follow the evolution of the media approval ratings for Obama in the coming months. At this point it is still difficult to imagine and editorial from CNN, The New York Times or The Washington Post openly against him.