Columbia Journalism Review: Our nomination for this week’s bogus Times trend story is in the national section under the headline, “Murmurs on Left of a Primary Challenge to Obama.” Its author, political writer and analyst Matt Bai, writes that disappointed liberals, spurred by the president’s compromise on extending the Bush era tax cuts, among other compromises and failures, are calling for—or at least “murmuring” among themselves about—a primary challenger to take on the president in the lead-up to 2012. The evidence? A trio of liberal columns. Yep, as the rule goes, “three’s a trend.”
….And that’s pretty much all that’s offered to support the rather sensational headline and a lede which claims the latest compromise “is bound to intensify a debate that has been bubbling up on liberal blogs and e-mail lists in recent weeks—whether or not the president who embodied ‘hope and change’ in 2008 should face a primary challenge in 2012.” Well, after an uncritical reading of this article, maybe.
Full article here
Salon (Alex Pareene): Matt Bai has written — and the New York Times has published! — the most pointless piece of fantastical political “analysis” since … the last Matt Bai piece, I guess. The idea is that there is serious talk among liberals of supporting a primary challenge against Barack Obama, and the only problem with the otherwise flawless story is that that it is not true, and so it is a gigantic waste of everyone’s time.
While Matt Bai and his editors would certainly welcome a serious primary campaign against the president, because it would be fun to report on, the fact is that Bai has built this entire piece around some blog posts. You know you’re reading a really great piece of professional political analysis when the thesis is refuted in the first sentence of the second paragraph. “The idea seems to have little momentum for now,” Bai explains, but then for some reason he continued writing instead of shutting down his MacBook Air and going outside for a nice walk or something….
….As Steve Kornacki explained this morning, Barack Obama’s coalition still loves him and he’s in fine shape for reelection.
Of course, Matt Bai is not a complete idiot. He knows full well that a credible primary challenge from the left is very unlikely. He just wrote this piece because he thinks it would be totally awesome if that did happen. It is like a writer for the Times Science section turning in a piece headlined, “Maybe aliens will give us Warp Drive technology next year, that would be cool.” Save it for your Tumblr, Matt.
Full article here
Washington Independent: Recently, political memes have surfaced that do not have much basis in reality.
Matt Bai of the New York Times sees “murmurs” of a primary challenge against President Obama after he cut a deal with congressional Republicans to extend the tax cuts for the wealthy for two years in exchange for a 13-month unemployment extension, a payroll tax cut and other tax breaks designed to stimulate job growth.
As angry as some liberals are, there isn’t a lot of there there — the article quotes two Huffington Post blogs, a Washington Post op-ed and the head of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who said he isn’t advocating a primary challenge.
Massachusetts Rep. Mike Capuano said he “may or may not” support Barack Obama’s reelection, but he’s not known for holding his tongue. Moreover, Rep. Alcee Hastings (Fla.) said the same thing over the summer. It’s just talk.
Meanwhile, President Obama has an 80 percent approval rating among self-identified liberals, and liberal icons like Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) and Howard Dean have unequivocally said they won’t challenge him.
Full article here
CBS: A column in the New York Times today headlined “Murmurs of Primary Challenge to Obama” is generating buzz about whether the president could face a serious challenge from within his own party in his reelection bid in 2012.
The reality, however, is that such a challenge is extremely unlikely.
…there is a difference between the liberal blogosphere and pundit class – what White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs calls the “professional left” – and the liberal base overall. According to the latest NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, 90 percent of blacks still approve of the president, as do 82 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of liberals. It would seem to be very difficult to mount a successful challenge from the left in light of these numbers.
Add to that the fact that there is no plausible and interested challenger out there – no figure like Ted Kennedy, who challenged (and weakened) Jimmy Carter. Howard Dean and Russ Feingold, perhaps the two most viable options, say they aren’t doing it; Dean said he “is absolutely, categorically not running in 2012,” while Feingold’s spokesman said the Wisconsin Democrat “has no interest in challenging President Obama in 2012.” Rep. Dennis Kucinich has also ruled out a run.
Indeed, the Times column is pretty thin on evidence that there is momentum building for a primary challenge: It points to Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun magazine, former Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. confident Clarence B. Jones and American Prospect co-editor Robert Kuttner. With all due respect to these men, that does not constitute a groundswell of support for a primary challenge.
…despite the juicy Times headline – Mr. Obama doesn’t seem to have much to worry about.
Full article here