At the New York Times, a change in the weather!


Kantor brings in the snark: On the front page of yesterday’s New York Times, Jodi Kantor brought in the snark.

She was snarking hard—at Barack Obama. We’d call it a change in the weather.

The press corps’ coverage of Big Major Dems changed with Obama’s arrival. From 1992 on, Big Democrats had largely been covered on the Bill Clinton model.

Their truthfulness was always in question. Candidate Gore was the world’s biggest liar. Candidate Kerry was a hopeless flip-flopper, even when he wasn’t flip-flopping.

Hillary Clinton was Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama was not.

Yesterday, Kantor brought in a mountain of snark. Her 1900-word front-page profile stressed what a self-impressed asshole Barack Obama is.

For the first time, we saw Obama being profiled on some of the Clinton/Gore frameworks. Kantor’s profile contrasted sharply with Michael Barbaro’s stenographic front-page profile of Romney, published just four days before.

Kantor really let it go. She even made a point to tell us how often Obama has played golf while in the White House. (On average, once every two weeks—though Kantor didn’t break her big number down that way.) She calls in shape-shifting Matthew Dowd to say that George Bush was full of himself, just the way this asshole is.

Trust us—this represents a change in the weather. Obama is an insufferable asshole! That's what Kantor keeps telling the world in this otherwise pointless profile:
KANTOR (9/3/12): When Mr. Obama was derided as an insufferable overachiever in an early political race, some of his friends were infuriated; to them, he was revising negative preconceptions of what a black man could achieve.

But even those loyal to Mr. Obama say that his quest for excellence can bleed into cockiness and that he tends to overestimate his capabilities. The cloistered nature of the White House amplifies those tendencies, said Matthew Dowd, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, adding that the same thing happened to his former boss. ''There's a reinforcing quality,'' he said, a tendency for presidents to think, I'm the best at this.

And though Mr. Obama craves high grades from the electorate and from history, he is in a virtual dead heat with Mr. Romney in national polls, the political equivalent of school progress reports.

For someone dealing with the world's weightiest matters, Mr. Obama spends surprising energy perfecting even less consequential pursuits. He has played golf 104 times since becoming president, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who monitors his outings, and he asks superior players for tips that have helped lower his scores. He decompresses with card games on Air Force One, but players who do not concentrate risk a reprimand (''You're not playing, you're just gambling,'' he once told Arun Chaudhary, his former videographer).

His idea of birthday relaxation is competing in an Olympic-style athletic tournament with friends, keeping close score. The 2009 version ended with a bowling event. Guess who won, despite his history of embarrassingly low scores? The president, it turned out, had been practicing in the White House alley.

When he reads a book to children at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, Mr. Obama seems incapable of just flipping open a volume and reading. In 2010, he began by announcing that he would perform ''the best rendition ever'' of ''Green Eggs and Ham,'' ripping into his Sam-I-Ams with unusual conviction. Two years later at the same event, he read ''Where the Wild Things Are'' with even more animation, roooooaring his terrible roar and gnaaaaashing his terrible teeth. By the time he got to the wild rumpus, he was howling so loudly that Bo, the first dog, joined in.

Asked if there was anything at which the president allowed himself to just flat-out fail, Mr. Nesbitt gave a long pause. ''If he picks up something new, at first he's not good, but he'll work until he gets better,'' he said.

Mr. Obama's fixation on prowess can get him into trouble. Not everyone wants to be graded by him, certainly not Republicans. Mr. Dowd, the former Bush adviser, said he admired Mr. Obama, but added, ''Nobody likes to be in the room with someone who thinks they're the smartest person in the room.''
Obama even insults his aides about the way they play cards! In addition to all that golf, he practices bowling when he ought to be working! He can’t even read a story to kids without behaving this way!

Finally, we're handed a phrase live-and-direct from the War Against Gore: Obama, the asshole described herein, seems to think he’s “the smartest guy in the room!”

Kantor’s work has always been worthless; what’s notable here is the change in the weather. By way of contrast, read the corresponding profile of Candidate Romney, in which fan-boy Barbaro did everything but lick the gentleman’s hindquarters for him.

He plainly recited every tale the Romney camp wants you to hear. Candidate Romney had to be persuaded to run for presdient!

Barbaro’s upbeat profile was pure stenography. In her corresponding piece, Kantor assembled a hack attack.

Each of those profiles was strikingly bad, but they diverged in opposite ways. We can’t explain those divergent profiles, but we’ll offer a word of warning:

This is the way the New York Times covered Candidates Bush and Gore. In that race, they started some twenty nonths out.

Are they tilting to that model now?


  1. Jo Becker had another harsh article in the Times a couple of days ago, The Other Power in the West Wing

    The article demonstrates that Jarrett is perhaps the most powerful of Obama's aids. However, the subtext is that Jarrett is making decisions that one would think were Obama's. As one observer put it, it implies that Jarrett is Obama's puppet master.

    Is it possible that the Times is writing ariticles critical of Obama because they're true?

    1. Is it possible that people live in California because they are inane?

      Horace Feathers

    2. Is it possible that certain trolls living in their mother's basement spend all day refreshing the Howler page over and over and over again every 10 seconds so they can be the VERY FIRST to comment on every post?

      I'd say that's more likely.

    3. "Is it possible that the Times is writing ariticles critical of Obama because they're true?"

      Oy! A piece of my brain just died after reading that comment.

  2. John Cusak interviewed Jonathan Turley about President Obama's fidelity to the constitution.

    Some media critics might wonder why this topic isn't covered by MSNBC and The New York Times.

    Oh, look out. There is use of the a-hole word.

    One is forced to asked the question: Is the President just another Ivy League Asshole shredding civil liberties and due process and sending people to die in some shithole for purely political reasons?

  3. This blog needs a breaking news thread.

    He’s impossibly young, infuriatingly accomplished, and impressively wonky. In a town full of journalistic flop sweat, he glides instead of glistens, handsome enough to make the ladies turn their heads, and affable enough that their boyfriends compete for his attentions, too. Like ripples around a stone, influential circles appear seemingly wherever he dips his toe. Washington insiders seek his ear, New York magazines compete for his byline, and older journalists puzzle over how he could master journalism’s technological revolution and the northeastern media corridor well shy of his 30th birthday.

    Of course, I’m talking about Ezra Klein, the 28-year-old “wonkblogger” whose visage and byline are everywhere these days, from The Washington Post to MSNBC, Bloomberg View to The New Yorker.

    1. And it fails even to mention his greatest gift, the thing without which it seems no DC pundit can succeed: his talent for being overrated.

  4. I'm surprised Jodi Kantor didn't just go straight to 'uppity'.

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  6. The Kantor piece ran on the front page on the same day Krugman, on the op-ed page, discussed Ryan's exaggeration about his marathon time. I felt like the Times was trying to distract me from the obsessively competitive Republican: "Hey, look over here, not over there!"

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