By Kurtz, Howard
Newsweek , Vol. 160, No. 16
Byline: Howard Kurtz
The tape that revealed the media's split personality.
There are, it turns out, truly two Americas--each with its own view of the political landscape, its own media organs, and, increasingly, its own set of facts.
For years, conservatives have been railing against the mainstream media, which to them represents the hard left. Some on the right have gone further lately, challenging the accuracy of a slew of polls by various organizations that, for much of September, showed President Obama with a significant lead over Mitt Romney--or questioning whether the Obama team cooked last week's jobs numbers to gin up some faux economic progress. This, to be blunt, is birther territory.
But there may be no better example of how far the two Americas have diverged than the way they have reacted to a five-year-old videotape of an Obama speech. The speech in question--a 2007 address by then-Senator Obama at Hampton University, in which he spoke about urban despair and black frustration--was posted last week by Tucker Carlson's website, The Daily Caller; trumpeted by Matt Drudge; and aired on Fox News by Sean Hannity. These conservatives treated the video as a shocking expose of a racially divisive president. The rest of the media, however, found little that was newsworthy about the speech.
That left Carlson fuming. "The reaction was disgusting and reflects a larger problem in the press," he told me. "We found something that had not been aired before, and we aired it fully in context -- The initial impulse of many in the press is to suck up to power. I find that contemptible. …