Fresh off his whirlwind tour of the Middle East and Europe, Barack Obama appeared before UNITY ’08, the quadrennial gathering of minority journalists.
In advance of his appearance, the Associated Press asked, “Can minority journalists resist applauding Obama?” The AP reporter wrote:
In addition to race, the issue boils down to questions of human emotion, empathy versus ethics, and whether a group that has experienced its own share of prejudice can resist responding to Obama's powerful oratory and potent symbolism.
Has the AP questioned the ethics or objectivity of NBC correspondent Lee Cowan who was caught on tape gushing about Obama, the “rock star?”
Or Chris Matthews who famously emoted:
I have to tell you, you know, it's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often.
My fellow Trotterite Les Payne observed:
African American reporters should be mindful that they are not lapdogs. They should be watchdogs.
Les dismissed the notion that black journalists cannot cover Obama objectively:
They make this charge without support.
I was credentialed to cover the Newspaper Association of America and the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ annual convention. Obama was given a standing ovation during his appearance before the AP’s annual luncheon. At the time, I wrote:
Instead, the questions were “gathered earlier this morning” from the newspaper executives and editors in attendance. They included mostly softballs and one, um, zinger: Tell us why your supporters love you (h/t: Laurie White).
I missed John McCain who addressed the group a few hours earlier. Laurie told me that unlike Obama’s pre-screened questions, folks lined up at a microphone and fired away at McCain.
It speaks volumes about the state of the mainstream media that a question about the meaning of Obamamania was asked, but AP Chairman Dean Singleton announced they were running out of time so they will avoid the “bitter question.”
BTW, it was tough love for McCain. He also received a standing ovation and joked with his former “base” as he fielded questions.