Does The British Media Have an "Obama complex"?

#1
I wondered what you Brits have to say about your media's coverage of His Highness?


The British press's Obama complex


Kenneth P. Vogel – Sat Sep 26, 7:43 pm ET

After the latest week’s worth of British press reports that there’s no love lost in the White House for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, even his one-on-one meeting Friday with President Obama only provided the papers across the pond with a reason for another round of stories.

Since Obama burst onto the international scene last year, newspapers in the United Kingdom have spilled gallons of ink on his perceived slights of British leaders, and especially Brown.

To be sure, the “Special Relationship” between the U.S. and the U.K. has long been a favorite topic for the notoriously sensational British papers, but interest seems to have spiked since Obama’s 2008 campaign world tour swung through London for visits with top British leaders.

The local press claimed that Obama confided in aides that while he found former Prime Minister Tony Blair impressive, he thought Brown was boring, and dismissed Tory leader David Cameron as “a lightweight.”

While Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush went to great lengths to highlight his affection for Blair – earning the president generally favorable treatment, while the prime minister was frequently caricatured as the American’s poodle – the British press breathlessly reported on an array of alleged slights of Brown during Obama’s first 100 days as president.

Though the does-Obama-like-us-or-not storyline adds little to the public debate, expect to see more of it in British media for at least until the elections there in May, said Scott Lucas, a former American journalist who moved to the U.K. in 1984 and is a professor at the University of Birmingham specializing in U.S. and British foreign policy.

Lucas, who maintains a blog about U.S. foreign policy, conceded that stories about Obama’s feelings towards British leaders are hot since Obama is immensely popular in Western Europe, while Brown, a favorite punching bag for the British press, is lagging in U.K. polls and is expected to be trounced by Cameron’s Tory Party in next May’s election.

After Obama took office, the papers pounced in February when Obama returned to the British government a bust of legendary Prime Minister Winston Churchill, which Bush had displayed in the Oval Office. The Telegraph reported that “Barack Obama has sent Sir Winston Churchill packing and pulse rates soaring among anxious British diplomats.”

When Brown visited in March, he gave Obama a pen holder carved from the wood of the 19th century British warship HMS President and a first-edition of Sir Martin Gilbert’s seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill. Obama reciprocated with 25 DVDs of American movie classics – “a gift about as exciting as a pair of socks,” whined a Daily Mail columnist.

That’s to say nothing of the offense taken by the perceived inequity between the Obamas’ and Browns’ gifts to each others’ kids.

Brown's wife Sarah gave Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia dresses and matching necklaces from a trendy U.K. store and a selection of books by British authors, while First Lady Michelle Obama responded with toy models of Marine One for the Brown’s two little boys “While Sarah Brown had spent time choosing gifts for the Obama girls, Michelle had clearly sent an aide to the White House gift shop at the last moment,” asserted a columnist for The Daily Telegraph, who declared the Obama’s reception of the Browns “appalling” and “rudeness personified” and concluded “All in all, (Obama) doesn’t think much of us.”

Though White House aides brushed off the British analyses as ridiculous, they did release an unusually-detailed readout of Obama’s post-visittelephone call to Brown, in which the President again expressed gratitude for the gifts and said he put the pen holder on his Oval Office desk and had put the Churchill biography in his private study.

“It is really lazy journalism,” Lucas said, because it misses real tensions between the two nations, including divergent strategies on stabilizing Afghanistan and the diminishing importance of bilateral relationships.

But with Brown and Obama both spending this week with other international leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, the British press has a perfect backdrop for a new round of stories on the Obama-Brown relationship—and they did not disappoint.

With the two leaders in New York earlier in the week juggling private meetings and public remarks on major issues from climate change to Middle East peace, British papers reported Wednesday that the White House had "snubbed" Brown by refusing five separate requests over the course of five days for one-on-one talks, even as Obama held bilateral meetings in New York with Chinese president Hu Jintao, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, and Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama.

The British press traveling with Brown reportedly dubbed the story “Snubgate,” and some reports attributed Obama’s purported displeasure to the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison. The Daily Telegraph asserted the snubs “appeared to have left ‘the special relationship’ at its lowest ebb for nearly 20 years.”

And it didn’t help things when Brown’s press office revealed that the two men got to spend between 10 and 15 minutes together Thursday – as they walked through the kitchens of the United Nation’s headquarters.

The Independent’s headline blared “Brown's attempts to meet star of the show end in the kitchen.” The Daily Mail called it “a bizarre 'kitchen summit',” while The Daily Mirror reported that “the meeting raised fears the President was trying to downgrade the special relationship with Britain as other world leaders had formal meetings with him.”

The Telegraph questioned the duration of the walk-and-talk, asserting “the claim raised the question of how the pair managed to spend so long in a room UN staff said was no more than a 50 yards long,” though the story also noted that Obama patted Brown on the back as the two left a meeting of the Security Council together.

Later Thursday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs flatly rejected questions about the alleged snubs and chided the American reporters who asked about their British colleagues’ reports to “Stop reading those London tabloids.”

“The notion that there remains anything other than a special relationship between the two countries is silly and absurd,” Gibbs said, calling the claims “a media-generated bunch of silliness.”

Stories about the special relationship, though, have been a staple of British media since the Cold War and have shaped the way Brits see the world, said Nicholas Cull, a U.K. native who directs the masters program in public diplomacy at the University of Southern California.

“British people come here and they’re surprised that America has special relationships with a lot of countries,” he said. “It’s rather like finding out that you’re father is a bigamist. I found it to be a very strange experience to find that the story that I’d heard growing up wasn’t necessarily so.”

After the two heads of state finally had their formal bilateral meeting, a 30-minute sit-down in a side room at the G-20 leaders' summit which came after they appeared side-by-side at a press conference condemning recently revealed Iranian uranium enrichment activities, Brown lashed out at the British press, accusing them of an “obsession” with the special relationship and urging them to focus on “big issues” and to learn how “diplomacy really works.”

“I have been meeting the President all week and I am not going to get into this game," he said. “We have talked about Iran, we have talked about Afghanistan for the third time this week and we have talked about the global economic crisis."

The London Times, in a story headlined “Success at last: Brown enjoys private meeting with Obama at G20,” asserted that “the meeting was arranged after Mr. Brown was humiliated when his unsuccessful attempts to fix a private encounter with the President were exposed.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090926/pl_politico/27611
 
#2
If it does, it's nowhere near as concerted as that of certain sectors of the US media and population, who have a completely biased and openly partisan dislike to him.

I found this article an eye-opener as to some of the more questionable American attitudes to Obama: Who is Barak Obama?


And then there's this wee head-scratcher, as the level of fuckwittage on display here is just stultifying. This next clip is of the 'Tea Bag Party' in Washington DC, on 12th Sept 2009 (yes, I know, over here, 'teabagging' means something completely different, which makes it all the more hilarious, but there you have it) - they are "protesting", if that's the correct description, about Obama's outrageous plan to try and extend meaningful healthcare to all Americans, as opposed to only those who can afford it - hold on to your tin hats lads, there are some real Jethros and Bennies on display here - it would be funny if it wasn't so tragically ill-informed:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUPMjC9mq5Y&feature=player_embedded
 
#3
I like him and would happily vote for him if we had the choice.

He will be one of Americas greater Presidents and will win a second term.
 
#4
Tommy said:
hold on to your tin hats lads, there are some real Jethros and Bennies on display here - it would be funny if it wasn't so tragically ill-informed:
I like the little wheel on the Cross at 2 mins 12.

Is it historically accurate do you think?
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#5
Only in as much as they reflect the position of British politicians and their desperate desire to be wanted by Obama. Witness Cyclops' utterly cringe-worthy neurosis over who would be the first to speak to Obama and congratulate him on his victory. Simply out of a need to be seen as a world statesman.

It's frankly pathetic.
 
#8
After the two heads of state finally had their formal bilateral meeting, a 30-minute sit-down in a side room at the G-20 leaders' summit which came after they appeared side-by-side at a press conference condemning recently revealed Iranian uranium enrichment activities, Brown lashed out at the British press, accusing them of an “obsession” with the special relationship and urging them to focus on “big issues” and to learn how “diplomacy really works.”
Gordon Brown is not a head of state. :x
 
#9
ronnie12398 said:
Oil_Slick said:
He will be one of Americas greater Presidents and will win a second term.
Not a chance. You don't have a fucking clue.

Sure, and you think intellectual minnows like Sarah 'I can see Russia' Palin would win the next term? :roll:
 
#10
A keep hearing about the people objecting to Obama's healthcare plan, how they're apparently all gun-totin', Bible-bashin', cross-burnin', gay-bashin' inbreds, but I'm yet to see/hear a single report anywhere except in the Economist on what the plan is, and what the stated objections to it are. The press are obsessed with him, he can do no wrong so why debate his policies?
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
ronnie12398 said:
Oil_Slick said:
He will be one of Americas greater Presidents and will win a second term.
Not a chance. You don't have a fucking clue.
No - he's right you know.

The bar was set so lowly by the last few of them that even Brown couldn't fail to get a second term.
 
#12
Biped said:
ronnie12398 said:
Oil_Slick said:
He will be one of Americas greater Presidents and will win a second term.
Not a chance. You don't have a fucking clue.
No - he's right you know.

The bar was set so lowly by the last few of them that even Brown couldn't fail to get a second term.





"They misunderestimated me."
 
#13
Tommy said:
If it does, it's nowhere near as concerted as that of certain sectors of the US media and population, who have a completely biased and openly partisan dislike to him.

I found this article an eye-opener as to some of the more questionable American attitudes to Obama: Who is Barak Obama?


And then there's this wee head-scratcher, as the level of fuckwittage on display here is just stultifying. This next clip is of the 'Tea Bag Party' in Washington DC, on 12th Sept 2009 (yes, I know, over here, 'teabagging' means something completely different, which makes it all the more hilarious, but there you have it) - they are "protesting", if that's the correct description, about Obama's outrageous plan to try and extend meaningful healthcare to all Americans, as opposed to only those who can afford it - hold on to your tin hats lads, there are some real Jethros and Bennies on display here - it would be funny if it wasn't so tragically ill-informed:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUPMjC9mq5Y&feature=player_embedded
This is a very interesting view in that many in the US believe just the opposite, including even some of the US media's own internal "watch dogs" (ombudsmen and the like) of various media sources such as the NY Times, Washington Post and CBS have conceded that their editorial staffs and reporters have in fact been too cozy with Obama.

Indeed, to its credit, the UK media has picked up on this phenomenon and pointed out the hypocrisy and lack of journalistic balance in the "coverage" of the recent demonstration in Washington DC where an extremely large (even on this issue the US media obfuscated the real significance of the gathering by arguing over the actual number of people present) and peaceful crowd of protestors expressed discontent with the current government.

I am confident when the history of this era is written in terms of the nature of its journalism, it will be an indictment on the US media generally in abdicating its special role in our Constitutional system of holding our government accountable to the people for its actions. It is this vital function, rather than telling "inquiring minds" which Hollywood starlet is shagging which Hollywood hunk or even worse shamelessly serving as the propaganda organ for the current government, that is the reason for the special protection afforded it in our Constitution.
 
#14
ronnie12398 said:
Oil_Slick said:
He will be one of Americas greater Presidents and will win a second term.
Not a chance. You don't have a fucking clue.
I seem to recall you saying the same thing about his first election. Going for the hat-trick, are we?
 
#15
Krek_Brizzle said:
A keep hearing about the people objecting to Obama's healthcare plan, how they're apparently all gun-totin', Bible-bashin', cross-burnin', gay-bashin' inbreds, but I'm yet to see/hear a single report anywhere except in the Economist on what the plan is, and what the stated objections to it are. The press are obsessed with him, he can do no wrong so why debate his policies?
Very insightful KB. In point of fact, if you could actually see the protests against Obamacare and other efforts by the current government, you would see these descriptors are false, lending even more support to the view of a growing number of Americans that the media is generally acting as a propaganda arm for the government.

Having been one of those present at the recent demonstration in Washington DC and having moved around the crowd a good deal, I saw a very broad spectrum of people expressing their dissatisfaction with the direction of our government. It is very telling that the most outspoken critics of these protests both in and out of the current government appear to be questioning not only their message but even more ominously their right to protest. It is also ironic and hypocritical that the violent protests against the G20 summit draw no similar condemnation.

As reputable polling is demonstrating quite convincingly--even as late as yesterday with the Rasmussen poll, as more and more Americans become familiar with the actual provisions of the proposed health care bill(s), opposition to them grows dramatically.

This is another reason why the proponents of these efforts by the current government, apparently including many in the US media, want to speed up the process and to silence opposition in any way possible.
 
#16
jumpinjarhead said:
As reputable polling is demonstrating quite convincingly--even as late as yesterday with the Rasmussen poll, as more and more Americans become familiar with the actual provisions of the proposed health care bill(s), opposition to them grows dramatically.
So Jarhead, since you're here, why do you object to Obamacare?
 
#17
If I have understood correctly from the newspapers over here, US citizens have to pay 18% of their income on healthcare insurance if they are not in an occupational welfare scheme (which costs half as much). I suspect that the proportion of income spent on healthcare would drop if a national health service was implemented, even if that meant taking on those currently rejected by the system for being too sick (and stand by to be corrected on this point). The spare money on the consumers' pockets could then be spent in the shops. Speaking from Scotland, that means I can hope for increased exports of whisky to the good old U. S. of A. while people celebrate their de facto pay rise.
 
#18
Krek_Brizzle said:
jumpinjarhead said:
As reputable polling is demonstrating quite convincingly--even as late as yesterday with the Rasmussen poll, as more and more Americans become familiar with the actual provisions of the proposed health care bill(s), opposition to them grows dramatically.
So Jarhead, since you're here, why do you object to Obamacare?
I have as, they say, a plethora of reasons, some of which are posted on other threads. I am happy to discuss but don't want to divert this thread to far. What is your (you and others) preference-another thread or PMs?
 
#19
Krek_Brizzle said:
A keep hearing about the people objecting to Obama's healthcare plan, how they're apparently all gun-totin', Bible-bashin', cross-burnin', gay-bashin' inbreds, but I'm yet to see/hear a single report anywhere except in the Economist on what the plan is, and what the stated objections to it are. The press are obsessed with him, he can do no wrong so why debate his policies?
To be fair, when anyone can attempt to explain whatever 'Plan' President George Gump, and his Neo-Con cabal, was working to to fcuk things up so gloriously, then I might take the above seriously.

Has anyone else noticed that the Republicans (ably supported by their Rush Limbaugh-like radio demagogues) have now managed to convince themselves that the global credit crunch meltdown, and the parlous state of the US economy, is now, somehow, miraculously, solely Obama's fault? They choose to be convinced that in the short 8 months since Obama came to power, that he has, single-handedly,****ed things up just to spite the Republicans?

It's like they've collectively managed to acquire selective amnesia about the previous 8 years of the Gump administration's disastrous captaincy.

I think this is what they refer to as blinkered-by-choice.
 
#20
jumpinjarhead said:
Krek_Brizzle said:
jumpinjarhead said:
As reputable polling is demonstrating quite convincingly--even as late as yesterday with the Rasmussen poll, as more and more Americans become familiar with the actual provisions of the proposed health care bill(s), opposition to them grows dramatically.
So Jarhead, since you're here, why do you object to Obamacare?
I have as, they say, a plethora of reasons, some of which are posted on other threads. I am happy to discuss but don't want to divert this thread to far. What is your (you and others) preference-another thread or PMs?
We could keep it on track if you could perhaps single out one sample issue siezed on by the UK press, and then say why you think it supports or refutes the charge. Personally, I think the UK press is reflecting the negative comments, but I cannot comment on their motives for that.
 

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