Barack Obama and Fareed Zakaria: Ethical Journalism?


- Following Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East last week – in which Israel and most of its supporters correctly claim the president threw Israel under the bus – CNN’s Fareed Zakaria heaped praise on the man and the message. Of course he did – he probably wrote half the speech – or at the very least, had a hand in crafting it.

After CNN’s Eliot Spitzer revealed last week that Zakaria has been advising Obama on foreign policy matters, Fareed claimed that he’s simply had “off-the-record conversations” with the president on “foreign issues” and that the whole thing is a misunderstanding. Of course it is Fareed. Accepting, (for a moment) that Zakaria’s explanation is correct, should he still not have disclosed that tidbit when he evaluated Obama’s speech? Of course he should have.

So, who is this guy Fareed Zakaria anyway? In December of last year, I wrote an article entitled CNN’s Fareed Zakaria: The American People are the Problem,  in which I commented on Zakaria’s take on America:

“The Chinese are the ones who should be celebrating Thanksgiving and we should be having a big Mardi Gras party, but that’s what ‘we’ pick up, a kind of a culture of over-consumption. The people are the big problem. I mean, Americans – everybody wants to say the American people are so wonderful. You know, I think that when they come to recognize that they have to make sacrifices too, that it’s not just wasteful – they need to have – they need to recognize that some of what’s going to happen here is fewer. They have to consume fewer things. They have to accept higher taxes.” 

So goes the worldview of Fareed Zakaria. The “real problem” is the American people; we are spoiled and overindulgent; we must spend less, accept higher taxes, and stop being so selfish. Is this an internationalist marriage made in wealth-redistribution heaven, or what? Barack Obama feels exactly the same way.

The story of Zakaria’s meetings with Obama became a discussion of journalistic credibility early last week. While the New York Times article praised Obama for “sounding out prominent journalists like Zakaria,” (of course it did) more objective and credible sources had a different take:

Should a journalist offer “objective” public analysis on the policies of a president whom he is advising on the very topics he is assessing? On his own television program, no less?

After several internet outlets reported that Zakaria was advising the president, Zakaria posted on his website Saturday that those reports were “inaccurate” and that he simply had some “off-the-record” conversations with the president, who had never asked him for advice.

While it follows that Obama – Mr. Know-it-all – doesn’t seem to need advice from anyone  on anything, Zakaria and CNN had a journalistic obligation to disclose his “off-the-record” conversations with the president. They would have demanded no less from Fox News, Sean Hannity and George Bush.

At least the Keith Olbermanns and Ed Schultzes of the world are honest – in your face – unabashed apologists for Barack Obama and everything he does. Fareed Zakaria is no such man – choosing instead to pass himself off as an objective enlightened intellectual – the most insidious kind of all.

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Categories: Barack Obama, Hypocrisy, Journalism, Media Bias, Politics

8 replies

  1. Scoundrels and knaves. CNN makes Pravda look like a bastion of conservatism.

    Interesting that Zakaria asserts that we have to “consume fewer things” while we “accept higher taxes.” In other words, individuals tighten their belts so that their wealth is increasingly turned over to the government. A recipe for slavery, or, as you aptly put it, “wealth redistribution heaven.”

    The cockroaches are becoming increasingly emboldened, no longer afraid to scurry across the floor without cover.

  2. The cockroaches are in charge, ethics have vanished into relativism and Zakaria has his Joe Biden moments, blurting out inconvenient truth. But no worries…he won’t be believed either.

  3. Good post. I don’t know who the guy is but I’ll find out. CNN doesn’t work well out here now. He has little knowledgew of America if he thinks we haven’t had to tighten our belts. I was born in poverty and know belt tightening. I still have problems shaking of the way you did thing then and how you do them now. We are the only nation to be this rich and this only happened since the 50’s. Russia thought we were too weak and soft, but guess what, they found we weren’t. We’re tough, we bounce back and we do enjoy the pleasures of wealth.

  4. Zakaria should go back to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh whichever country he can be truly loyal — if that is at all possible for him. If he were to present his anti-national opinions in Bangladesh or Pakistan they would hang him.

  5. 2:40pm, 04.Nov.08Done! And lucky enough to arrvie during a quiet time. My husband showed up at the poll at 7:15 this morning and had to wait nearly 90 minutes. And now, concentrating hard on that hope and waiting for the results to start rollign in.{}

  6. Sorry for the misquote.Michael: To that exetnt, I agree with your comments, although to say further on that you don’t agree that China is overproducing and the US overconsuming is a little strange since both clearly are. That is what the trade account tells us.The fact is that the US is saving little, China is saving a lot, and we have a huge trade imbalance. However to say that this is overconsumption and overproduction implies that the optimal situation is a net zero trade balance, and that isn’t obvious to me that this is the situation, and it’s hard for me to find someone state clearly why zero trade balance is the optimal situation, and I can think of some obvious reasons why it may not be.Same goes true with the statement that China invests too much and consumes too little. It’s not self-evidentally obvious what the optimal rates of Chinese savings and investment are.Also correlation is not causation. It’s true that US household savings rates went down when Chinese reserve accumulation went up, but there were also fifty other things that were going on at the same time.Something that actually helps me figure separate out causation from correlation is to look at my own behavior and to true to figure out what the drivers of on my own behavior. In my own case, savings rates end up being where they are because incomes are stagnant and volatile and house prices were going crazy. Similarly, I don’t think you are going to understand why a Chinese household saves so much by looking at tables of numbers. You get better data by finding someone on the street, and just asking them how much they save and why.sharpe_mind: We should remember that the US savings rate was only low when using the narrow definition of saving through bank deposits and the like, not when measuring by overall net wealth which includes all assets (assets which were one of the US’s strongest exports).The problem is that those assets included house prices and stocks and those are tanking. This is why I think that the US wasn’t overconsuming, it was just that what savings there was being directed at the wrong assets. Fundamentally, the important driver of economic growth is productivity, and there were enough productivity gains between 2001 and 2007 to sustain US levels of consumption.

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