The unfolding and intriguing Syria crisis puts added pressure on the U.S. media as it continues to assess the performance of President Barack Obama in his second term.
Obama's supporters carp that the president can't win for losing in the journalism community. They now point to this situation as proof, too. They want the world's citizens to commend Obama for showing remarkable restraint in his decision to go to the U.S. Congress and seek some measure of approval from that august body of public servants before taking any decisive military action in Syria.
Instead, the New York Post, for instance, greeted Obama with a headline accusing the president of passing the buck. It's not easy being the commander in chief of the world sometimes, eh? Can't win for losing, remember?
Meanwhile, POTUS is hardly the only party here feeling a strain about Syria. The American media community also has a big challenge in front of it. As reporters, headline scribes, and editorial writers all proceed to weigh in, they must consider that their reactions will likely help or hurt Obama's efforts now and in the future — as well as his presidential image, not to mention his historical legacy
It would be the ultimate irony if a chronic Obama nemesis in the fourth-estate felt the need to come out and show support for his executive decision regarding Syria. The very possibility raises a lot of pertinent questions: Would the honeymoon last long? Would it embolden the president to assume he has a mandate among the universe of formerly hostile and outspoken American media members?
Now that last question should raise enough permutations to fill up the lazy afternoon hours for days on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and, yes, the new kid on the cable-television block, Al Jazeera America.
Plenty of journalists are still kicking themselves for not being more vocal about their disagreement over the invasion of Iraq a decade ago. Now they and their brethren have the task of making sense of Obama's Syria strategy. It is no less easy to understand what a president wants to accomplish in what may well be an impossible diplomatic, if not military, scenario.
Jon Friedman writes the Media Matrix blog for Indiewire.com. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)Invention, Shunning the Naysayers, and Creating a Personal Revolution." Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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