Those skits on “Saturday Night Live” depicting debate moderators swooning over Barack Obama and snarling at Hillary Clinton finally shamed the MSM into taking a harder line at the putative Dem frontrunner. 

In an article carrying the snarkilicious headline “Ask Tough Questions? Yes, They Can!,” Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank describes a press conference Obama held in San Antonio on Monday: 

[A] smiling Obama strode out to a news conference at a veterans facility here. But the grin was quickly replaced by the surprised look of a man bitten by his own dog. 

Reporters from the Associated Press and Reuters went after him for his false denial that a campaign aide had held a secret meeting with Canadian officials over Obama’s trade policy. A trio of Chicago reporters pummeled him with questions about the corruption trial this week of a friend and supporter. The New York Post piled on with a question about him losing the Jewish vote. 

Obama responded with the classic phrases of a politician in trouble. “That was the information that I had at the time. … Those charges are completely unrelated to me. … I have said that that was a mistake. … The fact pattern remains unchanged.” 

When those failed, Obama tried another approach. “We’re running late,” the candidate said, and then he disappeared behind a curtain. 

Journalists are notoriously thin-skinned and as The Politico’s Jim VandeHei and John Harris note, “’SNL’s’ mockery went straight to reporters’ insecurities. Being accused of falling ‘in the tank’ for a candidate is the journalistic equivalent of a nerdish high school freshman getting a wedgie from the jocks.” 

The pendulum is already swinging in the other direction, thanks to “SNL,” reports Katherine Seelye of The New York Times. She cites a Pew Research Center study analyzing media coverage of Obama and Clinton between February 25 to March 2, the period that coincides with the airing of the two “SNL” skits lampooning the Dem debates: 

Now comes evidence that the publicizing by the Clinton campaign and the news media may have helped flip the coverage as it questioned Mr. Obama more aggressively. 

Mr. Obama was the subject of 69 percent of all campaign articles last week … and Mrs. Clinton was the subject of 58 percent of articles about the election … 

Mr. Obama generated more coverage than any candidate in any other week this year.

“The media scrutinized everything from his legislative record to his connections to Louis Farrakhan, and frequently addressed the question of whether journalists have been too soft on the front-runner for the Democratic nomination,” the study said. 

In addition, many articles about Antoin Rezko, a Chicago builder who was a fund-raiser for Mr. Obama, reported on the start of his trial on kickback charges. Mr. Obama is not implicated in the case. But the two were involved in a land deal. Mrs. Clinton’s coverage level last week was also the highest for her, the report said, and it was less negative than it had been. 

The Boston Globe observes that Obama, who was hitherto coasting to his party’s nomination, suddenly found himself with “two stubborn opponents: Hillary Clinton – vowing to continue her campaign after victories in Texas, Rhode Island, and Ohio – and a long-delayed but growing media backlash against his candidacy.” The paper gives “SNL” props: 

For two months, the Illinois senator dominated the national zeitgeist with his “yes, we can” message of hope and change, a phenomenon celebrated in YouTube videos and T-shirts. But his recent return to earth coincided with the settling of the TV writers’ strike and the reemergence of late-night comedy shows as a political force. 

Comics are quick to impose a story line and make it stick: Their jokes spring from common knowledge about the candidates – John McCain’s age, Clinton’s marital troubles, Mike Huckabee’s frequent professions of faith. 

“Saturday Night Live,” the granddaddy of all political comedy shows, chose to build its Obama narrative around the idea that reporters were completely in his thrall. And its skits – on both Feb. 23 and March 1 – presented Obama as an amiable guy inflated to hero status by a worshipful media. 

In order to save face and prove the “SNL” satirists wrong, reporters are going to follow up on every tip and allegation the Clinton machine’s oppo researchers whisper in their ears. Obama has no idea what he’s in for, the poor fellow. 

By the way: Check out “Obama Speaks!,” Larry Elder’s devastating parody of an Obama speech.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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