Is there any accusation that could be made about President Obama that Beltway reporters wouldn't be willing to credulously report? Is there anything that would make them frame their reporting of those accusations around the premise that the charges are ridiculous? Today, Time's Mark Halperin suggests there is not.
Under the headline "Student Speech Courts Controversy," Halperin writes: "Critics accuse the president of imposing a political agenda on children during next week's address." That is how he has decided to frame the conservative movement's bizarre, unhinged attack on the President of the United States for his terrifying plan to… tell the nation's students that it's important to stay in school and work hard. It's a "Controversy"! The president has "critics"! Are their criticisms legitimate? Who knows! There's a link to an AP article on the "controversy" if you actually want some of those dreadful details.
It's worth noting that in claiming their criticisms hinge on fears that Obama is planning to "impos[e] a political agenda on children," Halperin is significantly soft-peddling the lunatic whack-a-doo tin-foil conspiracy nut nature of conservatives' complaints. They aren't saying Obama will teach kids about the importance of universal health care or stopping global warming – they're accusing the president of engaging in Maoist indoctrination in an attempt to create his own Hitler Youth.
There is something wrong with these people. As long as Beltway reporters like Halperin keep treating their complaints as valid, they will maintain a hold on our discourse that prevents serious discussion of actual issues. And no, reporting that "critics" say that Obama is planning to indoctrinate students but the Obama administration denies it does not suffice. Resorting to "he said/she said" journalism when one side's claims are blatantly ridiculous is just pathetic.