The revelation that the federal government has been spying on American citizens for years has woken a sleepy mainstream media to the threat of government overreach and the erosion of civil liberties that civil libertarians have been warning about for years. The liberal outlets of the mainstream media have always been accused of carrying the president’s water, but the recent spate of scandals, including the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, the news that the Department of Justice was going after the Associated Press and Fox News for allegedly being culpable in publicizing leaks that compromised national security, and now the confirmation that the National Security Agency routinely captures the digital data communications of millions of Americans, has led to the type of media-based scrutiny of the Obama administration that conservatives have demanded since Obama first began campaigning for office in 2008.
Obama supporters and detractors are rarely equally outraged over anything about the Obama administration. It is also rather rare that the liberal and conservative mainstream media outlets are in agreement. In this rare moment when liberals and conservatives are in agreement, prompted by their outrage over seemingly egregious violations of good faith, the public trust, and constitutional law, they must take this opportunity to apply pressure to Obama to take a leadership role on some of the pressing issues of the day. These are three issues where liberals and conservatives alike feel the liberal media can apply its pressure on Obama.
1. Demand he put forward a jobs program.
Despite the current erosion of confidence in the administration, two things remain unchanged. Obama’s approval ratings remain stable, and the American people think the most important issue in the country is jobs. The May unemployment numbers showed that the economy is in neutral. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.6% while the number of jobs created, 175,000, was still too low to keep up with population growth. The American Jobs Act was announced in 2011 and since then we haven’t heard much from Obama on that plan. Instead what we have seen is “targeted” messages to special interest groups such as the public works program to create construction jobs or the veterans’ job program, Joining Forces. Jobs for the hard-hit construction industry and veterans are necessary but they do not represent a holistic, comprehensive approach to jobs in America. The liberal media outlets need to blanket the headlines with Obama’s failure to aggressively and consistently push forward a comprehensive job plan for America.
2. Demand that he decriminalize marijuana.
There is no legitimate reason that carcinogenic and addictive products like cigarettes and alcohol are legal while marijuana, which does not have one iota of the long-term detrimental effects of those products, remains illegal. The Pew Research Center found that a majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana, including 65% of young people. Two states have already legalized recreational usage of marijuana and that is likely to grow in the coming years. Several states have legalized medicinal marijuana and several more are looking to decriminalize possession of the drug. Vermont became the 17th state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Federal law still classifies marijuana in the same category as heroin, despite the relatively benign effects when compared to that drug or tobacco — not to mention marijuana's proven medicinal benefits. The liberal media outlets should use their collective influence to force Obama to deal with the disparate treatment of recreational marijuana usage vis-à-vis alcohol and tobacco and at a minimum declassify it as a Schedule 1 narcotic.
3. Demand that he take the lead on immigration reform.
The hope of a comprehensive immigration reform package is slipping away every day. Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), an immigration attorney by trade, has quit the House’s version of the Gang of Eight. Labrador said, “The framework of the bill has changed in a way that I can no longer support.” He has also said that he intends to vote against the House bipartisan bill. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) of the Senate Gang of Eight has begun sending out signals that he will vote against the Senate version if it does not contain stronger border-patrol enforcement measures. Rubio supports an amendment calling for the implementation of a biometric tracking system to assist with border enforcement and said he would not vote for the bill without those provisions, stating, “If those amendments don’t pass, then I think we’ve got a bill that isn’t going to become law and I think we’re wasting our time.” The two leading Hispanic Republicans on immigration are threatening to walk away from the bipartisan effort and that signals doom for any hope that we will achieve a comprehensive plan this congressional term. The liberal media outlets gave Obama a pass in his first term when he did not deliver on immigration reform. They cannot give him a second pass.