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Dec 2, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden has promised what he calls a return to "decency" and "unity," and American media has broadly characterized his victory over Donald Trump as, in the words of New York Times columnist Charles Blow, "The Third Term of the Obama Presidency." Many of the same holdovers — Samantha Power, Antony Blinken, Michèle Flournoy, Bob McDonald, Jake Sullivan, Susan Rice, Sally Yates, John Kerry and many in the revolving think tank, consulting outfits, marketing firms, undersecretary advisor world are expected to be back into the White House come January 20, 2021.

While they have many obvious superficial differences, the Obama and Biden White Houses will more or less borrow from the same playbook: slick, marketing-focused, technocratic, centrist, hawkish maintainers of the neoliberal status quo. As such, many lessons can be learned from the media’s coverage of the Obama White house and what mistakes not to repeat again.

From Obama’s prosecution of foreign occupations to directing dirty wars, supporting the destruction of Yemen to running a drone strike regime, pushing austerity dogma to continue the brutal war on drugs, inhumane immigration enforcement to many routine cruel and violent policies — because they lacked the partisan hook and sadistic fervor of Trump — were largely ignored, downplayed, or soft pedaled by U.S. media from 2009 to the beginning of 2017.

This is Part I of a two-part episode breaking down these "media mistakes" - major areas where the American press failed to hold the most powerful person in the world to account. We explore how the Obama era may provide a blueprint of what we may expect under the upcoming Biden administration and how activists can get ahead of these failures before they inevitably manifest.

Our guest is Peter Hart, National Communications Manager for Food & Water Watch.