Evan Thomas on Obama the God: 'I Was Not Being Literal'

In a new Newsweek feature called "The Ripple Effect," Evan Thomas confessed in the June 22 issue to being nailed by MRC and other media critics for comparing Obama to God on MSNBC - or so it seemed, he wrote:

I don't just put my foot in my mouth on television - I do it at dinner parties, too - but at least, in that case, it doesn't show up on YouTube. Appearing on Hardball With Chris Matthews on June 5, I compared President Obama with God.

Or at least that's how it seemed to some bloggers and talk-show hosts, who made me a poster child for the argument that the liberal press is hopelessly in love with Obama.

That's how it seemed? (Thomas on Hardball back on June 5: "In a way Obama's standing above the country, above - above the world, he's sort of God.") Thomas's attempts to place Obama above the fray - whether he's in Heaven or merely three feet above the Washington wrestling ring - obviously and strenously tried to put Obama above partisanship (which he's not, blaming Bush for most of our problems) and above political calculation (which's he's not, and if he were, they'd be concerned). In "The Perils of Punditry: How bloggers turned me into the poster child for the argument that the liberal press loves Obama," Thomas continued:

What I said was: "In a way, Obama's standing above the country, above - above the world, a sort of god." I was not being literal. During a discussion about presidential rhetoric, I was comparing Ronald Reagan's patriotic appeals with Obama's attempt to transcend parochialism.

It is a source of some amusement to my colleagues that I've been singled out like this because, though I'm known as a blurter, my politics wobble between right of center and left of center. I have actually been a frequent critic of liberal bias in the press. As for the "god" comment, the night after the election I popped off on Charlie Rose that there was a "slightly creepy cult of personality" about Obama. That enraged Obama supporters.

I could complain about being "taken out of context" this time, but I scoff when politicians do that. I've never had much success in watching what I say, and I enjoy going on TV. So sooner or later, experience has taught me, I'll wind up writing another one of these things.

Thomas did not make the mental connection that he's gone from identifying a "creepy cult of personality" to sounding like he's deeply entranced in one. You don't have to believe Obama is "literally" God - even suggesting he's God as a metaphor carries the tinny echo of a cult member.

- Tim Graham is Director of Media Analysis at the Media Research Center.