The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf laments that
the tenures of Presidents Bush and Obama have shown us that supposedly conservative outlets routinely failed to challenge profoundly unconservative policies, and that liberal outlets routinely fail to challenge profoundly illiberal policies. Call it tribalism, call it excessive deference to power, call it the capture of the press by the establishment--just don't try to explain it away by citing liberal or conservative bias. If only that were it.
But that is it--conservative or liberal bias as cordial adaptability; or, as referenced, tribal deference to the establishment.
There was no journalistic commandment that said the Democratic-Republican press could not condemn exorbitant presidential power one day and salute Tom Jefferson's single-handed territorial expansion the next, or that FDR's accommodating Fourth Estate could not support industrial cartels on Monday and worker mobilization on Tuesday. Press bias flows with the bending currents of partisan power--or, if you will, with partisan exigencies.
Some critics will call this hypocritical, while others might prefer to call it pragmatic. Both are correct.
In the matter of Obama's presidency and a favorable press there has been, however, a certain uniqueness--or, at least, a uniqueness comparable to Roosevelt's first term. Both presidents inherited such towering catastrophes from their immensely incompetent predecessors that the press, by and large--that is, excluding Obama's Sean Hannitys and Roosevelt's H.L. Menckens--tended to give them a pass, to consider the enormous damage already done, and to ponder the potential, doable damage which could be done from a recklessly aggressive piling on.
That changed in Roosevelt's second term. I expect it will change again.