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President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.
Not for the reason that conservatives suspect: namely, that a liberal press willingly and eagerly allows itself to get manipulated. Instead, the mastery mostly flows from a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting). And it’s an equal opportunity strategy: Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access.
With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly. And future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach.
The president has shut down interviews with many of the White House reporters who know the most and ask the toughest questions. Instead, he spends way more time talking directly to voters via friendly shows and media personalities. Why bother with The New York Times beat reporter when Obama can go on “The View”?
At the same time, this White House has greatly curtailed impromptu moments where reporters can ask tough questions after a staged event — or snap a picture of the president that was not shot by government-paid photographers.
The frustrated Obama press corps neared rebellion this past holiday weekend when reporters and photographers were not even allowed onto the Floridian National GolfClub, where Obama was golfing. That breached the tradition of the pool “holding” in the clubhouse and often covering — and even questioning — the president on the first and last holes.
Obama boasted Thursday during a Google+ Hangout from the White House: “This is the most transparent administration in history.” The people who cover him day to day see it very differently.
“The way the president’s availability to the press has shrunk in the last two years is a disgrace,” said ABC News White House reporter Ann Compton, who has covered every president back to Gerald R. Ford. “The president’s day-to-day policy development — on immigration, on guns — is almost totally opaque to the reporters trying to do a responsible job of covering it. There are no readouts from big meetings he has with people from the outside, and many of them aren’t even on his schedule. This is different from every president I covered. This White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away.”
One authentically new technique pioneered by the Obama White House is extensive government creation of content (photos of the president, videos of White House officials, blog posts written by Obama aides), which can then be instantly released to the masses through social media. They often include footage unavailable to the press.
“This administration loves to boast about how transparent they are, but they’re transparent about things they want to be transparent about,” said Mark Knoller, the veteran CBS News reporter. “He gives interviews not for our benefit, but to achieve his objective.” Knoller last talked to Obama in 2010 — and that was when Knoller was in then-press secretary Robert Gibbs’s office, and the president walked in.
There’s the classic weekend document dump to avoid negative coverage
There is the iron-fisted control of access to White House information and officials.
They are also masters of scrutiny avoidance. The president has not granted an interview to print reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, POLITICO and others in years. These are the reporters who are often most likely to ask tough, unpredictable questions.
White House officials deny it is intentional, this administration —like its predecessors — does some good old-fashioned bullying of reporters: making clear there will be no interviews, or even questions at press conferences, if aides are displeased with their coverage.
Still, the most unique twist by this White House has been the government’s generating and distributing of content.
A number of these techniques were on vivid display two weekends ago, when the White House released a six-month-old photo of the president shooting skeet, buttressing his claim in a New Republic interview that he fires at clay pigeons “all the time” at Camp David.
Obama and his team, especially newly promoted senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer, often bemoan the media’s endless chase of superficial and distracting storylines. So how did the president’s inner circle handle the silly dust-up about whether the president really did shoot skeet?
Pfeiffer and White House press secretary Jay Carney tweeted a link to the photo, with Pfeiffer writing that it was “[f]or all the skeeters” (doubters, or “skeet birthers”). Longtime adviser David Plouffe then taunted critics on Twitter: “Attn skeet birthers. Make our day - let the photoshop conspiracies begin!” Plouffe soon followed up with: “Day made. The skeet birthers are out in full force in response to POTUS pic. Makes for most excellent, delusional reading.”
What we obviously have here is a case of Battered Media Syndrome. The media obediently adore, ferociously protect, and do everything Barack tells them to do. But right now the media are feeling a little taken for granted -- battered, if you will -- but rather than stand up for themselves, the boys at Politico have composed a love letter to Obama, that says in so many words: You only treat us bad because you’re so amazing!
As we all know, the media are far from helpless; Politico is far from helpless; VandeAllen is far from helpless. Apparently, though, something brought on a wave of shame, and as a response to all this self-revulsion, VendeAllen's decided to craft a public excuse for the media that claims the institution is a victim, not an accomplice.
Through the power of a coordinated Narrative, time and again, we've seen the media get what they want, when they want. What we never see, though, is this Narrative turned against Obama. But I can't begin to count how many times this Narrative has been used to protect Obama.
Whether it's the Libya cover-up, the state of the economy, the BP oil spill, or whatever battle he might be in with the GOP at the time, the media are brutally effective at muscling up Narratives that punish Obama's critics, and magically turn bad economic news into good
Millions are suffering in Obama's failed economy, but the media are talking instead about the divisive social issues Obama wants to talk about (gun control, immigration).
Four Americans died in Libya; the unanswered questions are legion. But it's those who demand answers that feel the power of the media, not those who refuse to answer.
The media have plenty of power to get what it wants from Obama. But what the media want is to protect their lover; even a lover who treats them like the prostitutes they are.
Someday the very same "journalists" selling this country out will no longer be in a position to write the first draft of history. We just have to hope Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and the rest live long enough to read an objective history written about their appalling behavior in the Age of Obama.
If the media are feeling dirty and used now, just wait
Originally posted by beezzer
I'm curious as to what happens in 2016. The media has shown itself to be willing participants.
Are they now a useful tool for the progressive movement?
What can we do to make our voices louder?
Obama and his team “would benefit, as they begin the second term, by acknowledging that many of the biggest problems facing the administration flow directly from the man at the top. Mr. Obama is a lousy manager,” the piece asserts. “As chief executive he gets a C — and then only if graded on a curve that takes into account his predecessor’s managerial weaknesses.”
“This is the worst-kept secret in Washington,” Scarborough contended. “Every Democratic senator has complained about how he never calls them, he never reaches out. [...] We’ve heard it for four years. We’ve heard people that have been inside the White House running the White House saying it’s been a dysfunctional place.”
Originally posted by jibeho
reply to post by burntheships
Such an enlightening perspective coming out of the depths of MSNBC. They nailed it...
Originally posted by jibeho
reply to post by burntheships
Obama is biting the hand that has fed him for nearly 5 years.