Where’s Sam Donaldson when we need him?
A combination of new media (such as Facebook and Twitter) and the decline of old media (the Washington Post just laid off dozens of staff and is contemplating selling its headquarters) gives a savvy Obama White House the opportunity to promote its message through much friendlier press than preceding administrations.
Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen recently wrote in the Politico that the Obama Administration has “cleverly and ruthlessly” exploited the rapid evolution of the media to gain the upper hand on a press corps that has historically held a healthy skepticism with even the most beloved of presidents.
Vandehei and Allen point out:
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.
Former Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry told Politico: “The White House gets away with stuff I would never have dreamed of doing.”
On one favored new media venue, a Google+ Hangout, Obama claims he’s been very forthcoming, saying, “This is the most transparent administration in history.” But Ann Compton, who has covered presidents since Gerald Ford in the mid-70s, begs to differ: “This White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away.”
Project 21 member Derryck Green sees this media manipulation as yet another soured relationship between Obama and a core constituency. Like black Americans who supported the President so loyally to receive so little in return, a once cheerleading media is now finding it much harder to do their job and hold their tongues. So Derryck suggests they cut the complaining and get back to work:
This past week, the D.C. business-of-government newspaper Politico described how the Obama Administration is circumventing traditional media outlets to create its own narrative – effectively freezing out traditional mainstream media outlets.
Politico reported that members of the mainstream media are upset that the White House is ignoring them and exploiting the losing combination of their old ways and dwindling resources and they aren’t the least bit happy about it at all.
According to the report, the Obama White House prefers to create its own content, disseminating it themselves through social networking and media that is either lacking in experience and old-school skepticism or wants to be a cheerleader.
We all should take issue with this practice because the President is actively creating a narrative – the narrative, in fact – of himself and his leadership in the way he wants the public to see it. This insulates him from being accountable and responsible for what his policies have wrought for the country.
It appears that the mainstream media has become the new black – not the fashion statement, but a group that offered unwavering and unwarranted support for a guy who now feels extremely confident in abusing and manipulating that support as he sees fit.
In other words, Obama is doing to the media exactly what he’s done to black Americans since throughout his campaigns and his presidency. With no pretense, he’s taken for granted a group that has the ability to hold him accountable but has – to this point – apparently decided against it.
Until and unless the media holds him accountable, Obama will continue to manipulate them (at best) or disregard them (at worst).
One sure way to regain the attention and accountability of the White House (and regain the credibility of both the black community and integrity of the media) is for all of them to publicly and demonstrably withdraw their loyalty and support. For the media, that means actually recovering the very lost art of objective journalism and reporting on the President’s culpability regarding his policies, legislation and actions.
For black supporters of Obama, they missed their opportunity in this past election cycle to send a very clear message to Obama and liberals in general about their unrewarded loyalty. Therefore, all the efforts at begging the President for a gesture – symbolic or legislative – will likely continue to go unanswered.
Politico’s report complained about the media’s lack of access to the White House. The media doesn’t need access to report the negligible effects of ObamaCare. It doesn’t need access to actively seek out what happened in Benghazi and hold those at fault accountable. It doesn’t need access to bring attention to the President’s disingenuous stance on guns and gun violence and how his attempt to create more laws on guns does nothing to penalize criminals who ignore current laws – or how handguns (and not military assault weapons) are mainly responsible for gun violence and how inner-city violence and the real causes of crime remain largely ignored.
What about sequestration? Do the media need access to report him saying he’d veto any attempt to remove it, then try to blame it on Congress? What about the increase of gas prices versus the President’s energy policy and how an increase of prices essentially functions as a tax – taking more money out of the pockets of Americans and is especially hurtful to the poor among us?
What about the debt and deficit? Do the media need access to report on this fiasco, too?
There is a very tangible reason why the nickname “lame-stream media” is accurate.
Both groups – actual blacks and the “new black” media – should start holding President Obama accountable. If not, stop complaining about the situations they helped create.
top photo credit: iStockphoto