It should come as no surprise that:
(1) Nothing was accomplished; except that…
(2) Obama took the opportunity to snub a few allies; as well as…
(3) “[P]utting on a clinic for some of the world’s greatest dictators in how to circumvent a free press” (note that’s in quotation marks; I didn’t write it, Dana Milbank of the WaPo did).
Milibank has more—a lot more:
Reporters for foreign outlets, many operating in repressive countries, got the impression that the vaunted American freedoms are not all they’re cracked up to be.
Yasmeen Alamiri from the Saudi Press Agency got this lesson in press freedom when trying to cover Obama’s opening remarks as part of a limited press “pool”: “The foreign reporters/cameramen were escorted out in under two minutes, just as the leaders were about to begin, and Obama was going to make remarks. . . . Sorry, it is what it is.”
Alamiri’s counterparts from around the world had similar experiences. Arabic-language MBC TV’s Nadia Bilbassy had this to say of Obama’s meeting with the Jordanian king: “We were there for around 30 seconds, not enough even to notice the color of tie of both presidents. I think blue for the king.”
President Obama promised to be a uniter, not a divider. And so he has—united Republicans, Independents, and even some Democrats in fierce opposition to him. And now he’s working on unifying the world—at least, the world press:
Lalit K. Jha of the Press Trust of India, at Obama’s meeting with the Pakistani prime minister, reported, “In less than a minute, the pool was asked to leave.” The Yomiuri Shimbun correspondent found that she was “ushered out about 30 seconds” after arriving for Obama’s meeting with the Malaysian prime minister. Emel Bayrak of Turkey’s TRT-Turk went to Obama’s meeting with the president of Armenia but “we had to leave the room again after less than 40 seconds.”
“When you only see the president for 15 or 20 seconds without him asking if you have any questions, it’s very frustrating,” said Laura Haim of France’s Canal+, which persuaded the White House to include foreign outlets in the press pool. “It’s very important for this president, who wants to restore the image of the United States, to have more access.”
Obama’s official schedule for Tuesday would have pleased China’s Central Committee. Excerpts: “The President will attend the Heads of Delegation working lunch. This lunch is closed press . . . The President will meet with Prime Minster Erdogan of Turkey. This meeting is closed press. . . . The President will attend Plenary Session II of the Nuclear Security Summit. This session is closed press.”
And here’s a nice tie-in to my post of earlier today:
Reporters, even those on the White House beat for two decades, said it was the most restrictive set of meetings they had ever seen in Washington. They complained to both the administration and White House Correspondents’ Association, which will discuss the matter Thursday with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
I’m sure Gibbs will be every bit as responsive and courteous as usual in his reply to them. The sad thing is that most of them are still so heavily in the tank for Obama that it probably won’t matter.
And what of Milbank? His piece is certainly not the usual fawning Obama lovefest. Milbank also wrote this recent article praising Rahm Emanuel as the only person in the Obama White House trying to keep the president from being a complete failure. So it’s clear that Milbank has not drunk all the Kool Aid.
Milbank covered the 2000 US Presidential election and the 2004 US Presidential election. He also covered US President George W. Bush’s first term in office. After Bush won the 2000 election, Karl Rove asked the Washington Post not to assign Milbank to cover White House news. In 2001, a pool report penned by Milbank which covered a Bush visit to the US Capitol generated controversy within conservative circles. According to Milbank, the nickname given to him by the president is “not printable in a family publication.
But Milbank also ran afoul of the Obamaphiles quite some time ago, back in July of 2008:
Milbank was criticized for a July 30, 2008 article in which, in part by using snippets of quotations, he portrayed Barack Obama as being presumptuous. A few days later MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann stated that Milbank would not be allowed back onto his show, which Milbank had appeared on since 2004, until Milbank submitted “a correction or an explanation.” However, Milbank had apparently already left Olbermann’s show for another show on CNN. Milbank stated that he has been dissatisfied since he was criticized by Olbermann’s staff over making a positive comment about Charlie Black, a McCain senior advisor, and as a result had already been negotiating with CNN.
Apparently there was something about Obama’s manner that rubbed Milbank the wrong way right from the start. And now a great many other people in the press are agreeing. In this piece, Milbank gets to tell them “I told you so.”
But “presumptuous,” although correct, doesn’t begin to cover it as a descriptor for Obama. Arrogant and condescending, yes. But this is a man who no longer tries to hide it any more. This is the power trip of an egomaniac who knows the press has rendered itself toothless and impotent in his wake, and who assumes that its members will never strike back no matter how he treats them—or, if one or two do, he intends to hit them back twice as hard.
Lots of presidents haven’t liked the press. But usually that’s been because the press has been hostile to them. Obama reverses this—he’s hostile because the press has been so obsequious to him, and because he’s secretive, and because he has contempt for them and thinks he can quite literally get away with anything. That’s what happens when the press abdicates its responsibility to tell the truth in as objective a manner as possible. A power-mad thug gets elected, and if he acts thuggish to them, they can hardly complain.