When I saw the title of this Politico story—”Why reporters are down on President Obama”—I thought it would be about the press’s disillusionment with Obama’s policies as president.
Not at all; silly me. It’s about the press’s disillusionment with Obama’s policies towards—the press.
Now, I’m not saying that’s completely unimportant. Actually, it matters, both as policy and as a reflection of the character of the current administration, its leader, and his aides. Obama treats the press with arrogant contempt—and you can’t say they haven’t earned it by their fawning shilling for him in the past. For someone like Obama, that sort of adulation breeds an increase in condescension; he knows he can abuse them with impunity. And so he does, when he thinks it suits his purposes.
Obama’s last lingering need to cooperate with the press or to treat them with any sort of respect ended when he was elected and ascended to the powerful post of POTUS. Now, the more they try to please him, the more he realizes he has nothing to fear from them, and the more they realize they have something to fear from him.
During Obama’s recent, brief trip to Prague, a message went out to one of the top reporters to assemble the handful of traveling reporters for a dinner with Gibbs and other top members of the president’s entourage. The journalists dutifully complied, picked out a restaurant, made a reservation and showed up at the appointed time.
When Gibbs and the others were late, it wasn’t too surprising. But soon several hours passed with no sign of the White House contingent. The food came and went.
Eventually, the press gave up and headed out on some late-night sightseeing. As they strolled the Charles Bridge, they ran into Gibbs, who was doing the same. Asked about the dinner appointment, Gibbs said the White House group had simply decided to grab some pizza…
The difficulty in tracking down Gibbs isn’t limited to the road. Even reporters for major newspapers say they have trouble getting their calls and e-mails returned.
Obama knows how to play the spineless reporters like so many tuneless violins:
And just what happens when you upset the White House?
Among White House reporters, tales abound of an offhand criticism or passing claim low in an unremarkable story setting off an avalanche of hostile e-mail and voice-mail messages.
“It’s not unusual to have shouting matches or the e-mail equivalent of that. It’s very, very aggressive behavior, taking issue with a thing you’ve written, an individual word, all sorts of things,” said one White House reporter…
One of the most irritating practices of the Obama White House is when aides ignore inquiries or explicitly refuse to cooperate with an unwelcome story — only to come out with both guns blazing when it takes a skeptical view of their motives or success.
“You will give them ample opportunity on a story. They will then say, ‘We don’t have anything for you on this.’ Then, when you write an analytical graph that could be interpreted as implying a political motive by the White House, or something that makes them look like anything but geniuses, you will get a flurry of off-the-record, angry e-mails after you publish,” one national reporter said. “That does no good. If you want to complain. Engage!”…
Some reporters say the pushback is so aggressive that it undermines the credibility of Obama’s aides. “The willingness to argue that credible information is untrue is at its core dishonest and unfortunately calls into question everything else the press office says,” one White House reporter said.
So they are finally getting the fact that there’s a lot of lying going on with this administration—but only because they’re been lied to. And of course it’s not the Great Man himself, it’s his nefarious aides (“if only Stalin knew!”).
According to the article, even the administration’s favorite reporters have been frozen out when they don’t toe the line. It reminds me of what Easton Jordan of CNN revealed about his cable news network’s cooperation with Saddam Hussein, done in order to gain protection and access from the regime:
For CNN, the highest prize is “access,” to score live camera feeds from a story’s epicenter. Dictatorships understand this hunger, and also that it provides blackmail opportunities. In exchange for CNN bureaus, dictatorships require adherence to their own rules of reportage. They create conditions where CNN–and other U.S. media–can do little more than toe the regime’s line.
Obama is not Saddam, of course. But the modus operandi of his thuggish relationship with the American press is the same, and the MSM’s craven behavior has also so far been very similar to that of CNN back in the bad old Saddam days.
In the case of reporters and Obama, however, the MSM’s motivation initially sprang from reverence and even love for the candidate, rather than fear of a dictator like Saddam. Now that the press’s love for the president may be fading because they realize it’s unrequited, they remained trapped by his bullying—plus their own stunned amazement that the object of their affection is treating them with such rudeness and disdain. And after all they’ve done for him!
They still do not quite seem to understand who and what they’re dealing with. Their surprise seems unfeigned to me, which is a surprise in and of itself. It appears that they didn’t just cover up all the evidence—available during the campaign to anyone willing to look—that their man was a thinskinned, rude, arrogant, bully. They actually denied it, repressing their knowledge of and/or excusing such behavior, so strong was their need to believe in Obama.
And insight dawns slowly, very slowly, if at all. The press remains shell shocked. Love is a funny thing, and hope dies hard when one is blinded by it.
[NOTE: The Anchoress adds some thoughts of her own.]