From watchdogs to lapdogs

President prefers playing keep-away with fawning media

  • Follow Editorials

It took a golf outing with Tiger Woods to get them riled up, but the national media are finally speaking out about the Obama White House’s cynical no-access media strategy.

Of course, they picked the absolute wrong time and wrong reason to pipe up. Few of us are going to shed any tears for the Washington press corps because the White House denied them access to the president’s round of golf with Tiger. It comes off as so much whining – and most Americans, if given the chance, would probably vote to leave the president the heck alone once in a while.

But it does provide an opportunity to look at how this White House – which promised to be the most transparent in history – has kept the pesky news media at bay, pretty much for four years.

The strategy is transparent even if the administration is not: Stay away from working journalists and the intrusive, hard-hitting questions they might ask. Go on The View to be fawned over, or the late-night talk shows to yuck it up. Grant a few interviews to safe local television reporters, most of whom will be overwhelmed and intimidated. Hold precious few press conferences.

This isn’t the view of one editorial page. It’s the considered opinion and personal experience of a range of journalists.

Regarding presidential sit-downs, The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi recently wrote:

Entertainment Tonight scored one last year. The New York Times did not.

The View has gotten several. The Washington Post hasn’t had one in years.

“Albuquerque radio station KOB-FM’s ‘Morning Mayhem’ crew interviewed him in August. The last time the Wall Street Journal did so was in 2009. ...

“Obama may be the least newspaper-friendly president in a generation.”

Nor is it just newspapers
complaining. The website ran a double-byline article this week headlined “Obama, the puppet master.” In it, authors Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen write that “President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House. ...

“With more technology (available to the White House), 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 super-safe, softball interview is an Obama specialty.”

It may seem paradoxical – that the president most adored by the media would keep them at arm’s length. But perhaps the adoration is, in part, only heightened by his playing hard to get: He selects the most sycophantic media for the rare papal visit, and the interviewers are only too giddy with exclusive giddiness to complain. Meanwhile, the press gallery is furiously fantasizing about which lucky guy or girl might catch the bouquet next.

“The way the president’s availability to the press has shrunk in the last two years is a disgrace,” ABC News White House reporter Ann Compton told Politico. Compton, who’s covered presidents closely since Ford, added: “This is different from every president I covered. This White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away.”

Note to the adoring media: You’re being played like a fiddle.

Besides the obvious dangers of such a cocoon encircling a U.S. president, it’s also a very unflattering statement about how ordinary Americans rank: It shows that the president is more concerned with serving his own interests than ours.

Comments (5) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1 02/21/13 - 05:49 am
New America

It's like there's a new media of the Entertainment Tonight ilk that Obama only responds to. Maybe he realizes his low information voters are likely to be found in those places and not traditional news venues. It's the changing face of America and its news outlets. It's a form of censorship, also, by not communicating with real news organizations. Only THE PARTY news agencies will speak for government.

carcraft 02/21/13 - 07:11 am
Obama probably doesn't want

Obama probably doesn't want to get asked about his flipping and flopping. The latest being sequestration. Obama made a tough speach about how we can not short cut this process etc it will make both sides compromise. During the debate with Romney, Romney pointed out the problems of sequestration and Obama's approach to it. Obama said it would not happen. Well now the Republicans are desperate for some form of spending cut ans are going to let it go through. Gee Mr. President were you lying then or now? Sort of like his"evolving" message on gay marriage. I was for it before I was against it before I was for it!

soapy_725 02/21/13 - 08:51 am
The top two career paths for minorities together.......

What a display. Pop Star Obama, an Afro-American and Pro Athlete Tiger Woods, an Afro-Korean.

If there happened to be a convicted felon on the course, we would have had a representative from all three career paths.

ultrarnr 02/21/13 - 09:19 am
New Poll

A Bloomberg National poll released Wednesday found that 55 percent of Americans approve of Obama's performance, his highest rating in the poll since September 2009. The poll also found that 49 percent of respondents believe that the president's proposals to increase government spending in key areas are more likely to spur job creation than GOP-backed efforts to cut both spending and taxes.

Additionally, the Bloomberg poll found Republican popularity at a record low. Just 35 percent of respondents said they have a favorable view of the GOP, marking the lowest ratings for the party since the poll began three years ago. The Republican rating also marked a six point drop over the last six months.

The poll surveyed 1,003 adults between February 15 and February 18, with a three percent margin of error.

rmwhitley 02/21/13 - 10:30 am

all of the free phones for drug dealers, prostitutes and gang bangers, maybe massa obama feels more compelled to speak to them than the lefty media.

Darby 02/21/13 - 04:45 pm
The press only spoke up.....

because it was their ox that was getting gored.

They still love Obama. Don't look for signs that this means they are going to suddenly start doing their jobs.

That will never happen unless journalism schools stop teaching with a liberal bias, or (even less likely) those schools begin to attract conservative students.

Students who will come out of those institutions armed with the skills and the mission to report the news and inform the public, rather than a subliminal imperative to shape and twist information to their own perspective prior to passing it on as the great majority of "journalists" do today.

Don't hold your breath...

Young Fred
Young Fred 02/21/13 - 11:34 pm
Too bad

I find it interesting that the usual Obama apologist aren't on here trying to twist and squirm this around to justify their puppet master.

One thing is for certain, this President has a perfect understanding of his typical supporters/followers. Too bad they don't have the same understanding of themselves.

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
Augusta VA supervisor sentenced to prison
In what the judge called a "tragic case," a former Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center supervisor was sentenced Thursday to 27 months in federal prison for making false statements in medical files.