Thursday, October 8, 2009

Falling down on the job

A hat tip to Magister Christianus at Bedlam or Parnassus for the link to this Time article:
There was never a single moment when White House staff decided the major media outlets were falling down on the job. [Emphasis added--E.M.] There were instead several such moments.

For press secretary Robert Gibbs, the realization came in early September, when the New York Times ran a front-page story about the bubbling parental outrage over President Obama's plan to address schoolchildren — even though the benign contents of the speech were not yet public. "You had to be like, 'Wait a minute,'" says Gibbs. "This thing has become a three-ring circus." [...]

All the criticism, both fair and misleading, took a toll, regularly knocking the White House off message. So a new White House strategy has emerged: rather than just giving reporters ammunition to "fact-check" Obama's many critics, the White House decided it would become a player, issuing biting attacks on those pundits, politicians and outlets that make what the White House believes to be misleading or simply false claims, like the assertion that health-care reform would establish new "sex clinics" in schools. Obama, fresh from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard, cheered on the effort, telling his aides he wanted to "call 'em out."

The take-no-prisoners turn has come as a surprise to some in the press, considering the largely favorable coverage that candidate Obama received last fall and given the President's vows to lower the rhetorical temperature in Washington and not pay attention to cable hyperbole. Instead, the White House blog now issues regular denunciations of the Administration's critics, including a recent post that announced "Fox lies" and suggested that the cable network was unpatriotic for criticizing Obama's 2016 Olympics effort.
Right, because "unpatriotic" is defined as "any criticism of the president, even when he's wasting taxpayer dollars on a failed bid to pay back some of his Chicago real-estate buddies."

Seriously, you have to read the whole thing to believe it--but one thing becomes clear: the Obama Administration would appear to be the thinnest-skinned Presidential Administration most of us ever have seen or ever will see.

A clue as to why is embedded in that phrase from the article which I've put in bold print--"falling down on the job." What is the media's job, anyway? To fawn all over a particular president such that he's not held accountable for any faults, failings, discrepancies, missteps or mistakes? Given that the media tended to do this job when Barack Obama was Candidate Obama, the president might be forgiven for thinking that he would receive the same sort of treatment as President Obama--but even though it has taken many journalists far too long to wake up from their groupie-stupor (and Keith Olbermann may never recover), the fact is that journalists have a tendency to stop taking as Gospel truth everything told them by a presidential administration, especially when their enthusiastic parroting of press releases starts making them look silly and naive. The fact that they like this president, go to church about as often as he does, agree with him about the sanctity of abortion and the sacrosanct right to Sex Without Consequences, and share his simple belief in the power of better living through bigger government has not, in the end, kept them from becoming a little skeptical, a little critical of the endless sunshine bulletins issued by Gibbs and Co., a little inclined to report on controversies not because they relish the idea of tearing down the administration, but because they are, after all, journalists.

And the Obama administration is reacting the way a naive or overly-romantic woman might, when, after the honeymoon is over, she realizes that the creature whom she has married is, in fact, a man; he might have been a romantic one, a charmingly attentive one, a fine specimen of one, but his nature as a man means certain things, like socks on the bedroom floor, perhaps, or toothpaste squeezed out at random from the defenseless tube, or a tendency to reply to carefully crafted sentences with a single guttural grunt.

The press, cries the Obama Administration on the phone with its mother, is acting like the press! Alas, this is where the analogy breaks down, because if there were a real mother here she would remind them that the press always acts like the press, given half a chance, and would calm them down considerably. Instead, we have statements of pugilistic intent about "calling 'em out" and the rather idiotic spectacle of one of the most press-coddled administrations in the history of this nation suddenly trying to play the victim.

Those of us out here in flyover country aren't impressed. We've had the media's unvarying contempt for decades now, and find the whining from the Obama administration about the sudden lack of open, unapologetic cheerleading from the press to be a bit much.

1 comment:

LarryD said...

Now that Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the media really ought to go back to parrot mode.

The Nobel committee has lost all credibility now, giving the award to two of the worst (if not THE worst) presidents in US history.