Thursday, January 22, 2009

The press catches President Obama by surprise 

A reporter asks President Obama a substantive question, which apparently takes some gall.

POLITICO: Obama Flashes Irritation in Press Room Visit: “President Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press corps Thursday night, but got agitated when he was faced with a substantive question.”

Well, you can see why that would catch him by surprise . . . .

Apropos of nothing, on Tuesday afternoon I stopped in the book store in Washington's Union Station and picked up the Newsweek campaign book, A Long Time Coming. At times the book is a semi-conscious confession of the mainstream media's complicity in his election. From the prologue (emphasis added):
On the night before the election, en route from Akron, Ohio, home to Chicago, Obama wandered back into the press section of his campaign plane, thanking reporters -- especially those who had been with him from the beginning. "It will be fun to see how the story ends," said Obama, as he headed to the front of the plane. Yes, Mr. President-elect, it will.

Then there is this bit, from page 6:
Another politician with a superb sense of timing, Bill Clinton, perfectly understood why Obama saw a golden, possibly once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity. The former president believed that the mainstream press, whose liberal guilt Clinton understood and had exploited from time to time, would act as Obama's personal chauffeur on the long journey ahead. "If somebody pulled up a Rolls-Royce to me and said, 'Get in,'" Clinton liked to say, with admiration and maybe a little envy, "I'd get in it, too."

The book's author, Evan Thomas, does not seem to think that any of this reflects poorly on the press. Quite the contrary.

We appreciate the candor.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 22, 10:55:00 PM:

hmmm ... well, I think Obama'll get the red licked off his candy soon enough. There's only so much hope and change and fawning by the press to keep the excitement going ... sooner or later, folks are going to get impatient for results.

He can do what he wants. He's got the bully pulpit, he's got a near super-majority. But God help him when the body bags start coming back from the Afghan theatre, or if there's an attack on American interests, and most certainly here.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Thu Jan 22, 11:16:00 PM:

"thanking reporters -- especially those who had been with him from the beginning"

Come on, TH. Thomas meant those reporters who had been assigned to cover him from the beginning of the campaign.

I thought you were fed up with these kind of cheap shots. They won't win elections for the Republicans in the near future.

We all know most news people are Democrats. How do you propose FIXING the problem?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 22, 11:17:00 PM:

"We appreciate the candor."

Even if it makes us vomit.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Jan 22, 11:40:00 PM:

DEC, that is probably what he meant, but there are a million ways to have written that without the double entendre. It is hilarious that neither Thomas or his editors realized he was conveying a double meaning when he wrote that sentence. Hence my suggestion that it was "semi-conscious".  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Jan 22, 11:40:00 PM:

As for fixing the problem, DEC, I think it has been fixing itself.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Fri Jan 23, 12:03:00 AM:

This comment has been removed by the author.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Fri Jan 23, 01:40:00 AM:

"it has been fixing itself."

Cop-out. I don't expect an instant answer. But, in the future, I would like to read your views on how to bring about change in the news media.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Fri Jan 23, 02:22:00 AM:

"how to bring about change in the news media."

A wave of bankruptcies would be a bracing tonic.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 23, 06:03:00 AM:

Every story I read from the MSM about their troubles goes like this:

The real problem is ad revenue.

The real problem is craigslist.

The real problem is blogs.

Then the readers write in and say, "You've biassed the news and made your difference, but at least 47% of your potential market is now lost. Maybe more, since there are Obama voters who were dismayed by your slant."

And the breast-beaters say, "Bias? What bias? Like I said. It's the ads. It's the bloggers. It's the...."

DEC - WRT bringing about change in the news media. In a sense, I am the change I've been waiting for. They can snuff it. They have snuffed it. Other than waving my invisible hand, I can see nothing I could do, and nothing I could care about doing. I wouldn't save them if I could, and I can't. I cancelled magazines except for Guns and Ammo and the boaman's quarterly review (small caps theirs). I have no television. I won't let a large metro newspaper in the door. Perhaps some of them will melt and re-form as small-town papers wringing their hands over cat skeletons in trees.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Jan 23, 07:39:00 AM:

I believe this: When an organization, even an entire industry, is dominated by a certain ideology it tends to stay that way both because the ideologues promote their own, people of different ideologies find it painful to stick around, and it may turn out that the industry in question simply attracts certain kinds of people.

What would it take to turn the legal profession conservative?

What would it take to turn the Marine Corps liberal?

Big changes, that's what.

And it looks like dead tree media's 'big changes' are just going to be going out of business. Then Pajamas Media can step into the vacuum and dominate the minds of America!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 23, 09:34:00 AM:

Well, there's always carpet bombing, but I don't have access to heavy tactical aircraft.

But as other, wiser commenters here have said, the problem may be solving itself.
Think of it as evolution in action.


By Blogger Georg Felis, at Fri Jan 23, 09:52:00 AM:

The immediate problem is if any media run critical stories about (fill in left wing Designated Victim Group Here), the knee-jerk legions of the Perpetually Outraged come boiling out of their holes and scream their offended rage at anybody nearby. Therefore the Media tend to drift to either stories that do not offend anyone, or stories that point the finger of blame at Designated Oppressor Groups (that’s us, by the way), because nobody likes to receive that kind of frothing rage on a daily basis.

Bush has never really bought into the Designated Victim Group meme, and brings the moonbats out whenever he talks. Obama “appeared” to buy in during the whole campaign, and it is funny as heck to watch the Left react when he makes Bush-like decisions that do not conform to their pre-conceived notions. “Close Gitmo in a year? Why not now? Hillary as SecState? How long are we staying in Iraq? Bail out the Big 3 oilburners? Nuclear power plants?”

Thats one of the reasons I don't think PJ Media is going to be able to make too dramatic of changes. They're going to get the same Stimulus as existing media, which will tend to lead to the same Response over time. BJ Skinner rules.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 23, 09:53:00 AM:

My Dad worked for a TV station for many years. His favorite observation on how well TV (or radio) did is that there are only three things that are important, all else is useless fluff; Picture Quality, Audio Quality, and most important, Content.

Without these three being of very high quality, you won't have viewers and you won't have advertisers. Additionally, if the content is high quality but stale, you will lose audience.

The same really applies to newspapers. One of the reasons I dropped the paper was that they stopped putting it in the paper box, regardless of how many times I called. The paper always ended up at the end of the driveway and would be soaking wet by the time I got it. Plus, the daily barrage of left-wing pap made the content quality go down.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Fri Jan 23, 10:26:00 AM:

Ditto on the vomit.

I expect the honeymoon to be short and the press to turn when they realize what they have spawned. Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned. They weren't too fond of Clinton or Carter in the end, were they?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 23, 10:50:00 AM:

Odd thing about the Politico. After publishing agitprop and pure propaganda for the duration of the election, now, for the second day in a row, they have published a piece with very slight doses of criticism of Obama. Here, they say the close Guanatanamo executive order probably won't result in a closed Gitmo, reversing the preferred Obama story line. Hmmm, what's gotten into them!

Remorse at abandoning their profession, you think? Could it happen elsewhere?  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Jan 23, 10:53:00 AM:

Now that they've succeeded in lowering expectations, they'll make token efforts and be rewarded for it.

There's no criticism here, just reporting of facts in a way that doesn't overtly serve Obama's interests. Yet people are pleased. How sad.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Fri Jan 23, 12:01:00 PM:

One problem is that Democrats often have better publicity skills. When I worked as a newspaperman, Democrats called me almost every day with story ideas.
Republicans never did. I had to call them.

Reagan's team was an exception. Michael Deaver, ad exec Hal Riney (who created Reagan's "Morning in America" and "Bear in the Woods" TV commercials), and several others on the Reagan team were world-class experts in all areas of PR and advertising.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Fri Jan 23, 01:14:00 PM:

@DF82 "What would it take to turn the Marine Corps liberal?"

1) Overturning Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and 2) new, snappy uniforms designed by J.Crew (see other TH post)! [I am not sure that you'd have as effective a fighting force, but at least the food would be better]

@Viking "I expect the honeymoon to be short and the press to turn..." I believed this on election day, and kind of continue to believe it, but now I am not as sure. For example, Rick Sanchez at CNN has adopted the MSNBC Matthews/Olby school of balanced reporting on the POTUS, which is notable drift even for CNN (going from at least trying to appear neutral once in a while to being openly partisan). Possibly, it would take a series of obvious and massive screw-ups by the Obama administration before the press becomes critical in any meaningful way. My basic premise is that editorial page writers really think that they should be in charge (of the nation, that is, but without the inconvenience of standing for election) and will become petulant when things are not done to their liking -- perhaps criticizing President Obama from the left, ironically perhaps resulting in cancelled subscriptions from President Obama's core supporters, people who are focused on the man and not the particular policies.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Fri Jan 23, 03:30:00 PM:

My point is that the expectations of the liberal press mavens are all too high for a candidate who came out of the Daley machine.

I don't see a lot of liberals around the country who look at the Chicago Way as the model for the type of country they would expect Obama to build.

Obama will be wiley and practical and will govern from the center. He is going to be darn near impossible to beat four years from now. But I don't expect the press honeymoon to last. He is used to the Chicago Way and that means that pay to play, within legal limits and maybe sometimes outside, is here on a national level.

Most of the people in his cabinet are not saints. Expect a slip up or two along the way.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 23, 11:19:00 PM:

@ Viking Kaj:
Aha, the "I know where you are from, therefore I know you" argument. A personal (underhanded) fave.

On an unrelated note, you wouldn't happen to be one of those midwesterners, would you? Obviously not, that would mean you were dirty and stupid. /snark  

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