According to the left tilting website Politico, President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House by taking old tricks for shaping coverage and putting them on steroids.
“This new balance of power between the White House and the press has tipped unmistakably toward the government” which is an arguably dangerous development, one that Obama “has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly.” One which “future presidents will undoubtedly copy and expand.”
Mike McCurry, press secretary to Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal said that “The White House gets away with stuff I would never have dreamed of doing. When I talk to White House reporters now, they say it’s really tough to do business with people who don’t see the need to be cooperative.”
The president has shut down interviews with many of the White House reporters who know the most and (use to) ask the toughest questions. Instead, he spends way more time talking directly to voters via friendly shows and media personalities. Why bother with The New York Times beat reporter when Obama can go on “The View”? At the same time, Obama has curtailed impromptu moments where reporters can ask tough questions after a staged event — or snap a picture of the president that was not shot by government-paid photographers.
Obama himself sees little upside to wide-ranging interviews with the beat reporters for the big newspapers — hence, the stiffing of even The New York Times since 2010. The president’s staff often finds Washington reporters whiny, needy and too enamored with trivial matters or their own self-importance.
Obama boasted Thursday during a Google+ Hangout from the White House: “This is the most transparent administration in history.” The people who cover him day to day see it very differently. “The way the president’s availability to the press has shrunk in the last two years is a disgrace,” said ABC News White House reporter Ann Compton. “The president’s day-to-day policy development — on immigration, on guns — is almost totally opaque to the reporters trying to do a responsible job of covering it. There are no readouts from big meetings he has with people from the outside, and many of them aren’t even on his schedule. This is different from every president I covered. This White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away.”
“This administration loves to boast about how transparent they are, but they’re transparent about things they want to be transparent about,” said Mark Knoller, the veteran CBS News reporter. “He gives interviews not for our benefit, but to achieve his objective.”
Brooks Kraft, a contributing photographer to TIME complained that the White House regularly releases day-in-the-life images of Obama from events that “could have been covered by the press pool.
White House reporter Peter Baker said that Obama’s aides are better at using technology and exploiting the president’s “brand.” They use “every technique anyone has ever thought of, and some no one ever had. They can be very responsive and very helpful at pulling back the curtain at times while keeping you at bay at others. And they’re not at all shy about making clear when they don’t like your stories, which is quite often.”
The White House is the master of scrutiny avoidance. Obama has not granted an interview to print reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, POLITICO and others in years. These are the reporters who are often most likely to ask tough, unpredictable questions, [or at least use to be the reporters we relied on to ask the tough questions].
To my way of thinking, the press gave up any right to complain when they climbed in bed with Obama in 2008, and pulled the cover over their eyes. What do they expect?
They might as well suck it in – put on their big boy panties – their “messiah” doesn’t need them anymore!