President Obama’s approach to the press: love ‘em and leave ‘em. Except he never did much loving, and now that the newlywed phase has petered out, the press is questioning its own infatuation with the Oval Office dweller. That’s typified by Obama’s joke at a White House correspondence dinner last year that “most of you covered me” and “all of you voted for me.”
The press corps was not amused. And the antagonism has only grown over time, as explained in an expansive Politico story on the Obama administration’s ill treatment of the media.
It has all the trappings of a dysfunctional marriage. The press wants to communicate with Obama via direct questions, but he’s aloof. The press wants behind-the-scenes access, but Obama is too busy feeding exclusives and scoops to his mistress, The Gray Lady, and he doesn’t even try to hide the affair.
He gives the quiet treatment to The Wall Street Journal and scolds Fox News — and in so doing telegraphs a message to other journalists: criticize me, and we’ll freeze you out. Or worse.
If Obama is guilty of press beating, then White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is the enabler. He makes the president look like a paragon of humility in comparison. He excels at covering for the big guy’s indiscretions. And he’s aggressive about it, too.
The White House might not comply with reporters’ information requests, but it’s punctual in lambasting any negative press, as Politico reports:
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.
Obama’s handling of the media is in line with the arrogant bravado that characterizes the rest of his presidency. Even though most journalists are in his back pocket, as evidenced by their bootlicking coverage during the campaign, Obama can’t abide even a smidgen of criticism. His White House staff has absorbed the same mentality.
Read the entire Politico piece. It’s worth your time.