As sequestration D-Day approaches courtesy of President Barack Obama, nicknamed “President Armageddon” by the Wall Street Journal, to be followed in a month by the debt-ceiling deadline, it’s important to understand just how completely the nation’s establishment press has not only abandoned its obligations in ways our Founders never anticipated, but has also chosen to become a team of de facto presidential advisers.
The first clue I detected as to what’s really happening was Jim VandeHei’s and Mike Allen’s horrific exercise in deceptive self-pity (“Obama, the puppet master”) at Politico on February 18. I was hoping it was an aberration. I should have known better.
The pair consumed over 1,800 words crying a river of phony crocodile tears because, in their view, President Barack Obama, the White House, and its permanent campaign now housed at Organizing For Action (OFA) have become so awesome and overwhelming in their message discipline, information management, and direct social media motivational efforts that it’s now absolutely impossible for any group of human beings to appropriately scrutinize their actions, let alone today’s supposedly resource-lacking, hollowed-out legacy media. Therefore, from all appearances, they’re not even going to try to do their jobs. One wonders why VandeHei and Allen don’t just stay in bed every day. Oh, I forgot. They need to continue collecting their stenographers’ paychecks.
On Sunday, confirming that the Politico pair was not alone in choosing to conveniently go into give-up mode, Bill Plante at CBS News accused the administration of “undercutting the First Amendment … it’s state-run media.” Plante’s statement sounded promising, until he revealed his fallacious line of reasoning. Just like VandeHei and Allen, he claims to be perturbed that the White House is able to “put out their own material” without the Washington press corps. It’s literally as if Plante believes there is no freedom of the press if the legacy media can’t filter any and all information coming out of our nation’s capital. So, because he can’t, it would appear that he’s also packing it in.
Let’s be clear. If Obama and members of his administration wish to go around the press and communicate directly to the American people, they’re free to do just that. In fact, if they believe their message is being inappropriately distorted by the self-appointed gatekeepers, they have a duty to go around them, as long as they stay within legal and ethical limits — which, unfortunately, they are definitely not doing.
The press response to all of this should be to redouble their “speak truth to power” efforts, with or without its supposedly precious access. Instead, they’re using the administration’s alleged Web 2.0 mastery and management of access privileges as all too convenient excuses to abandon their posts.
That the Politico column appeared at about the same time the White House Correspondents Association was whining that its members didn’t have access to Obama’s weekend golf outing with Tiger Woods was especially rich. Of all the things over which to get outraged, being shut out of a presidential golf game would, or at least should, be way down the list. But apparently, it’s the only thing on it.
Among the many more important items: What about Benghazi? If it weren’t for Republicans demanding information and justifiably holding up the nominations of Chuck Hagel and John Brennan, we wouldn’t know that Obama “was not involved at all, during the seven-plus-hour attack that resulted in the deaths of four American government employees,” including U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.