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Ed Driscoll

Battered Media Syndrome

February 19th, 2013 - 8:47 pm

As John Nolte writes at Big Journalism, Politico’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen come to grips with being, as John paraphrases, “Obama’s Lapdogs:”

What we obviously have here is a case of Battered Media Syndrome. The media obediently adore, ferociously protect, and do everything Barack tells them to do. But right now the media are feeling a little taken for granted — battered, if you will.  But rather than stand up for themselves, the boys at Politico have composed a love letter to Obama, that says in so many words: You only treat us bad because you’re so amazing!

It’s 1800 words, but the first few paragraphs say it all:

Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.

Not for the reason that conservatives suspect: namely, that a liberal press willingly and eagerly allows itself to get manipulated. Instead, the mastery mostly flows from a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting). …

The results are transformational. With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies, the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly.

The biggest lie VandeAllen tells — and it’s a major-league whopper — is assuming a pose of helplessness: It’s not our fault we suck, Conservatives. It’s just that we’re powerless before Obama’s awesomeness!

As we all know, the media are far from helpless; Politico is far from helpless; VandeAllen is far from helpless. Apparently, though, something brought on a wave of shame, and as a response to all this self-revulsion, VendeAllen has decided to craft a public excuse for the media that claims the institution is a victim, not an accomplice.

Rush Limbaugh spots the enormous gap between the Politico’s words and actions:

“You guys at Politico joined in attacking Neil Munro for having the audacity to ask Obama a question at a staged event — that that wasn’t the right time to ask that question, and you guys practically chased Neil Munro down to the Washington Monument and you gave him holy hell for what he had done,” he continued. “And some members of the White House press corps demanded that Munro lose his press credentials.”

Limbaugh cited a June 15, 2012 Politico story by Byron Tau and Donovan Slack that called Munro’s question “a surprising breach of etiquette.”  (RELATED: Obama golfs with Tiger Woods, takes no media questions)

“[A]ll he was doing was attempting to ask a question in an impromptu moment after a staged event,” Limbaugh said. “Suddenly you say that you’re denied. Munro did it and when he did it, you jumped in his chili and chased him down to the Washington Monument. … And the reason why they called it heckling is because Munro is from a conservative media outlet, The Daily Caller. All Munro was doing was what Politico people say the White House is not letting them do anymore: impromptu moments where reporters can ask tough questions after a staged event.”

At Commentary, Jonathan S. Tobin adds:

Politico is right that among those most frustrated by this are members of the White House press corps who may be liberals but are still eager to do their jobs. However, the only reason this has worked so well is the willingness of the editors and publishers who employ those frustrated reporters to roll over and play dead for the president. The unavoidable fact that Vandehei and Allen do their best to ignore is that the hamstringing of the working press’s ability to hold the president accountable dovetails nicely with the editorial stands of the vast majority of those outlets. That limits the time and space they are willing to give their staffers who might wish to push harder on an administration that is so careful about limiting access.

Just as important to the success of the White House’s puppetry is the eagerness of much of the liberal press to play ball with the president when given the opportunity to do so. As Steve Kroft of “60 Minutes” admitted, the reason why Obama loves to go on the CBS show is that he knows he won’t be “made to look stupid” or be subjected to the same “gotcha” kind of questions for which that television institution was so well known in the decades when it established its long since undeserved reputation as the gold standard of broadcast journalism. Though few other liberal hacks have been as honest about their bias as Kroft, the same rule applies to virtually every outlet that has been granted the same kind of access such as the recent Obama puff piece published in The New Republic.

Puff piece? You ain’t seen nothing yet:

Somewhere, H.L. Mencken is laughing his Panatela off over the pitiful state of the “news” media.

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