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Ed Driscoll

NBC’s Chuck Todd: The Rise of Social Media? Obama Hates It

April 28th, 2013 - 2:54 pm

At least in modern times, all presidents have had fractious relations with the press. In World War I, Woodrow Wilson censored the media. In 1942, during a press conference at the height of World War II, a bitter FDR gave a Nazi iron cross to a reporter whose coverage he didn’t approve of. When the guard changed between the Johnson and Nixon administrations, LBJ warned Spiro Agnew:

Shortly after the 1968 presidential election, [Lyndon Johnson, the outgoing president] had sought to warn the Vice President-elect about the antagonistic nature of the media.

“Young man,” he told Agnew, “We have in this country two big television networks, NBC and CBS. We have two news magazines, Newsweek and Time. We have two wire services, AP and UPI. We have two pollsters, Gallup and Harris. We have two big newspapers — the Washington Post and the New York Times. They’re all so damned big they think they own the country. But young man, don’t get any ideas about fighting.”

Agnew’s boss would indeed try to fight back, via his infamous enemies list. Gerald Ford attempted to take a more conciliatory approach to those who helped topple his predecessor. He naively allowed Ron Nessen, his press secretary, to host NBC’s Saturday Night Live in April of 1976. When the news broke inside NBC that Nessen would be hosting, and thus Ford himself would be tuning in, an SNL writer exclaimed, “The President’s watching. Let’s make him cringe and squirm.”

At his first White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 1993, newly minted President Bill Clinton smeared talk radio’s Rush Limbaugh (who was also in the audience):

Clinton noted that Limbaugh had defended attorney general Janet Reno, after Rep. John Conyers attacked her over the Waco disaster. The president said, “Do you like the way Rush Limbaugh took up for Janet Reno? He only did it because she was attacked by a black guy.”

And needless to say, the media went to war with Reagan and GWB seemingly on a daily basis.

In the 1920s, when mass communication began with the first national radio networks, there were initially two: NBC and CBS. By the 1960s, there were three successor national TV networks; ABC began as a spin-off of one of NBC’s subsidiary radio networks. News and opinion were delivered in tiny, discreet blocks back then: For many Americans, a half hour of local news at 6:00 PM, a half hour of national news at 6:30 PM, an evening newspaper or two, and the weekly copies of Time and Newsweek constituted the entirety of their news intake.

But today’s social media is a unstoppable 24/7 flood of information and opinion, and it allows anyone to be a journalist or pundit. Anybody can launch a Weblog: click here, it’s free. Ditto for Twitter and Facebook.

And the president whose election in 2008 was predicated on the idea of social media, hates this notion, as Chuck Todd (no stranger to Democrat election campaigns himself) said in a remarkable statement in the otherwise Obama-friendly setting of NBC’s Meet the Press today:

CHUCK TODD: What I wonder how many people realized at the end [of Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner] when he did his, you know, there’s always this part at the end where they get serious for a minute. And it’s usually the part where presidents say, “You know, I think the press has a good job to do and I understand what they have to do.” He didn’t say that. He wasn’t very complimentary of the press. You know, we all can do better.

It did seem, I thought his pot shots joke wise and then the serious stuff about the internet, the rise of the internet media and social media and all that stuff — he hates it. Okay? He hates this part of the media. He really thinks that the sort of the buzzification — this isn’t just about Buzzfeed or Politico and all this stuff – he thinks that sort of coverage of political media has hurt political discourse. He hates it. And I think he was trying to make that clear last night.

As transcribed by Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters, who adds:

Todd was likely quite correct, but chose not to disclose why Obama hates new media. It’s because most of it isn’t in the tank for this President and can’t be controlled by him.

That’s obviously not true of folks such as Todd and his colleagues in the old media who echo the current White House resident’s talking points, mercilessly attack his opponents, and cover for his missteps.

But note the examples that Todd gave: Politico has numerous journalists who during the campaign in 2008 were on the infamous “JournoList,” which dubbed itself the “non-official campaign” for Obama’s election bid. The JournoList was created by Ezra Klein, who is now with the Washington Post. As Klein later admitted in his column there in 2010:

At the beginning, I set two rules for the membership. The first was the easy one: No one who worked for the government in any capacity could join. [Arguably rendered false with the presence of Obama advisors Jared Bernstein and Peter Orszag-- Ed] The second was the hard one: The membership would range from nonpartisan to liberal, center to left. I didn’t like that rule, but I thought it necessary: There would be no free conversation in a forum where people had clear incentives to embarrass each other. A bipartisan list would be a more formal debating society. Plus, as Liz Mair notes, there were plenty of conservative list servs, and I knew of military list servs, and health-care policy list servs, and feminist list servs. Most of these projects limited membership to facilitate a particular sort of conversation. It didn’t strike me as a big deal to follow their example.

So it can safely be assumed that anyone on the JournoList or its successor is safely in the tank for BHO. (Recall Klein and others on its successor list moving in lockstep last month to trash the reputation of Bob Woodward, Klein’s senior colleague at the Post, when his reporting destroyed the administration’s preferred meme that they had nothing to do with the current “Sequester.”) Another self-admitted member of the JournoList is Ben Smith, who is now with Buzzfeed; there’s a reason why John Nolte has singlehandedly made “BenSmithing” a verb to describe new media doing Obama’s bidding. And the Obama-worshipping MSNBC take their cues — and many of their stories — from those same social media sites, and other predecessors firmly on the left, such as the Daily Kos.

While the JournoList was busy defending Obama from attacks, it was a member of Obama’s campaign in 2007 who mashed up the viral video that launched Obama’s presidential bid via social media, by accusing Hillary Clinton of being the reincarnation of Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984.

The terrorist attack on Benghazi on September 11th 2012, and the eventual feckless “What difference does it make?” response to the Senate by Obama’s Secretary of State — the same Hillary Clinton his election campaign repeated denigrated would eventually turn the message of Obama’s earlier Orwell-inspired video in on itself. Not the least of which because the man responsible for the piece of social media that the Obama administration initially tried to pin the attack on, during their initial modified limited hangout, is still rotting in jail.

So yes, we know “the rise of the internet media and social media and all that stuff — [President Obama] hates it. Okay? He hates this part of the media.” Every day that YouTube user Nakoula Basseley Nakoula remains incarcerated is proof enough:

Obama’s loathing of social media is yet another reminder of at least two underlying questions about the president. The first is: like so many of his fellow “Progressives,” does Obama really wish he were living in the past or what? As Michal Barone wrote last year, Obama offers “Industrial Age Solutions to Information Age Challenges.”

The other question is the more important and interesting one. “Social media” is the American people (those bitter clingers). Other than the taxpayer revenues that fund the myriad vacations involving Air Force One and giant motorcades to trek across Martha’s Vineyard* and his various crony socialist fiscal sinkholes, what is it about this country — and the American people themselves — that the 44th president actually likes?

Related: Looking back at how the Blogosphere has changed in the years since (and not always for the better) “Where Were You in 2002?“, Stacy McCain asks this weekend. Right here, beginning my own experiment in social media.

Including this one in August of 2011 to meet with the CEO of Comcast, which owns Chuck Todd’s network, ironically enough.

More: Richard Fernandez picks up the topic at the Belmont Club: Why does Barry hate social media? “It’s making his life a misery,” Richard writes. Gee, that’s a shame; BHO may just be the only man elected to the White House who went in thinking that the job would be easy.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Well, one more thing to add to Obama's American enemies list.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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Is there a more craven boot-licking Obama sycophant in major media than Chuck Todd?

He even imputes a noble motive to Obama's hatred of social media. What a pathetic, vapid excuse for a man.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm pretty convinced that the media is not interested in doing it's number one job, holding the people in power accountable. They don't care about the accumulation of power, they don't care about tyranny. Todd should be blasting Obama, making the link that only a tyrant should ever hate that the people are communicating.

If I were ever president, I would host one White House Press Corps dinner and simply say, "We are enemies. You should not be playing nice with me. This will be the last WHPC dinner in my administration. We are now professional rivals."

Of course, since I would be a conservative president, I really wouldn't have need to say any of that.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey, Ed.

Do yourself a favor and actually study Woodrow Wilson and his relationship with the media. Your statement that he "sensored it" is like saying Obama "transformed America".

Just look up Edward Bernays. Good lord, Wilson created the federal office that would eventually become our current OMB. Back then it was the Office of Information. Sound Orwellian 40 years too soon? That's because it was.

Wilson is a great example, because he and Obama have so much in common - and not JUST because they're both Progressive Socialist presidents.

Wilson also hired several "media men". He then used their influence and connections to apply political pressure on other media outlets to curtail their criticism of the administration and its policies.

I'll stop doing your job for you, but you could write a very LONG article on the similarities.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Er, 20 years too soon. Sorry for my bad math!
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course he hates it; he can't control it, and it refuses to kowtow to him like Todd and his fellow media fools.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hi Marc,

Sorry this one didn't really work for you. But I did take your advice and tightened up the last paragraph, and hopefully reduced some of its run-on style. (Or in this case, the lack thereof.)
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
:)
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
I found this article to be very hard to read. Perhaps it was the style. It seemed too casual, in the modern style. Perhaps it was the run-on style or the punctuation. It seemed quite a muddle to me. Normally, I find Driscoll good reading. Seems like it was written by someone else entirely.

For example, he listed two questions, colon and all, but they weren't exactly listed (with insets and semi-colons). The foundations for the questions also came first, in run-on style, with the questions at the end.

Look at the penultimate paragraph. Massive run-on with multiple asides. Here's the end of it:

"what is it about this country — and the American people themselves — that the 44th president actually likes?"

I had to read it a few times to get what he intended. When I see this as written, I read, "What's there to like?" I'll re-write to make my point:

"What is it about this country and its people that our 44th President actually likes?"

See? What's with the hyphens... and the aside, rather than a possessive? When did we start using hyphens for an aside, rather than parens? (I see this a lot, these days.) The whole article was clumsy like this. My composition teacher would have given me an 'F' for this.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your comment about dashes brought a smile to my face and prompted a consultation with the Jesuit-authored writing handbook I was schooled with in the 50’s, where I found this admonition: “Use dashes sparingly. Their too-frequent use results in restless and childish writing.” (Rule D76) Score one for your team!

But there was also Rule D69: “Dashes may be used for emphasis instead of commas to set off a parenthetical expression, and they are preferred if the construction of the parenthetical expression does not fit the rest of the sentence or itself contains punctuation.” Score one for mine!

(As a lover of dashes, I find that one of the smaller irritants about modern word-processing programs is their failure to distinguish clearly between hyphens and dashes, so graphically unmistakable in the days of typewriters--one keystroke for a hyphen, two for a dash—but far less obvious now.)

51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, one more thing to add to Obama's American enemies list.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
That list is long.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Three years ago I saw signs on two popular CBS shows that social media users were malignant narcissists. See http://clarespark.com/2010/05/20/criminal-minds-and-the-pathology-of-rural-america/. And it is no long just rural America that is under the gun.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
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