Bill Clinton understandably believes his fellow Democrats with bylines “are de facto allies,” as the Washington Post put it in 2006. So when a Democrat starts crying media bias, you know he’s in big trouble. Al Gore at least waited until after the 2002 midterms to blame the media for his party’s woes at the ballot box. Ditto Frank Rich, then still with the New York Times, in December of 2010. Yesterday, the growing disconnect between former President Obama’s mouth and brain caused him to get a couple of months ahead of the curve in that department, while fundraising in upstate New York in between golf games and late-night bull sessions with actors and musicians:
President Obama on Friday said social media and the nightly news are partly to blame for the sense that “the world is falling apart.”
“I can see why a lot of folks are troubled,” Obama told a group of donors gathered at a Democratic National Committee barbecue in Purchase, N.Y.
But the president said that current foreign policy crises across the world are not comparable to the challenges the U.S. faced during the Cold War.
Acknowledging “the barbarity” of Islamist militants and Russia “reasserting the notion that might means right,” Obama, though, dismissed the notion that he was facing unprecedented challenges.
“The world’s always been messy … we’re just noticing now in part because of social media,” he said, according to a White House pool report.
As my colleague Rick Moran quips, “Hear that, you twitterers? You’ve already ruined our president’s vacation. Now you want to go and scare people half to death by reporting on events around the world? Shame on you!”
This isn’t the first time the man who wafted into the Oval Office in 2008 based on a tissue-paper thin resume and massive amounts of help from social media — and big media as well — has lashed out at social media. Obama’s words yesterday confirm an initially surprising admission from Chuck Todd (no stranger to propping up Democrat election campaigns himself) on NBC’s Meet the Press in April of last year, the day after the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner:
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 the late Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters added back then:
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.
Exactly. As we saw in 2008, it was relatively easy to control the MSM via Ezra Klein’s JournoList, the self-described “non-official campaign” to elect Mr. Obama, which threatened anyone who refused to toe the party line with smears of racism and crude locker room-style threats of violence. It didn’t take much arm-twisting to convince CNN to build “The Wright-Free Zone” and airbrush one of Obama’s biggest influences and his racist rhetoric out of the news cycle. (Ditto the New York Times.) It was easy to get Tom Brokaw and Charlie Rose to lie in late October of 2008 that they didn’t know much about Obama’s far left worldview.
Outside of America’s monolithic old media though, “the power of the hashtag” doesn’t go far in convincing Vladimir Putin not to experiment with the power of the armored personnel carrier and the AK-47 in Ukraine. Nor does it do much to prevent ISIS from uploading snuff films onto the Internet and trolling for new American recruits online.
John Kerry was blindsided by the Blogosphere in 2004; evidently, he thought the news media had been freeze-dried in 1972, when there were only three TV networks, and he could smear American troops fighting in Vietnam with impunity. Mr. Obama, compared to FDR by Time magazine and JFK by Kennedy’s jaded descendents, similarly wishes, like those mid-20th century leaders, that he only had a handful of national media outlets to deal with. Thankfully though, the Internet is much more diversified than the American media of the mid-20th century. There’s a downside to that, as the horrific images this summer from Iraq and Syria have demonstrated. But then, Mr. Obama should have realized that the real world is a messy, dangerous place, even more so than a college dorm room after a midnight bull session, when he ran for the White House in the first place.
Related: “Reassurance From Alfred E. Obama,” via Tom Maguire: “He’s right! The original Cold War is over, and we aren’t protesting the Vietnam war or eyeballing Russia over nukes in Cuba (or Germany)! So, per Obama, are you better off now than you were forty years ago?”
Update: Steve Green tweets:
SHOCK POLL: Republican voters view terrorists as greatest threat, Independents name Russia, Democrats say Twitter.
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) August 29, 2014