Forget about the Second Amendment. Forget about the First too. Bob Woodward tells Wolf Blitzer about a love letter he got from the White House.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: You’re used to this kind of stuff, but share with our viewers what’s going on between you and the White House.
BOB WOODWARD: Well, they’re not happy at all and some people kind of, you know, said, look, ‘we don’t see eye to eye on this.’ They never really said, though, afterwards, they’ve said that this is factually wrong, and they — and it was said to me in an e-mail by a top –
BLITZER: What was said?
WOODWARD: It was said very clearly, you will regret doing this.
BLITZER: Who sent that e-mail to you?
WOODWARD: Well, I’m not going to say.
BLITZER: Was it a senior person at the White House?
WOODWARD: A very senior person. And just as a matter — I mean, it makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, ‘you’re going to regret doing something that you believe in, and even though we don’t look at it that way, you do look at it that way.’ I think if Barack Obama knew that was part of the communication’s strategy, let’s hope it’s not a strategy, that it’s a tactic that somebody’s employed, and said, ‘Look, we don’t go around trying to say to reporters, if you, in an honest way, present something we don’t like, that, you know, you’re going to regret this.’ It’s Mickey Mouse. (The Situation Room, February 27, 2013)
Yes. You’ll be sorreeee….
Juan Williams oddly found the same thing happening to him too. “One of the big things I’ve learned is …”
“I always thought it was the Archie Bunkers of the world, the right-wingers of world, who were more resistant and more closed-minded about hearing the other side,” he said. “In fact, what I have learned is, in a very painful way — and I can open this shirt and show you the scars and the knife wounds — is that it is big media institutions who are identifiably more liberal to left-leaning who will shut you down, stab you and kill you, fire you, if they perceive that you are not telling the story in the way that they want it told.”
It ain’t the way he thought it was.
Well, Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen at Politico spell it out. “President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.” The media companies are in the poorhouse and with Obama able to use social media like the rest of us, the President has the press eating out of his hand.
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. And future presidents from both parties will undoubtedly copy and expand on this approach.
“The balance of power used to be much more in favor of the mainstream press,” said Mike McCurry, who was press secretary to President Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Nowadays, he said, “The White House gets away with stuff I would never have dreamed of doing. When I talk to White House reporters now, they say it’s really tough to do business with people who don’t see the need to be cooperative.”
Because they lied to you. Now think back. Did you ever suspect, having the slightest soupcon of an idea, the most vague of impressions that they might not have been leveling with you?
Mark Steyn summarized the situation thus. “Essentially, Obama has achieved the same relationship with the press and the media and public information that the Soviet Communist Party had to jam radio transmissions and smash printing presses to achieve. Essentially these guys are volunteering to do for him what they had to be coerced into doing most self-respecting countries, and I think that’s the real issue here.” Some of them are now having regrets. But it may be too little and too late.
It’s like all those other words. “Affordable”. “Free”. “Fair”. “Balanced”. “Transparent”. Not very apt, are they. The opposite even. It’s not what’s on the label. It’s what’s in the box. ‘Arbys McFry,’ pal.