Out: Transparency. In: Punishing your enemies!
[White House communications director Dan] Pfeiffer was asked by Time reporter Michael Scherer, “So will WFAA’s Brad Watson get another interview one day?”
Instead of quickly taking the high road, Pfeiffer suggested that Watson may truly be out in the cold after irritating the president. And he did it by revealing yet another trick of Washington communications: playing one news outlet against its rival.
“Right around the time we do our next interview with @TIME. I am kidding … or am I. @Newsweek is on the other line,” Pfeiffer responded.
Har de har. From a comms point of view, it can make sense to slag one outlet or journalist against another, but not in such a ham-handed way as this. That art requires some subtlety. But I don’t think the Obama White House is going for subtlety here, they’re going for message, telling all reporters to let The One sandbag them, and otherwise to watch what they ask. Reporters are noticing thanks to Drudge; as this sort of behavior wears thin, and it will quickly, the WH may find that its snarling has only bought it more aggressive questioning.
Stop laughing. I’m not talking about the WH lap dog press corps, but reporters in flyover country still looking to make a name for themselves. I bet most readers here hadn’t heard of Brad Watson until today…