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History Rhymes at the San Francisco Chronicle

As Bryan Preston writes at the PJ Tatler, they told me if I voted for John McCain, "we would soon see the government quash new media reporting to control the message…and they were right!"

Bryan links to a post from the blog of Phil Bronstein, the San Francisco Chronicle's editor at large , who seems genuinely shocked to discover that the "Obama Administration punishes reporter for using multimedia":

White House officials have banished one of the best political reporters in the country from the approved pool of journalists covering presidential visits to the Bay Area for using now-standard multimedia tools to gather the news.

The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci – who, like many contemporary reporters, has a phone with video capabilities on her at all times – pulled out a small video camera last week and shot some protesters interrupting an Obama fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel. …

Other sources confirmed that Carla was vanquished, including Chronicle editor Ward Bushee, who said he was “informed that Carla was removed as a pool reporter.” Which shouldn’t be a secret in any case because it’s a fact that affects the newsgathering of our largest regional paper (and sfgate)and how local citizens get their information.

What’s worse: more than a few journalists familiar with this story are aware of some implied threats from the White House of additional and wider punishment if Carla’s spanking became public. Really? That’s a heavy hand usually reserved for places other than the land of the free.

You don't say.

In a way, this is a case of history rhyming at the Chronicle. In 2007 through early 2008, Obama was in the midst of staking out his turf as being further to the left of Hillary Clinton. (After the primaries, he would later feint somewhat to the right by the fall of 2008, until his fateful meeting with a certain man in the plumbing trade.) As a result, at the start of 2008, the hard-core anti-war, LGBT, environmental activists swooned over Obama. You know the "professional left," as Robert Gibbs cynically dubbed them last year, in perhaps the only memorable soundbite in his career? That was them. This was also the period in which young Ezra Klein, in-between setting up the JournoList and then being hired by the Washington Post (what could go wrong?), memorably said:

Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

The leader of candidate Obama's self-described "non-official campaign" in the media was heating up his base's collective temperature during the cold winter of 2008. But that was also the period that Obama felt free to tell the San Fransisco Chronicle that he'd cheerfully bankrupt coal companies, and not-coincidentally, "energy costs would necessarily skyrocket":

Yeah, that's what the majority of Americans who aren't ideologically on the far left and particularly those who live in more climatically volatile regions than the San Francisco Bay Area and who live from paycheck to paycheck want to hear from a presidential candidate.

As I've written before, a savvier newspaper -- one that wanted to sell some papers, as opposed to being either (a) asleep at the wheel, (b) wanting to promote a favored candidate above all else or (c) both -- would have had someone say immediately at the conclusion of the interview, "Well, thank you for your time, Senator," shaken his hand and walked him to the front door.

They would have then immediately put the president's quote on the front page in type so big it would make the New York Post blush, and then sent out links to Matt Drudge and every wire service about the awesome quote they just tripped over.