Instead of doing the work they were supposed to be doing last night — i.e., following their publication’s mission statement, which is (or maybe was) to “turn … reporters (i.e., themselves) loose on the subject we love: national politics” — Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen spent over 1,800 words whining.
Their disingenuous complaint: The Obama administration supposedly has insurmountable technological and resource edges over the establishment press attempting to cover it. Because of those advantages, VandeHei and Allen claim, in essence (my words, except for the internal quote), “It’s not our fault that President Obama is ‘a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.’ So if you dumb skeptics and conservatives think the problem is media bias, you’re wrong. We’re powerless against the puppet master.” The first four paragraphs of the pair’s insufferable dreck, which I believe is all that readers will be able to tolerate, follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Obama, the puppet master
President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.
Not for the reason that conservatives suspect: namely, that a liberal press willingly and eagerly allows itself to get manipulated. Instead, the mastery mostly flows from a White House that has taken old tricks for shaping coverage (staged leaks, friendly interviews) and put them on steroids using new ones (social media, content creation, precision targeting). And it’s an equal opportunity strategy: Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access.
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.”
The irony of bringing McCurry into the conversation is rich indeed.
One could go on for months on how McCurry used his job to mislead and even lie to the American people on a nearly daily basis to ensure that his boss stayed in office. Here’s just one example from February of 1998:
February 23, 1998|By JOHN M. BRODER The New York Times
Mccurry Decries ‘Blatant Lies’
WASHINGTON — The White House on Sunday forcefully denied it had engaged private investigators to examine political opponents of the president or members of the staff of Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel in the Monica Lewinsky case.
Mike McCurry, the White House spokesman, said that printed and broadcast accusations that the White House or President Clinton’s lawyers had hired private investigators to scrutinize the president’s critics were “blatant lies.”
The “blatant lie” (or, conceivably but hardly likely, an ignorant one) was in what McCurry claimed, as former Clinton adviser Dick Morris related in sworn grand jury testimony in 1998:
In an eerie parallel to Watergate, a former adviser has testified that the Clinton White House assembled a team of private eyes to investigate ‘enemies’ of the president.
It will get him in far more trouble than the sex ever would. The “it” in question: Political espionage and the use of gumshoes to investigate Bill Clinton’s enemies — from bimbos to Kenneth Starr’s prosecutors and critical lawmakers. …
Former Clinton campaign adviser Dick Morris says yes. In testimony before the Monica Lewinsky grand jury in August, Morris was questioned about sleuths Terry Lenzner, the head of Investigative Group International, or IGI, and San Francisco-based gumshoe Jack Palladino. …
The fact is that the media environment heavily favored the Clintons in 1998, and that today’s environment should — repeat, should — be more difficult for Obama.
In 1998, Clinton had the establishment press predominantly on his side. His opposition came from talk radio, conservative pundits, conservative forums like FreeRepublic, and indirectly from media critics like the Media Research Center and Accuracy In Media. The investigative tools available, though they seemed impressive at the time, were relatively primitive and still in development.
In 2013, Obama doesn’t just have the establishment press on his side; he has them in his pocket. The real puppets in this story aren’t the recipients of Team Obama’s flood of emails and social media efforts. No, they’re people like VandeHei and Allen who feel it’s more productive to whine than it to get off their butts and do something about it. But, in my view, they don’t really want to do anything about it, so whining about the great and powerful Obama provides them the needed excuse for their negligence.
The press’s willingness to become Obama and Democratic Party lapdogs has grown in nearly direct proportion to the growth of Fox News, center-right blogs and forums, and the Tea Party movement. The tools the establishment press could be using to investigate goings-on in the Obama administration are far more powerful, and their ability to break news instantly has increased.
Even absent the tools, nobody is forcing the lapdog press to tell us that the economy is acceptable and getting better when it isn’t. Nobody forced the press to turn PolitiFact into a de facto propaganda arm of the administration and the left and then franchise the fraud to multiple outlets around the country. Nobody is forcing the press to concentrate on trivialities like Marco Rubio’s water bottle at the expense of investigating Benghazi.
No, they’re doing this to themselves, for the most part gladly and willingly.
Memo to VandeHei and Allen: Can the whine, guys. And for heaven’s sake, get to work.