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2010/01/30

ANNALS OF COMMUNICATIONS about the Obama Administration’s relationship with the media.

The Aulettster

See below for an abstract of the article above and a handful noteworthy quotes for those not fully committed to active citizenship or rousing good  20min read, because let’s face reading is for nerds. Ugly, unattractive nerds like Ken Auletta who has been writing for the New Yorker since 1992. For you losers, suckers, and old people who actually enjoy reading ask and you shall recieve my NYer digital password to read this important article in full.

ABSTRACT: ANNALS OF COMMUNICATIONS about the Obama Administration’s relationship with the media. In September, Pres. Obama spoke at a memorial service for Walter Cronkite, in New York. In his speech, Obama said that Cronkite’s standard was “a little bit harder to find today.” During the 2008 election, Obama was the object of near-veneration, but now that the President has rolled out his ambitious initiatives, he bristles at the way he’s treated in the media. This is hardly new. This time, though, the battle between the President and the press is different. There is a third party involved—the Internet—and this technological transformation of the media has influenced how the press goes about its work. Mentions Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and cable TV. Describes how the Obama campaign handled the press during the 2008 election. Mentions Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. In the White House, Obama has tried in various ways to get reporters to pull their punches. The Administration will let journalists in when it has a positive story to sell. The White House pays particular attention to the Times. Obama has hosted lunches and dinners for TV anchors and columnists, and he’s also held off-the-record sessions with liberal columnists and even historians. By and large, though, the Administration’s press office has been distinguished less by its transparency than by its discipline. Leaks are few and usually deliberate. Like other American workers, journalists these days are working harder with less support, and there are fewer reporters at the White House. Mentions Chuck Todd. Today, a vicious news cycle swallows most White House strategies. Obama’s communications staff has swelled to sixty-nine people, from fifty-two under Bush and forty-seven under Clinton. The shop is led by Robert Gibbs, the press secretary; Dan Pfeiffer, the communications director; and Jon Favreau, the chief speechwriter. In the traditional role of the press secretary, Gibbs has been strangely recessive. One of the most controversial aspects of Obama’s communications strategy is his sheer visibility. He is a constant of pop culture. Mentions Politico and Mike Allen. Politico has become a forum where the White House can directly rebut its adversaries. Mentions the Administration’s Office of New Media. The President’s weekly Saturday radio address is now simultaneously available on the Internet, and the White House regularly posts alerts for its 1.7 million Twitter followers. What the press seems to pay attention to, however, is cable and blog attacks on the Administration. By the summer, Obama’s long welcome from the press was over. Mentions the debate over health-care reform. Obama’s efforts to reason with the press have at times given way to outright combat, for example the White House has resorted to deliberately snubbing Fox News. Mentions Major Garrett. Most reporters believe Obama’s criticism of the press has little impact
Noteworthy tidbits (says me)

  • As the media outlets multiply and it becomes easier to disseminate information on the Web and on cable, the news cycles is getting shorter–to the point that there is no pause only the constancy of the Web and the needless argument of cable. This creates pressure to entertain or perish, which has fed the press’s dominant bias: not pro-liberal or pro-conservative but pro-conflict.
  • A president doesn’t have the unchallenged voice he once had. The transformation of the media has not only undermined the imperial institution of the mainstream media; it has undermined the imperial presidency.
  • Once a story gains traction… the Administration mist respond quickly of rumors become facts.
  • “Groundless accusations are not new to news or American politics… but this President has been forced to deal with more downright falsehoods than any President than I can think of.” –ABC’s Jack Tracker
  • So much of cable is now partisan.
  • “I do think part of what’s different today is that 24hr news cycle and cable TV and blogs and al this, they focus on the most extreme elements on both sides. They can’t get enough of conflict. It is catnip to the news media right now.” –Obama on Meet the Press
  • “We are, collectively, much like 8 year olds chasing a soccer ball. Instead of finding ways of creating fresh, original, high-impact journalism, we’re way too eager to chase the same story everyone else is already chasing, which is often the easy story and too often the simplistic story–and too often the story misses what’s going on.” –NYT’s Peter Baker
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