Saturday, April 3, 2010

Alinsky-taming of the media nearly complete

By Donald Sensing

Last october I posted, "Attack on Fox News right out of Alinsky Playbook," in which I deconstructed the White house's attack on FoxNews Channel as being directed less at FNC than the rest of the media. It was a warning shot:

The more a White House reporters and editors toe the White House line, the greater access they will be granted, especially to power figures such as Rahm Emmanuel, David Axelrod and, ultimately, Barack Obama himself, whom we may expect to give a one-on-one interview with the biggest suckup reporter gaining Dunn's favor. Reporters who don't fall into place will discover they are being frozen out of access and will have to rely exclusively on press briefer Robert Gibbs, which is the kiss of death to a White House reporter.
As they say, "I hate to say I told you so -- but I told you so." Consider:
What I have learned after discussions over the last several days with several journalists who either have regular access to the White House or are part of the White House press corps is that there is a growing sense that access is traded for positive stories -- or perhaps worse, an agreement that things learned will not be reported in the near term.

The White House is working hard to secure deals that yield fluffy, feel good commentary about the Obama White House. One American White House reporter used colorful terms to describe the arrangement. The reporter said, "They want [crudity snipped] first [in the press sense]. Then you have to be on good behavior for a bit or be willing to deal, and then you get access."
And why are reporters so willing - nay, eager - to genuflect before the almighty god of Access? Well, dead reader, 'tis simple to answer, and Wonkette does: "Washington Press Corps Just One Big Book-Publishing Scam."
There are, in 2010, only two types of political books that get published. ... The second is to get a fake but fancy-sounding job like “White House Correspondent” and use it to write fluffy or superficial odes to the Administration, in exchange for hot backroom gossip that can be leveraged into a book deal. The latter happens to be what every senior political reporter or White House correspondent is doing right now.
The Ka-Ching! factor outweighs most everything else in the reporters' minds, it seems. Salon's Glenn Greenwald points out the obvious:
That's an understatement. Those oozing conflicts lead to things like this -- a glowing New Yorker profile of Rahm Emanuel so sycophantic it made the skin crawl -- followed up by an even more one-sided love letter to Larry Summers, both from the eager, wanna-be White House stenographer/author Ryan Lizza. It's what causes Newsweek's Jonathan Alter to proclaim one day (when Obama favored it) that real health care reform "depends on whether Obama gets approval for a 'public option'," only to turn around less than two months later (once Obama said it was unnecessary) and proclaim that the Left is foolishly obsessing on the un-important public option. Eagerness to serve the White House: it's also what leads the desperate-for-book-access Alter to publicly insist that criticisms of Commander-in-Chief Obama help The Terrorists. And it's what leads Chuck Todd on a daily basis, in the form of "covering the White House" for NBC, to serve as an amplifying vessel and justifier for whatever the White House happens to be saying at any given moment, from Todd's arguments against investigations of Bush officials to his disparaging of the public option.

The conflicts in having "journalists" report on the administration while simultaneously begging top White House officials for highly lucrative book-access are as self-evident as they are corrupting.
So tell me again exactly why the customer base for these media outlets is dropping like a rock? I just can't figure it out.

Best headline (via Mudville Gazette): the White House's media policy is an "Access of Evil."