March 30, 2016

"The last person in the world who should be lecturing journalists on how to do journalism is President Barack Obama, Yet there Obama was Monday night at a journalism award ceremony, yodeling banalities about the role of a press in a free society..."

"... moaning over the dangers posed by 'he said/she said' reporting, and—to the delight of the assembled audience—attacking Donald Trump in every way but name. The press-heavy crowd, convened by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications to give the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting to Alec MacGillis, clapped at Obama’s 30-minute address, encouraging his best Trump-baiting lines about 'free media' and the dangers of 'false equivalence.'"

Yodels and moans Jack Shafer (at Politico).

Go to the link if you want to see the argument that  that Obama is an anti-free-press guy. It seems to be mostly resentment that Obama isn't generous enough opening himself and his administration to the press. He's been successful at controlling information from his end: "Obama holds infrequent news conferences, and he wastes reporters’ time by refraining from answering questions with any candor." I can see whining about how that makes journalism harder to do, but not how it makes him anti-free-press. The press is still free. Freedom doesn't mean everyone else is making it easy to do all the things you're free to do. You've got to step up, not demand cushier spoon-feeding.

46 comments:

MayBee said...

Remember when the White House tried to freeze Fox News out of some events?
And how Obama's Justice department was bugging James Rosen's phone.

Come on. Obama is kind of a dick.

MayBee said...

(Now I have Book of Mormon in my head.

"I can't believe Jesus
Called me a dick!"

wendybar said...

He is an idiot. He had the press literally eating out of his hand, for his whole presidency, and NOW he wants them to start acting like journalists??

Ann Althouse said...

"Obama is kind of a dick."

Kind of a dick is freedom too.

EDH said...

Freedom doesn't mean everyone else is making it easy to do all the things you're free to do.

I would posit freedom is always a degree on a scale, not a dichotomous variable.

Promising the "most transparent administration in history" implies a point on that scale approximating maximum public accountability and press access.

Anything less makes the promise and those assurances bullshit.

rhhardin said...

The press is not free to say Obama is an idiot. They'd lose their audience. It's a business pressure.

The scandal is what business they're in fact in.

rehajm said...

So the White House external propaganda arm is hurt over competition from the White House internal propaganda arm?

Ann Althouse said...

"He had the press literally eating out of his hand..."

It's their fault for being tamed.

Becoming dependent on the munificence of the target of your investigation is not a workable plan.

That was his plan. They deserve the pain if they didn't foresee the downside.

Let better journalists step up and take over.

That's the free marketplace of ideas.

I have no sympathy for Shafer's whining from the point of view of reporters who are too weak to do their work without cooperation from a person who is has the motive, will, and power to restrict what information gets out.

Go ahead and call him a hypocrite for saying he'd be transparent.

But I think it's great that he's lecturing the press, taunting them for being so bad. They are! And the response that he didn't make their work easier is a confession of even more badness.

Ann Althouse said...

And however bad Obama is he's not "the last person in the world" who should be championing journalism.

Doesn't seem too aware of what's happening in the world.

Birkel said...

Is there evidence that Obama prefers any of the Amendments to some alternative in his head?

Xmas said...

And there was Obama Mongolian Throat Singing over the dangers...



MayBee said...

It's true Obama is not the last person in the world who should be championing journalism.

But he is perhaps one of the least self-aware people, to be lecturing on how the press should do it's job and how candidates should interact with the press. Lecture lecture lecture. When it is not, and never has been, how he acts. It would be like me lecturing people on how they should never comment on blogs.

Hagar said...

I am not quite sure how I came up with this, but watching the clip of Obama last night, I somehow concluded that if I disregarded the difference in styles, Trump and Obama actually are quite alike.

Birkel said...

As Instapundit says, paraphrasing: elect a Republican if you want a vigorous press.

MayBee said...

Hagar-
Yes! I see it!

The need to always see himself as correct, the lack of need to explain his actual position, the need to see everyone else as acting in bad faith and stupidly, the over reliance on his own personal skills. One just has a loud bluster, and one has an intellectual-seeming blather.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Let better journalists step up and take over.

It's too late. Stepping up now is meaningless.

The Drill SGT said...

PS: They also embargo any photo journalism and provide just the posed shots by the WH Photog...

ddh said...

The media stopped doing journalism as they began caring about whether Obama and his fellow Democrats liked them. Doing journalism would interfere with getting a spokesman job.

Barry Dauphin said...

30-minute address

Yikes..about 25 minutes too long.

harrogate said...

"Promising the 'most transparent administration in history' implies a point on that scale approximating maximum public accountability and press access."

No. It implies more transparency than previous US Administrations have shown. Which, to be fair, is a pretty damn low bar.

Michael K said...

It's buyer's remorse that things are falling apart everywhere, like living in a box in San Francisco and Baltimore riots and Emory hysteria and Syria chaos and the US telling diplomats' families to leave Turkey. How could this be happening when we elected the light bringer?" When do the oceans begin to recede ?

tim maguire said...

The press-heavy crowd...encourag[ed] his best Trump-baiting lines about 'free media' and the dangers of 'false equivalence.'"

"False equivalence" being, of course, liberal-speak for not lying about things liberals don't like.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Freedom doesn't mean everyone else is making it easy to do all the things you're free to do. You've got to step up, not demand cushier spoon-feeding.

Why the hell would they? They're on his side! Most of them view it as their job to make sure he looks good/make sure his arguments/assertions/bullshit gets air time.

The most transparent administration in history! What an utter crock. It is fun sometimes to play "imagine if it was a Republican," but it doesn't matter.

Hey, here's a link: NYTimes: Under Obama A Chill on Press Freedom

Quote: He promised unprecedented “openness in government” and a new era of transparency.

He appears to have fallen far short of the promise. This administration has prosecuted more whistle-blowers for leaks and gone after more journalists than any of its predecessors.

In a report last year, Leonard Downie Jr., the former executive editor of The Washington Post, said the administration’s efforts to crack down on information seeping to journalists were “the most aggressive” since President Richard Nixon was in office.


But they love him, so it does not matter. They'll clap like trained seals even as his admin. cracks down on their colleagues. Even when he wrongs them, he can do no wrong.

Michael said...

They are out of practice since a Dem has held the office. Their skills will be suddenly sharpened should a Repub win. More of the same with a Hillary presidency. Maybe some hemline or color coordination criticism. Style section will expand.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

I can see whining about how that makes journalism harder to do, but not how it makes him anti-free-press. The press is still free.

Apropos "free," there is the Freedom of Information Act. Obama's administration routinely violates this.

In my couple of years' as a scribbler for the local paper, my assessment is that few government workers understand what the Law requires, ALL routinely fail to timely comply, and FEW ever eventually comply.

Illustrates the problem of TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT. When power is given power to Government, and Government fails to comply with the Law, who ya gonna complain to?

Yeah. File suit against the Government, IF they let you, and IF you can afford the time, trouble, and money.

Some would say the better course is to not let Government have that power to begin with.

Amanda said...

At least Obama didn't "open up those libel laws".

khesanh0802 said...

Ann @ 7:58 Took the words right out of my mouth. Poor GD journalists actually having to do some research to write a story. Oh no!!

exhelodrvr1 said...

He's so clean and articulate!! Let's vote for him!!

wendybar said...

The so called press, were Obamas biggest cheerleaders, and still are. Since he is their Messiah, he could do no wrong, and so they had to ruin anybody who tried to speak out against him. Pure Propaganda for the last 7 1/2 years....and they didn't care. THEY ruined their own chances of having the American people believe anything they report!

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said..Let better journalists step up and take over.

Which better journalists? The journalism schools are filled with Lefties. They're ideologically inclined to support the Left. If they stepped out of line their friends in the profession would shame them and tell them they're hurting the cause/doing Rupert Murdoch's work/helping the Right. If you're critical of the Dems you're a racist (and a sexist and a homophobe)!

Is Sharyl Attkisson a "better journalist?" How's her career going?

Eh, doesn't matter. It's true that journalists are lazy and whiny and want special treatment for themselves. It's also true that they're not much interested in investigating (nor "speaking truth to powerful) the Left.

bbkingfish said...

"The last person in he world...?"

Hyperbole much?

cubanbob said...

Ann Althouse said...
"He had the press literally eating out of his hand..."

It's their fault for being tamed.

Becoming dependent on the munificence of the target of your investigation is not a workable plan.

That was his plan. They deserve the pain if they didn't foresee the downside.

Let better journalists step up and take over.

That's the free marketplace of ideas.

I have no sympathy for Shafer's whining from the point of view of reporters who are too weak to do their work without cooperation from a person who is has the motive, will, and power to restrict what information gets out.

Go ahead and call him a hypocrite for saying he'd be transparent.

But I think it's great that he's lecturing the press, taunting them for being so bad. They are! And the response that he didn't make their work easier is a confession of even more badness.

3/30/16, 7:58 AM

How delicious to see Obama lecturing the house organs.
As soon as a Republican is elected president the 'press' will actually start doing some investigative work instead of presuming any real news will be uncovered at a public relations event.

As for real news, this Administration is probably the most target rich Administration in living memory for corruption, abuse of power and sheer incompetence and yet the 'press' isn't capable of seeing it. If a couple of schmucks like Woodward and Bernstein could bring down a president solely with the help of one FBI Agent what could a couple of real journalist do with the sheer number of scandals that are glossed over by what is commonly referred to the as MSM?

Sebastian said...

"mostly resentment that Obama isn't generous enough opening himself and his administration to the press. He's been successful at controlling information from his end" Ah, he wasn't "generous" enough, was he. Opening up as president is a matter of generosity. Got it.

"He had the press literally eating out of his hand..." Not picturing the literality here. But yes, when Progs have to choose between the program and doing their jobs, they'll stick with the program. The occasional whining is just a bunch of masochist moans: they like it that way.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Hagar: ...Trump and Obama actually are quite alike.

You cracked the code. The one speaks disjointed stream of consciousness, the other articulately from a script. Both narcissistic power seekers, little respect for Law or morality, their "leadership" is to bend Government to their will. Hillary also.

A logical result when so much Power is accumulated in the Government.

damikesc said...

Ironically, almost all reporters would vote Obama again.

Michael Fitzgerald said...

"I can see whining about how that makes journalism harder to do, but not how it makes him anti-free-press. The press is still free. Freedom doesn't mean everyone else is making it easy to do all the things you're free to do. You've got to step up, not demand cushier spoon-feeding."

Ah, the cruelly neutral narrative- That record of FOIA denials and refusals? Just a guy doing his job. My, my, progressives have come a long way since their caterwauling over the Nixon administration. Hey next republican president, you're good to do whatever it takes to thwart the fifth estate, the FOIA, and the democrat party congressional investigations!

B said...

It seems to be mostly resentment that Obama isn't generous enough opening himself and his administration to the press.

Really? What about the obstruction on FOIA requests?

ddh said...

If ever the metaphor fit, the media sold their reputation for a mess of pottage when they fell in love with Barack Obama. Sad for them, they will never be able to get a refund.

Cacimbo Cacimbo said...

Under Obama, people that used to be called "whistle blowers" are prosecuted under the espionage act. By 2013 six government employees had already been subjects of felony criminal prosecutions. Previously there had only been three - ever. The administration has implemented an "Insider Threat Program" in all government departments to urge federal employees to monitor their colleagues for possible unauthorized information disclosures. Administration employees suspected of leaking classified information are given lie-detector tests and subject to reviews of their telephone and e-mail records. The administration also subpoenaed the phone records of over 20 journalists. They went so far as to label one FOX reporter a "co-conspirator" to subpoena his emails along with his phone records.

That sounds like abuse of government power to try and quell the press to me.

Jonathan Graehl said...

Cacimbo^2 wins this one, Prof. Althouse.

DanTheMan said...

>> When do the oceans begin to recede ?

They began receding on June 3rd, 2008. You're not a receding-oceans denier, are you?

mikee said...

Cacimbo - Yet Hillary still walks free in public.

Michael K said...

"You're not a receding-oceans denier, are you?"

I confess. My bullshit detector went to "stun" about January 2009.

SGT Ted said...

It was just another Captain Bullshit moment, chiding the press, who gives Obama a pass on all his lawless and dictatorial behavior, for not going after Republicans hard enough.

DanTheMan said...

>>I confess. My bullshit detector went to "stun" about January 2009.


What a racist thing to say. In the future, everything will be racist for 15 minutes.

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Obama is kind of a dick."

Kind of a dick is freedom too.


Nobody said it wasn't. It's just interesting to see haw far the bar has been lowered and then watch the reaction of the press who actively sought to lower it.

Obama's latest lecture, in the WaPo on nuclear disarmament, is something right out of a 1960s college freshman debating class. There is no depth to this man.