Thursday, March 31, 2016

In The (Septic) Tank

So while Donald Trump's campaign manager is being charged with battery for physically grabbing a member of the press and searching for blame as to how Trump rose to GOP frontrunner status amid billions in nonstop free press coverage and call-in interviews, it turns out that what the Village really can't stand is that Barack Obama guy daring to call them out on the mess. Politico's Jack Shafer:

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.” 
What they should have done is bombard Obama with rotten fruit or ripped him with raspberries for his hypocrisy.

How do we hate Obama’s treatment of the press? Let me count the ways. Under his administration, the U.S. government has set a new record for withholding Freedom of Information Act requests, according to a recent Associated Press investigation. FOIA gives the public and press an irreplaceable view into the workings of the executive branch. Without timely release of government documents and data, vital questions can’t be answered and stories can’t be written. 
Obama’s “Insider Threat Program” has turned employees across the government—from the Peace Corps to the Social Security Administration to the Department of Agriculture—into information-squelching snitches. If this isn’t Trumpian behavior, I don’t know what is. 
“Obama hates the press,” New York Times national security reporter James Risen said not long ago, “and he hates leaks.” AP Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee has decried the “day-to-day intimidation of sources” by the Obama administration, judging it worse than the Bush administration on that score. And in a 2013 piece, POLITICO’s Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen documented Obama’s mastery of “limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.” 
As ProPublica has reported, at the same time the Obama administration has been paying lip service to protecting whistleblowers, it has pursued national security leaks to the press with a vehemence unmatched by any previous administration, using the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers who leak to journalists more times than all previous administrations combined. Obama holds infrequent news conferences, and he wastes reporters’ time by refraining from answering questions with any candor. He claims to helm “the most transparent administration in history,” while bending government policies and practices toward secrecy
“The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration,” wrote Leonard Downie Jr. in a Committee to Protect Journalists report. And it’s not just Downie complaining. You could break Google by asking it to list all the top journalists who regard the Obama administration as Press Enemy No. 1. 
The deeper you study Obama’s relationship with the press, the more you want to ask what business he has giving out a press award. Was Trump himself busy that night?

What really bothers the Village about all this "secrecy" and "manipulation" is the Obama administration realizing pretty early on that this whole internet thing is pretty useful for getting out the information the White House wants to get out, and doing so without the Village pearl-clutchers getting in the way.

Particularly since the massive damage caused to American national security by Edward Snowden and friends, you'd be forgiven for thinking the White House might want to be more careful with leaks and information in general, which it is.

What the Obama administration is not doing is physically battering journalists, insulting them by name on Twitter, citing them to rally angry campaign crowds, and making public enemies lists of them like Trump (for starters).

Considering how complicit the media is with Trump and his other enablers, it's a wonder Shafer doesn't fall over from the weight of his own hypocrisy.

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