A Media Scorned
A Media Scorned… by Donna Cole
In the Academy Award winning satire of the television news media, the 1976 film “Network”, anchorman Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch, gave his now famous on air rant in which he shouted “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” The fictitious scene from the movie depicting Beale losing it during a live newscast earned Finch the Best Actor award.
Now, in what surely is one of the best examples ever of “life imitates art”, we learn that in reality the White House press corps is in fact “Mad as hell, and are not going to take it anymore!” And they are angry at their patron, the very man most of them have spent more than five years fawning and tingling over, promoting and covering up for, President Obama himself. The Associated Press on the media’s angry outburst this way;
‘Dozens of leading news organizations protested to the White House on Thursday against restrictions that sometimes keep journalists from taking pictures and video of President Barack Obama performing official duties. At the same time, two press groups urged their members to stop using official photos and video handed out by the White House, dismissing them as little more than “government propaganda.”‘
‘…the presidents of the American Society of News Editors and the Associated Press Media Editors sent a letter to their members urging them to stop using handout photos and video from the White House.’
‘”We must accept that we, the press, have been enablers,” the ASNE-APME letter states. “We urge those of you in news organizations to immediately refrain from publishing any of the photographs or videos released by the White House, just as you would refuse to run verbatim a press release from them.”‘
So much for yet another promise the president made, the promise that his administration would be the most transparent in history. It turns out to be one of the most insular in history, and they have driven the pro Obama media, who certainly must feel used and jaded to be paid back for all their support in this way, to make this vocal and public statement.
Beside the accusation of the Obama administration pushing nothing more than propaganda, and the threat to stop distributing it for the White House, the most stunning part of this report is the admission that the media themselves are to blame because they have been the “enablers.” It is stunning in that while pundits and journalists on the political right such as myself have long known and reported on this “enabling”, for these representatives of the so called main stream media who supposedly shoot news straight to admit their bias in this clear of a way.
To dig deeper into this subject, we need to look at the core of their protest, voiced in a letter that over thirty news outlets signed on to and what their complaint is. This letter was hand delivered to President Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney. The entire text of the letter was published by Politico, here is the important part of it;
Â ‘The right of journalists to gather the news is most critical when covering government officials acting in their official capacities. Previous administrations have recognized this, and have granted press access to visually cover precisely these types of events, thus creating government transparency. It is clear that the restrictions imposed by your office on photographers undercut the Presidentâ€™s stated desire to continue and broaden that tradition. To exclude the press from these functions is a major break from how previous administrations have worked with the press.’
‘Moreover, these restrictions raise constitutional concerns. As the Supreme Court has stated, the First Amendment protects â€œthe public and the press from abridgment of their rights of access to information about the operation of their government,â€ Richmond Newspapers Inc. v. Virginia, 448 U.S. 555, 584 (1980). The fact that there is no access whatsoever only heightens those concerns. As one court has noted in considering a similar restriction: â€œThe total exclusion of television representatives from White House pool coverage denies the public and the press their limited right of access, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.” Cable News Network, Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., et al. 518 F.Supp. 1238, 1245 (N.D. GA 1981).’
‘The organizations and individuals signing this letter strongly believe that imposing limits on press access, as your office has done, represents a troubling precedent with a direct and adverse impact on the publicâ€™s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing.’
‘We consider this a most serious matter and urge you to provide appropriate access for independent photojournalists to all public governmental events in which the President participates. Again, we see this letter as the first step toward restoring full press access to these events. Accordingly, we request an immediate meeting with you in order to resolve this very serious situation. We ask that you contact Steve Thomma, President of the White House Correspondentsâ€™ Association, and Sam Feist, current television pool chair, to set up the meeting.’
American Society of News Editors
American Society of Media Photographers
Associated Press Media Editors
Associated Press Photo Managers
Association of Alternative Newsmedia
Association of Opinion Journalists
Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox News Channel
Gannett Co., Inc.
Lee Enterprises, Incorporated
The McClatchy Company
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
National Press Club
National Press Photographers Association
New England First Amendment Coalition
News Media Coalition
Newspaper Association of America
The New York Times Company
Online News Association
Professional Photographers of America
Radio Television Digital News Association
Regional Reporters Association
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Society of Professional Journalists
The Washington Post
White House Correspondentsâ€™ Association
White House News Photographers Association
I included all the media outlets who signed this letter because it is important for you, the reader, to actually see that literally everyone who is anyone in the Washington D.C. political media signed on to this. They are doing something I never thought I would see them do, which is something they did as a matter of routine to the Bush administration, they are standing up to President Obama and challenging his abuse of them. This goes beyond what some might dismissively call a “strongly worded” letter meaning it has no teeth, it is a direct threat. By invoking their First Amendment rights, and citing legal cases to back it up, I will translate to plain English what the media is saying, “Mr. President, if you do not stop this and make things right, we are going to sue your administration. We don’t want to do this because it will embarrass you, but the law is on our side here. We are giving you this chance, if you don’t take it, then we will take further, legal, action.”
Of course, if President Bush would have behaved in this way the media wouldn’t have afforded him this chance. But, that is history and the most important thing to learn here is that President Obama has lost, or is losing, his key ally, the media. While this issue is dealing with photography, it is rooted in something much deeper. As an example, a week ago the Washington Post’s editorial board put together an almost mocking photo feature with text called, “What Obama didn’t know.” A year ago, this would have been unthinkable. In this piece, they cover eight different times the president used the excuse that he didn’t know something to avoid taking responsibility for it. Clearly, The Post was showing a pattern of behavior, from the health care insurance cancellations, to the failed Obamacare website, to the IRS harassing Tea Party groups, to Benghazi, to the Fast and Furious scandal, just to name a few, each time President Obama has claimed ignorance. This excuse is wearing thin.
Perhaps it was the blatant lie about people being able to keep their insurance that was the breaking point. In my opinion, the media has come to believe that in fact all of these claims of ignorance are in reality lies, because they cannot accept all this is due to incompetence, they must be falsehoods. Falsehoods the media like guppies took hook, line, and sinker. Now, the media cannot make this direct accusation of lying without hard evidence, but two plus two does equal four, and it does not take a mathematician to figure it out when seen in full context.
So, the photo issue is just the vehicle to voice the media’s larger concern. They are no longer going to accept being lied to, and expected to report these lies as truths, and cover for this president. He is losing them, and they desperately want him to shape up because as we know, breaking up is hard to do and admitting you were wrong about someone is even harder. They want him to be all the dreams he allowed them to project upon him, but like a jilted lover, the media can only bear so much. Obama is making them look like fools, and they lose their credibility along with the president for defending him.
It is a shame the media could not have been this truthful to themselves, and thus the public as well, during President Obama’s first term. They could have spared us this fiasco and having to bear witness to the worst managed administration since Carter and the least trustworthy since Nixon drag the country into the gutter. His lies to cover for his rank incompetence are a national embarrassment. While the media now looks to recover, it is no longer certain America ever can or will recover from the damage President Obama has done to it. So, this letter of expressed anger may be soul cleansing for them, but it does not absolve the liberal news media from being party to Obama’s destruction, and the pain of this truth for them should not be allowed to go away as easily as they now hope it will.