Click here to add text
Click here to add text

I recall their arrogant cry during the campaign: Is the media powerless to elect Obama?

It was a rhetorical question where voters were completely left out of the equation.

No that they did install their puppet, Vanity Fair’s Michael Wolff is grudgingly admiring the way the media is now being manipulated by their “elected”:

The Obamas may have the smartest, most finely calibrated press operation in White House history, parceling out scoops (The New York Times), partisan talking points (the Huffington Post), and First Family tidbits (the celebrity mags) to a desperate media. Just don’t ask them to admit it.

And, make no mistake, for all the fawning, there’s resentment here as Wolff has been slighted

Even though I’ve been invited to the White House for a talk with Gibbs, there’s an abrupt cancellation when, after some chitchat with Burton, it becomes clear that my interest is in process rather than, per se, message.

In other words, the access is directly dependent on the content of the coverage.

We also find out that the White House which neglected to staff the Department of treasury for months during an economic crisis pays inordinate attention to its propaganda wing

In part this meticulousness is just good management. The Obama administration has started with 14 professionals working in the office of the press secretary—and an astounding 47 more devoted to other aspects of media and message—which is significantly more than the communications staffs of many Fortune 500 corporations.

Contrast that with areas not promoting Obama

After 51 days in office, Barack Obama has appointed only 73 people to 1,200 jobs that require Senate confirmation.

If they require Senate approval, they are important jobs.

But Obama is too busy to properly vet the people and appoint them to fill the jobs to get the work done.

Yet, Wolff asks us to be in awe at the good management!

Then extends his admiration to the press secretary who canceled his appointment

Gibbs has reversed this dynamic. It’s not just that he successfully holds the pressroom at bay. It’s that he clearly doesn’t take the press very seriously

And that, because Gibbs is all-knowing (I am not kidding, he says that), and the newspapers are about to fold economically

And then there’s the personal insecurity on the part of members of the incredible shrinking press—their days are numbered and they know it.

So how this reflect in what the citizens get to read?

All of which might have something to do in the dominance-and-submission equation with why, at the president’s 100-day press conference, there were no questions about the bailouts or Afghanistan, perhaps the two most intractable issues facing the administration. When the other guy is strong and you are weak, you try to behave yourself.

It’s not like the media was asking a lot of questions about the reason we went to war in Iraq and whether this was a good idea. And to make the irony more delicious, I remember a moment when Bush blamed the now unpopular war on the media’s “constant drumbeat of war” And indeed, Wolff finds some similarity to Bush’s propaganda, different messenger

The Huffington Post has become an ideal back door for the most partisan stuff. It’s being used in a way that suddenly seems not all that dissimilar to how the Bush White House used Fox News. It’s as obvious and as unfiltered.

And Wolffe continue to marvel at the multi-dimensional chess these people are playing by pretending the traditional media matters

“His M.O.,” says David Corn, a longtime Washington reporter who is a regular at the daily briefing, is “to talk to the dinosaurs.”


Indeed, The New York Times, and the rest of the established press, needs Barack Obama a lot more than he needs them.

and more importantly

Courting the dinosaurs, the Obama people feed the increasingly hungry new media the scraps—and manage, mostly, to have them thankful for them.

And they are fighting amongst themselves – notice the bitchy reception Wolffe had from his less favored colleagues

Such such genius! I imagine Gibbs feels like Angelina Jolie press secretary – in fact the comparison is actually made

Indeed, the efforts at control—negotiating all the nuances of celebrity coverage—by the White House press team are pretty much at the levels of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

All that, and he needs his own TV? Well, let’s face it, Brangelina never had one – a difference must be made!

After all, the only media thriving in this country now is celebrity media. Notes Wolff without any wonder or thought:

Arguably, the celebrity press came into existence and has grown with such force as a reflection of America’s disenchantment with and lack of interest in politics and politicians. Civic life lost its connection to popular culture.

Happily, Teh One grabbed this too (and McCain’s “Celebrity” ad was too racist)

Until Obama. Now, in the hierarchy of celebrities, nobody ranks as high, or is as cover-worthy, as the president and his family.

But does it mean civic life is now part of popular culture? Do people care about wars, torture, wiretapping or discrimination?

From Bush’s Fox to Obama all media, the road to dictatorship has became that much easier…And the only ones from the media who could see it and report it, choose to marvel at the beauty of the process instead.