We have often pointed out the incestuous relationship that exists between the Obama administration and the mainstream media—a media that have largely bought the administration’s line that matters such as Benghazi, Operation Fast and Furious, and the IRS abuses amount to phony scandals. Throughout his presidency, President Obama has assumed control over media messaging by restricting the information and sources that journalists can access, while simultaneously providing prepackaged products that serve as government-sponsored press releases that the media are welcome to use. And, so far, the media have bent to these restrictions with little protest.
Where, for example, is the mainstream media protest that they are not allowed to embed with the soldiers conducting the air war against the Islamic State? “As the United States ramps up its fight against Islamic militants, the public can’t see any of it,” states one of eight criticisms from Sally Buzbee, Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief. “News organizations can’t shoot photos or video of bombers as they take off—there are no embeds. In fact, the administration won’t even say what country the S. bombers fly from.”
In fact, the information regarding Syrian attacks is provided by the government. “At a briefing for reporters, military officials showed photographs and video of before and after shots of the targets hit in Syria,” reported The New York Times on September 23. Perhaps the Obama administration doesn’t want reporters embedded in the fight against the Islamic State because it fears that the closer to the front line they are, the more journalists may be kidnapped and beheaded by terrorists and videos of such beheadings disseminated as vile propaganda. Or maybe they don’t want the world to see the collateral damage that will surely occur.
The dearth of first-hand journalism allowed by the administration has resulted in creative maneuvers by the press here at home, as well. The Washington Post ran a video on its website’s Post TV that was little more than a clip of a Whitehouse.gov segment—without commentary to clarify President Obama’s speech. And, during our border crisis and rapid influx of illegal immigrants, the Obama administration forbade the press to take pictures or ask questions during their visit to Fort Sill. Instead, government officials promised they would provide sanctioned photographs later.
Now, The Washington Post reports how even the most minute details are deleted or massaged by the White House from press pool reports. Such pool reports “are supposed to be the news media’s eyes and ears on the president, an independent chronicle of his public activities. They are written by reporters for other reporters, who incorporate them into news articles about President Obama almost every day,” reports Paul Farhi for the Post.
“Journalists who cover the White House say Obama’s press aides have demanded—and received—changes in press-pool reports before the reports have been disseminated to other journalists,” reports Farhi. “They say the White House has used its unusual role as the distributor of the reports as leverage to steer coverage in a more favorable direction.”
What exactly is going on with the most “transparent” administration ever? Doesn’t it value press freedom? And what about a little self-respect from the media, which would never allow a Republican administration to treat them this way?
Perhaps the media won’t be silent on this issue for much longer.