The quote’s buried near the end of an otherwise silly TNR piece speculating that the media might be about to, ahem, turn on Barack Obama. After reading it, I can’t decide if the takeaway is (1) that the press is a bunch of whiny, self-entitled five-year-olds, per the comically overwrought reactions from Adam Nagourney and the reporters Obama ditched to meet with Hillary, (2) that TNR, which published a similar piece about Hillary last year, has an odd fondness for stories about journalists loathing the politicians they have to cover (“The difference is the Clinton people were hostile for no reason”), or (3) that Obama and his team really are arrogant, secretive jackasses paranoid to a provocative degree about St. Barack’s personal life.

In the interests of partisan advantage, I duly declare number three to be our winner. Money:

Much of this is certainly the run-of-the-mill complaining of campaign reporters who can’t get enough access. Still, the campaign hasn’t helped itself, approaching reporters with a sense of entitlement. “They’re an arrogant operation. Young and arrogant,” one reporter covering the campaign says. “They don’t believe in transparency with their own campaign,” another says.

Reporters who have covered Obama’s biography or his problems with certain voter blocs have been challenged the most aggressively. “They’re terrified of people poking around Obama’s life,” one reporter says. “The whole Obama narrative is built around this narrative that Obama and David Axelrod built, and, like all stories, it’s not entirely true. So they have to be protective of the crown jewels.” Another reporter notes that, during the last year, Obama’s old friends and Harvard classmates were requested not to talk to the press without permission.

As tensions escalate, the risk to Obama, of course, is that reporters will be emboldened to challenge his campaign ever more aggressively.

So absurd is that last line, three months out from the election with Obama clinging to a small lead despite the media’s best efforts, that I’m inclined to dismiss the whole piece as counterprogramming for McCain’s “Love” ad. As it is, given the way innocuous details about him have metastasized, I don’t much blame them for not cooperating on biographical pieces. The irony is, if they have nothing to hide then the secrecy’s probably hurting them by fostering suspicions that could otherwise easily be debunked. Read this NBC “Deep Background” piece about Obama’s “senior thesis” at Columbia on Soviet nuclear disarmament. Sounds innocent enough — until you learn that his spokesman won’t even discuss what happened to Obama’s copy of it. Smart thinkin’. Let the investigation begin!

Tags: Barack Obama