Last night, Andrea Mitchell charged on Hardball that the interviews of Barack Obama in Iraq were “fake”. Newsbusters and Crooks and Liars have the video, but oddly enough, MS-NBC has not published last night’s exchange on its website. That seems very odd, as this exchange should be rather newsworthy:
MATTHEWS: Yeah, go ahead, please.
MITCHELL: Let me just say something about the message management. He didn’t have reporters with him, he didn’t have a press pool, he didn’t do a press conference while he was on the ground in either Afghanistan or Iraq. What you’re seeing is not reporters brought in. You’re seeing selected pictures taken by the military, questions by the military, and what some would call fake interviews, because they’re not interviews from a journalist. So, there’s a real press issue here. Politically it’s smart as can be. But we’ve not seen a presidential candidate do this, in my recollection, ever before. …
MITCHELL: I can’t really say that. Being a reporter who was not present in any of those situations, I just cannot report on what was edited out, what was, you know, on the sidelines. That’s my issue. We don’t know what we are seeing.
NBC has gone to great expense to have Mitchell, Brian Williams, and their support staff tour the world with Obama. Why would they keep this kind of news off of its video offerings at MS-NBC’s site? Today, they have a wide selection of stories available to its viewers, with such pressing topics as a popular YouTube of a lion, a promo interview for the movie Stepbrothers, and the alleged assault by Christian Bale on his mother and sister.
If they didn’t want to report on the trip and excessive handling and isolation of Obama from the press, why did NBC send so many resources to follow him?
John Amato argues that Mitchell has it all wrong:
When she says “what some would call” I guess she means herself. Will Andrea go on a limb and say every interview on FOX News is not legitimate when Cheney, Bush or McCain appear? How about when she joins O’Reilly? Or when someone is interviewed on a blog? The Daily Show has some very interesting interviews, does that not count? Is the military not capable of performing interviews? Where does she draw the line? Saying they are “fake interviews” really goes too far.
John has a point here, although he goes far overboard; Fox is more credible than MS-NBC, especially when it comes to Obama. Since I do a number of interviews with people across the political spectrum, I’d also have to question the notion that they are “fake” because the MSM didn’t supervise them. The interviews can speak for themselves, at least to the extent of their editing — but that is also true of MSM interviews, too.
However, the larger point Mitchell makes is that Obama is being “handled” to a high degree, and that the campaign is keeping him as far away from the press as possible. They’re only allowing for controlled events and images to appear, which goes against the entire idea of “New Politics” and transparency — and it also strongly suggests that the campaign can’t trust Obama to handle himself. Mitchell raises a very serious point with her report, and MS-NBC’s sudden reluctance to republish it underscores their own lack of objectivity in this campaign.
Update: Video “found”: