Has the end of the affair come for the love between the media and Barack Obama? If so, his World Tour certainly didn’t provide any evidence of it as network anchors and other American journalists followed Obama like groupies on a world tour. Gabriel Sherman sees indications of a falling out at The New Republic, though — tell-tale signs that the relationship is ending. The biggest problem? Arrogance:
Reporters who cover Obama these days grouse that Obama’s flacks shroud the campaign in secrecy and provide little to no access. “They’re more disciplined than the Bush people,” a reporter on the Obama trail gripes. “There was this idea of being transparent, but they’re not. They’re total tightwads with information.”
In June, there was something of a revolt after Obama ditched the press corps on his campaign plane for a secret meeting with Clinton at Senator Dianne Feinstein’s house in Washington, leaving the reporters trapped on the flight to Chicago. The D.C. bureau chiefs of half a dozen news organizations, including the late Tim Russert, sent an angry letter to Obama aides Robert Gibbs and David Plouffe and threatened not to reimburse the campaign for the cost of the flight. “The decision to mislead reporters is a troubling one,” they wrote. “We hope this does not presage a relationship with the Obama campaign that is not based on a mutual respect for the truth.” After the incident, the press corps decided that one pool reporter would keep Obama in sight at all times. “It’s a body watch,” one reporter jokes.
Meanwhile, there have been widespread complaints over the shortage of spots to accompany Obama on his tour of the Middle East and Europe. A few days before the tour departed, Time magazine was told it couldn’t send a photographer along, and, on July 22, NBC foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell complained on-air that the only images the press had received of Obama meeting with the troops was released by the U.S. military. (To be fair, congressional delegations to Iraq are kept secret for security purposes). And there’s been widespread grumbling that the campaign revoked New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza’s spot on the trip as retribution for the magazine’s recent satirical cover. These may or may not be legitimate complaints–the evidence is mixed–but the press is hardly inclined to give the campaign the benefit of the doubt.
Sherman jokes in his conclusion that Obama has given John McCain an opening to win back his “base” in the media, but that may not be far off the mark. McCain got a lot more friendly treatment in 2000 when running against George Bush in the primaries, and up to the time he announced his candidacy in 2007, that treatment continued. The press abandoned him for Obama, but the media may now rethink its love affair with the Democrat.
What kills relationships? Arrogance and a “sense of entitlement”, as Sherman writes. They limit access to Obama even on campaign tours and avoid the same transparency that Obama claims to champion in government. And they attack reporters who write anything critical about them. Under those circumstances, the bloom will eventually fall off the rose.
However, as Allahpundit said last night, I’d doubt that the media will suddenly send a Dear Barack letter to the campaign and rediscover their amorous passion for McCain, and for a simple reason — Obama’s younger and better looking, and has better sound bites. Obama sells, and the media’s passion will follow both the money and their own progressive biases. Besides, they have to compete with their European counterparts, who clearly haven’t become jaded with the Obamessiah yet:
But nobody in the German press appears to have been quite as smitten by their visitor as Bild reporter Judith Bonesky, who had the opportunity to work out with Obama in the gym of the Ritz Carlton Hotel earlier in the day.
“Obama (with toned arms and a strong back) puts on his headphones for his iPod to listen to pop music. He hums quietly. Then he jumps on a fitness bike. He pushes three times on the pedals — but then can’t be bothered with it.
“He picks up a pair of 16 kilo weights and starts curling them with his left and right arms, 30 repetitions on each side. Then, amazingly, he picks up the 32 kilo weights! Very slowly he lifts them, first 10 curls with his right, then 10 with his left.
Quickly I ask: “Mr. Obama, could I take a photo?”. “Of course!” he answers, before asking my name and coming over to stand next to me. “My name’s Judith” I reply. “I’m Barack Obama, nice to meet you!” he says, and puts his arm across my shoulder. I put my arm around his hip — wow, he didn’t even sweat! WHAT A MAN!”
Hey, nothing revives a relationship like a little jealousy. If Obama’s flirting with attractive Europeans, you can bet that the media will redouble their efforts to woo him away from those tarty German reporters.