Obama Campaign Turns on Media

DALLAS, Oct. 30 — A lion tamer for a traveling circus was killed by their newest lion today. The circus acquired the new lion, Barry, from a zoo in Chicago. Barry seemed tame at first, but had become increasingly agitated in recent weeks after repeated unexpected discipline by the trainer, leading to an incident a week ago when he snapped at the trainer. The circus decided that the event was a one-time outburst and that Barry was tame, but Barry pounced upon the trainer yesterday, ripping his throat out, and injuring several others who tried to help the trainer. A circus spokesman said, “We continue to believe that Barry is inherently good, and our circus really needed the change from our older lion, Billy. We hope to be able to hire another lion tamer soon.”

And so it is with the dominant liberal media as the trainer to the Obama campaign’s lion — lulled into complacency by a handsome exterior only to be decimated by its rage.

The first outburst came when Joe Biden was asked some hard questions by a Florida TV reporter. The Obama campaign’s response was to blackball that station from any interviews with anyone related to the campaign.

The left argued that reporter’s husband is a consultant to Republicans, so the campaign’s response is excusable…and, hey, it was surely a one-time thing.

But on Friday morning, the Drudge Report had a new headline “Purge: Skeptical Reporters Tossed Off Obama Plane,” describing how reporters from the NY Post, the Washington Times, and the Dallas Morning News have been “told to move out”. Each of those newspapers had endorsed John McCain, although the Morning News supported Obama in the primaries.

Cartoon by William Warren courtesy of Americans for Limited Government

According to Drudge, “Despite pleas from top editors of the three newspapers that have covered the campaign for months at extraordinary cost, the Obama campaign says their reporters — and possibly others — will have to vacate their coveted seats so more power players can document the final days of Sen. Barack Obama’s historic campaign to become the first black American president.”

Still trying to play nice with the snarling beast of the Obama campaign, the Morning News says “we don’t have evidence that the newspaper’s endorsement of Sen. McCain had any bearing on the campaign’s decision…” while at the same time complaining bitterly (and justifiably) that they are “the only Southern or Southwestern paper that’s been on board constantly through October, and if we get booted, there won’t be any outside of New York, LA, Chicago, Washington and Boston.”

The paper also noted that they had a similar problem with the McCain campaign in terms of not being able to participate on all flights due to space constraints but they are “getting back on with McCain tomorrow for the final weekend because they, unlike the Obama campaign, are adding a second plane.”

If Obama can afford millions of dollars for a 30-minute multi-network infomercial, he certainly can afford to rent another jet for four days to accommodate more media. No, this isn’t about space. It’s about punishment.

The Washington Times didn’t suck up to Obama: “’This feels like the journalistic equivalent of redistributing the wealth. We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars covering Senator Obama’s campaign, traveling on his plane, and taking our turn in the reporters’ pool, only to have our seat given away to someone else in the last days of the campaign,’ said Washington Times Executive Editor John Solomon.”

An Obama spokesman admitted that politics were relevant in the booting-from-the-plane because Obama wants “to reach as many swing voters that we can.” But as the Morning News pointed out, that will only leave reporters for media outlets which serve committed Democratic areas and audiences, not undecided voters.

Most criticism of the dominant television and newspaper coverage of the campaign as being “in the tank” for Obama has been confined to conservative media outlets and blogs. But that is beginning to change.

Ten days ago, Michael Malone, a long-time technology reporter who now works for ABC News, wrote a scathing article attacking the traditional media for “playing a very, very dangerous game — with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates.”

Malone notes that “some of the most admired journalists in the country were exposed as plagiarists, or worse, accused of making up stories from whole cloth” and that the largest and most influential newspapers have “slowly let opinion pieces creep into the news section, and from there onto the front page.”

Yet even Malone has been surprised by what has occurred during this election season, saying “But nothing, nothing I’ve seen has matched the media bias on display in the current presidential campaign.” From refusing to dig into the background of Barack Obama to “taking apart the private life of an average man (Joe the Plumber) who had the temerity to ask a tough question,” Malone criticizes reporters but saves his harshest words for “the real culprits,” the editors, offering a theory that editors are abandoning their responsibilities and overtly supporting Obama in pursuit of job security: “With luck, this monolithic, single-party government will crush the alternative media via a revived fairness doctrine, re-invigorate unions by getting rid of secret votes, and just maybe be beholden to people like you in the traditional media for getting it there.”

Even the most liberal of the major media outlets seem to be figuring out that at the end of the day, the lion is never tame and the trainer must maintain some level of parity — if not dominance — to avoid being slaughtered, whether by those they want to fawn over or by the destruction of the little bit of remaining respect (and therefore income) they have from the public. After all, the media requires readers or viewers to survive. They may be learning that overt partisanship is not a recipe for success; as the Hollywood Reporter tells us, “both sides of the aisle are ripping MSNBC”, the poster child for media bias, with “Pollster Frank Luntz…jok(ing) that MSNBC is ‘the only network with more letters in its name than viewers.’”

Luntz’s point must represent quite an object lesson for the rest of the traditional media. Following Obama’s Wednesday infomercial, both the Associated Press and CBS News ran articles criticizing Obama’s spending plans, with the AP saying the “ad skips over budget realities” and CBS confirming what conservatives have known all along: “He seems blind to the concept his numbers don’t add up.”

This was the first serious critique of the substance of Barack Obama’s outside of what most would call conservative media and blogs. But what does it mean?

Is the dominant liberal media realizing that the lion is losing respect for them? Have they figured out that it’s time to push back, to show the Obama campaign that while someone may be president for four years or eight, the media is forever?

Do they, or the reading and viewing public, recognize that a party which supports the “Fairness Doctrine” to muzzle conservatives could turn its talons against its former supporters, looking to create an American version of Stalin’s “official Soviet radio news” (as mentioned in this fascinating Time article from 1939)? Is it inconceivable that supporters of the “Fairness Doctrine” such as Obama, Pelosi, and Reid may think of the media in much the same way that Goebbels’ did in terms of its use in controlling the population and generating support for destructive policies, economic or otherwise?

An expert on the Depression era interviewed for this article offered a few insights: “It was Hoover who first worried about radio, warning that: ‘We cannot allow any single person or group to place themselves in a position where they can censor….nor do I believe that the government should ever be placed in a position of censoring this material.’ But, according to Fred Friendly in The Good Guys, The Bad Guys, and the First Amendment, in the1941 Mayflower decision (during FDR’s final term), the FCC said: ‘radio can serve as an instrument for democracy only when devoted to the communication of information and the exchange of ideas fairly and objectively presented. A truly free radio cannot be used to advocate the causes of the licensee.’ This truly foreshadows the Fairness Doctrine.” (It is instructive to note that even in the 1940s, unions opposed free speech. Some things never change.)

Does the Obama campaign’s attempt to use the public to shut down radio shows or to create “truth squads” of police and prosecutors to investigate ads the campaign dislikes not seem disturbingly similar to the hired crowds at Hugo Chavez rallies or Fidel Castro’s “block captains”?

The Obama lion has reminded its trainer, the traditional media, that lions are dangerous and unpredictable, not lovable pets. To keep his job, not to mention his life, it is time for the trainer to show the lion who’s boss…if it’s not too late.