Protect the Precious!

The media have always been very protective of Barack Obama, but watching them close ranks around the President in the waning days of his crashing Administration is remarkable to behold.  Enjoy this photo of the YOLO POTUS dancing the night away with the rich and famous in Martha’s Vineyard while the world, and certain precincts of Missouri, burned down around him, because the “journalist” who snapped the photos has deleted them, after they went viral and brought an avalanche of criticism:


The event was, like much of the Obama Administration, closed to the press.  And the press is just fine with that.  They drop stories as soon as this White House tells them to.  They nod obediently when told they can’t take their own photos of anything Obama doesn’t want the people to see, from his dance parties to disease-riddled detention centers on the southern border.  When they were told photos of Obama’s incessant golfing were making him look bad, most of them obediently switched their cameras off.  The media didn’t even complain for long when they found out the Administration was investigating them, even threatening to prosecute them.

Very few of the big revelations in major stories damaging to Obama have come from the mainstream press.  When Obama refuses Freedom of Information Act requests, the media tugs its collective forelock and considers the matter closed.  When he builds a stonewall, they sniff it once, then wag their tails and wanders away.  Almost all of the chips in that stonewall have been dug by either House Republicans or conservative watchdog organizations, notably Judicial Watch.  And those Judicial Watch stories have followed not the fulfillment of FOIA requests, but victory in lawsuits, of the type our vaunted mainstream press never seems to get around to filing against the Obama Administration.  Judicial Watch just filed another one, in concert with reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who was a bit too investigative for the tastes of her old bosses at CBS News, looking for documents on the absolute disaster of the Affordable Care Act rollout.  Attkisson made FOIA requests of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, beginning in October 2013, but they ignored her.

Obama likes to drag scandals behind him until they die of old age.  That wouldn’t work if the media didn’t help.  They should be screaming from the rooftops when investigations are stonewalled and FOIA requests are ignored.  But they don’t.  Months and years go by, until courts finally force Team Obama to cough up vital documents… while the mainstream press yawns and wonders why anyone still cares about that old story.

The Precious is protected by the muted intensity of such bad coverage as he does receive.  There’s never a “narrative” linking his many failures into a coherent story about corruption, incompetence, and dishonesty.  One need only sub in a hypothetical President Romney who did exactly the same things – including exactly the same illegal modifications to ObamaCare – to imagine what that narrative would look like.

It was fun watching the media herd thrash around in confusion after Hillary Clinton tried to distance herself from Obama’s foreign policy a few days ago, wasn’t it?  They weren’t sure if their loyalty to Obama should trump their loyalty to Clinton, and their desire to secure her election as President.  They started to close ranks around her and pump up her utterly ridiculous claims to have been a bitter, but silent, critic during her muzzled days as Secretary of State.  But then Obama’s people got hold of Clinton and let her know such disloyalty would not be tolerated, so she and Obama announced a “hug summit” at Martha’s Vineyard, and the press got to swoon over both of them.  A happy ending for all!

It’s not just journalists protecting Obama.  This week brings the amazing story of Simon and Schuster editor Sarah Durand, who rejected a book proposal from recovered POW Bowe Bergdahl’s colleagues explicitly because she thought the book would hurt The Precious, and as a big Obama donor, she couldn’t stand by and let that happen.  From Yahoo News:

While the U.S. Army weighs whether to bring charges against Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed earlier this year after spending nearly five years as a Taliban captive in Afghanistan, six of his former platoon mates are shopping proposals for a book and movie that would render their own harsh verdicts.

A draft of their book proposal, a copy of which was obtained by Yahoo News, depicts Bergdahl as a “premeditated” deserter who “put all of our lives in danger” ??? and possibly aided the Taliban ??? when he disappeared from his observation post in eastern Afghanistan in the early morning hours of June 30, 2009.

But the political furor over Bergdahl’s release from Taliban captivity ??? the result of a U.S.-Taliban deal to swap five Guantanamo terrorism suspects in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom ??? is complicating the book’s prospects. Agents for the soldiers say that some publishers have balked, in at least one case out of fear that the project would bolster conservative criticism of the Obama administration.

“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends,” Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, wrote in an email to one of the soldiers’ agents.

“[T]he Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama,” Durand wrote, “and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'” ??? a reference to the group behind a controversial book that raised questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record in the midst of his 2004 presidential campaign. (Durand did not respond to requests for comment. “We do not comment about our editorial process,” said Paul Olsewski, vice president and director of publicity at Atria.)

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are primarily “controversial” because the media wanted to get John Kerry elected – good Lord, look at that buffoon stumbling around the Middle East and imagine what his presidency would have been like! – so they started describing the Vets as “controversial” on the day they first attracted attention.  Groups that support Democrats or attack Republicans don’t seem to merit that “controversial” designation, do they?  At any rate, Obama can’t really be “swift boated” (a left-wing euphemism for “telling inconvenient truths about a Democrat”) because he’s not running for re-election again.  But this editor thinks a book should be suppressed just because it would make His Majesty look bad.

Where would Obama be, if he faced a media culture of interviewers determined to ask him tough questions, reporters willing to pursue stories the White House dislikes, writers who remember things he said more than a week ago, comedians willing to make fun of him, and the general atmosphere of suspicion that a free press should always display towards those in power?  Editorial positions are always subjects of debate – that is, arguably, the point of having them – but the adversarial relationship Republican presidents have with the press is the appropriate model for all administrations.  When the press becomes courtiers and palace guards for a White House they love, their function is corrupted.  Every system can deal with a little corruption, but when it’s endemic – 80 or 90 percent of the press voting the same way, and feeling the same urge to protect the guy they voted for – the media system is dysfunctional.  And since the media has become the primary check on executive power, that’s a big problem.