How Obama plays media like a fiddle

How Obama
plays media like a fiddle

By: John F. Harris and Jim
VandeHei

February 7, 2011 04:44 AM EST


In early November, Barack Obama
was one sad sack of a president — his agenda repudiated by midterm voters, his
political judgment scorned by commentators, his future darkened by a growing
belief he might be a one-time president.

In early February, Obama is
master of the moment — his polls on the
upswing
, his political dexterity applauded by pundits, his status as
Washington’s dominant figure unchallenged even by Republicans.

This
three-month metamorphosis says something about Obama’s survival skills, but the
turnabout says even more about the mainstream media: Obama is playing the press like a fiddle.
(Related: Obama’s latest joint news conference)

He is doing it by
exploiting some of the most long-standing traits among reporters who cover
politics and government — their favoritism for politicians perceived as
ideologically centrist and willing to profess devotion to Washington’s
oft-honored, rarely practiced civic religion of bipartisanship.

Time’s
Mark Halperin has hailed Obama as “magnetic,” “distinguished” and “inspiring” —
in one story. ABC’s Christiane Amanpour saw “Reaganesque” optimism and
“Kennedyesque” encouragement — all in one speech. Howard Fineman, the former
Newsweek columnist who now writes for The Huffington Post, said conductor Obama
was now leading a “love train” through D.C.

Swing voters are swooning
, too. It’s no coincidence. Polls
suggest that many independents have many of the same easily aroused erogenous
zones as reporters — and improved poll numbers lead to more coverage of the
Obama-gets-his-groove-back narrative. (See: Obama’s SOTU challenge to GOP)

Sustaining an effective
governing center over the long term would be a formidable achievement by Obama.
Riding a short-term wave of centrism fever, by contrast, has proved surprisingly
simple.
Here’s how Obama used the MSM to take a fast lane to the middle of
the road.

Bow to Bipartisanship

Conservatives
are convinced the vast majority of reporters at mainstream news organizations
are liberals who hover expectantly for each new issue of The Nation.

It’s
just not true. The majority of political writers we know might more accurately
be accused of centrist bias.

That is, they believe broadly in government
activism but are instinctually skeptical of anything that smacks of ideological
zealotry and are quick to see the public interest as being distorted by
excessive partisanship. Governance, in the Washington media’s ideal, should be a
tidier and more rational process than it is.

In this fantasy, every
pressing problem could be solved with a blue-ribbon commission chaired by Sam
Nunn and David Gergen that would go into seclusion at Andrews Air Force Base for
a week, not coming back until it had a deal to cut entitlements and end
obesity.

Bill Clinton’s best press came when he made a deal with Newt
Gingrich on the budget, and George W. Bush got favorable coverage when he reached a deal
with Ted Kennedy on education reform and in the brief period after Sept. 11 when
the terrorist attacks brought Washington together.

Obama is taking
advantage of the press’s bias for bipartisan process, a preference that often
transcends the substance of any bipartisan policy. (See: GOP, Dem lawmakers sit together)

It was an easy
choice. In the wake of the Democratic rout in November, for instance, it would
have been political suicide to risk letting taxes go up. So Obama shrewdly
ignored his own party’s liberals and made a big show of wanting to cooperate
with Republicans on the Bush tax cuts — and reaped a bonanza of favorable news
stories as a result.

He’s been getting more for his embrace of free trade
in a recent pact with South Korea and his plan to speak Monday to the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, with whom he earlier had a high-profile clash.

 

Respect the Village Elders

Most political reporters
live in Washington. So it’s not really surprising that they tend to respect
presidents who show respect for Washington culture, Washington rituals and,
above all, Washington operatives.

Early in his presidency Obama — like
many of his predecessors when they first arrived — was seen as cool or even
hostile to permanent Washington.

After the midterm defeats, it was an
important part of his rehabilitation to be seen as having learned his
lesson.

Among the stops in this process was consulting with eminent
Washington worthies who are themselves veterans of White Houses past. Aides let
it be known that Obama had huddled with Ken Duberstein, a lobbyist who was chief
of staff under Ronald Reagan; John Podesta, who was chief of staff under Clinton
and now runs the Center for American Progress; and Gergen, who doesn’t actually
live in Washington but (so far) has served under four presidents (Nixon, Ford,
Reagan, Clinton) and is the high priest of Washington
bipartisanship.

Let History Drive the
Narrative

Reporters are suckers for comparisons — often glib or
even bogus comparisons — between current and past presidents. Obama and aides
did not much like this habit when he was being regularly compared to Jimmy Carter.

But in recent weeks
Obama has managed to turn the history game to his advantage by ostentatiously
inviting comparisons to two more successful presidents: Reagan and
Clinton.

Neither got terrific coverage while president. Both are viewed
in retrospect as effective two-term presidents who survived and prospered during
their time in Washington.

Obama was seen carrying a copy of Lou Cannon’s
Reagan biography under his arm on vacation. And his aides have happily played
along with stories drawing links between the two — despite oceanwide differences
in ideology, temperament, intellectual habits, personal history and rhetorical
style.

In the category of You Can’t Make It Up, weeks of stories and
columns about the comparison culminated with this cover of Time magazine — “Why
Obama Loves Reagan” — and a manufactured picture of the two men side by side,
smiling optimistically.

Obama couldn’t buy an ad like that.

The
only thing better would have been for all three major networks to call last
month’s State of the Union speech “Reaganesque” for its uplifting tone. He got
that, too.

The Clinton comparisons are a bit trickier, given the
complicated history between the two men and the Obama team’s previous publicly
expressed condescension toward Clinton’s presidency.

But here, too, Obama
let it be known to The New York Times that he was reading Taylor Branch’s book
on Clinton. And he brought Clinton in for a lengthy conversation in December and
even invited him to hold forth in the White House briefing
room.

Meanwhile, the post-midterm White House inner circle looks like a
recycling center for Clinton administration veterans
: Bill
Daley
as White House chief of staff; Bruce
Reed
as the vice president’s chief of staff; Gene Sperling as economic adviser; Jack
Lew
as budget director, and the list goes on.

 

Damn Those Deficits

Reagan may have shown that
deficits don’t matter, as Dick Cheney supposedly said, but the media focus on
deficits as the litmus test for all serious politicians goes on. Reporters love
hearing Obama talk with a furrowed brow about the grave threat of a $14 trillion
pile of debt (even if that politician was responsible for stacking $3 trillion
of it).

If there was one unmistakable takeaway from the elections, it was
that independents were furious with Obama and Democrats for growing government too big, too fast.

“The American
people are absolutely concerned about spending and debt and deficits,” Obama
said at his press conference the day after the midterms. “We already had a big
deficit that I inherited, and that has been made worse because of the recession.
As we bring it down, I want to make sure that we’re not cutting into education
that is going to help define whether or not we can compete around the
world.”

John Boehner, likewise, won huge style points for his handling
of this, rhetorically speaking. The Ohio Republican, who is hardly a master of
the public stage, used every speech to talk about cutting spending and went out
of his way to sound and act humble (even as some Republicans were
second-guessing the size of those actual cuts). Mitch McConnell jumped into the act, easing his longtime
opposition to banning earmarks in the Senate.

Obama had little choice but
to steal their rhetoric — and that’s exactly what he did with the State
of the Union speech
, first by leaking word of a five-year spending freeze
(after a two-year spending spree) and then warning in his remarks, “Both parties
in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks in it, I
will veto it. I will veto it.”

Time will tell how serious Obama’s
rhetoric is. In one exception to his recent ride of positive coverage, the
Washington Post editorial page said Obama is not showing enough courage or
candor in tackling budget problems.

Wind Up the Wing
Nuts

Obama could have walked to the House floor and read his
birth certificate, and the State of the Union speech would still have been a big
media and PR success. Two people deserve credit: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Sen. Mark
Udall
(D-Colo.).

Bachmann did Obama the biggest favor by announcing
that she would give her
own tea party response to the speech
. The media jumped on the divided GOP
story (since Boehner and GOP leaders were steamed at her decision), and the
night ended with Bachmann, not GOP leaders, dominating the message. (
Related: Bachmann’s GOP
critics are terrified of her following
)

And Udall gave him the
biggest insurance policy by leading the campaign for Republicans and Democrats to co-mingle in the audience. To a
casual viewer, it seemed like everyone was giving standing applause, even to
Obama’s most partisan remarks.

This is a preview of how easy it could be
for Obama to appear like a centrist for the remainder of the next two years.
With the Bachmann crowd on one side and angry liberals eager to raise money,
membership and their own profile on the other, Obama can plop in
between.

Every gesture, however empty, toward the center will draw a
frothing attack from different sets of liberal outlets. The most visible might
be the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has built a robust e-mail
list and fundraising model by pressuring Obama from the left.

The media
love stories about the internal wars in both parties. Obama, in his new
determination to hold the center, now loves them, too.

Alinsky’s rhetoric

Alinsky’s rhetoric

K.E. Campbell

Leftist journalists, politicians, and activists have made much of conservatives’ use of certain symbols or metaphors, targets and crosshairs in particular. Weaponry and military metaphors are part of political campaigns and political discourse and probably always will be. Think “battleground states”, “targeting for defeat”, “kill the bill”, even the word “campaign” for that matter.

Before the Left goes too far down this road of casting aspersions at the language of their political opponents, they might want to take a fresh look at the president’s own community organizing playbook, Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, a book the author dedicated to Lucifer.
Using Amazon.com’s search inside the book feature, I cursorily noted the use of the word “target” 12 times, “attack” 26 times, “enemy” 32 times, and “weapon” 11 times. The Prologue includes the following: “you can miss the target by shooting too high as well as too low.” Alinsky’s Rules include the following (bold added):
Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.
Whenever possible, go outside the experience of the enemy.
Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.
Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
A good tactic is one your people enjoy.
Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose.
The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.
If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counterside… every positive has its negative.
The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
In his book Alinsky also wrote, “Before men can act, an issue must be polarized. Men will act when they are convinced their cause is 100 percent on the side of the angels, and that the opposition are 100 percent on the side of the devil.”

More Tea Party Violence?

More Tea Party Violence?

Jack Cashill

Before anyone had publicly identified the shooter of Arizona Congreswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the wire services were busily and shamelessly trying to establish a link between the violence and the Tea Party movement.

The fact that Giffords is a Democrat and that the shooter, 22 year-old Jared Lee Loughner, is a white gun owner assures that they will continue to do so in spite of ample evidence to the contrary.
To be fair, Loughner’s YouTube and MySpace pages show someone who is pretty seriously deranged.  His favorite books, however, include none that might be construed as Tea Party favorites with the possible exception of Ayn Rand’s We The Living.
The book also includes some gentle liberal favorites like To Kill A Mockingbird, hippie cult hits like Siddartha and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and that ultimate left wing classic, the Communist Manifesto.
Loughner has also produced a confused, type-only video for YouTube.  In it, he attempts to acquaint the viewer with an unexplained phenomenon called “conscience dreaming.”  Through this process he hopes to promote literacy and introduce a “new currency” to “literate dreamers.” It does not go any deeper than that.
In the next few days, the best strategy is to ignore the media noise and pray for those victims like Gifffords will survive and and for those several victims who will not.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/01/more_tea_party_violence.html at January 09, 2011 – 10:31:31 AM CST

Reward: $100,000 for Full ‘JournoList’ Archive; Source Fully Protected

Reward: $100,000 for Full ‘JournoList’ Archive; Source Fully Protected

by Andrew Breitbart

I’ve had $100,000 burning in my pocket for the last three months and I’d really like to spend it on a worthy cause. So how about this: in the interests of journalistic transparency, and to offer the American public a unique insight in the workings of the Democrat-Media Complex, I’m offering $100,000 for the full “JournoList” archive, source fully protected. Now there’s an offer somebody can’t refuse.

liberal media bias

Yes, the mainstream media that came together to play up the false allegations that the “N-Word” was hurled 15 times by Tea Party participants at the Congressional Black Caucus outside the Capitol the day before the “Obamacare” vote, is the same MSM that colluded to make sure the American public accepted the smear, and refused to show the exculpatory videos that disproved the incendiary charges of Tea Party racism.

Ezra Klein’s “JournoList 400” is the epitome of progressive and liberal collusion that conservatives, Tea Partiers, moderates and many independents have long suspected and feared exists at the heart of contemporary American political journalism. Now that collusion has been exposed when one of the weakest links in that cabal, Dave Weigel, was outed. Weigel was, in all likelihood, exposed because – to whoever the rat was who leaked his emails — he wasn’t liberal enough.

When the “N-word” controversy turned out to be an almost certain falsehood, Weigel had the professional courage to come out against 399 of his “JournoList” peers when he wrote:

I think we’ve seen a paradigm shift, and that the March 20 story will be remembered by conservatives as evidence of how the media accepts attacks on conservatives without due diligence.

Weigel also had the courage to issue a correction and a mea culpa when his reporting was used as a weapon by the unscrupulous Max Blumenthal to falsely smear James O’Keefe as a “racist organizer” of a white nationalist conference. Weigel eventually stepped up and set the record straight when he found out he was falsely named as a witness to the story.

Why was he chosen for outing among 400 “JournoList” participants? I can think of few liberal journalists who have been more fair than Weigel. And if I think that, imagine what true partisans on the left feel about his erratic and ideologically unpredictable output?

Weigel’s career at the Washington Post was assassinated for his crimes against conformity. Try as he might, as a left-leaning journalist he didn’t conform enough. When conservatives jumped on his exposure, he cited defending me as a mitigating alibi. Defending me publicly is a hangable offense in them thar liberal hills!

But Dave Weigel is not the story. The “JournoList” is the story: who was on it and which positions of journalistic power and authority do they hold? Now that the nature and the scope of the list has been exposed, I think the public has a right to know who shapes the big media narratives and how.

Ezra Klein

Dave Weigel is a portal into the dark world of hardcore liberal bias in the media. This opening gives us a deeper insight into the insidious relationship between liberal think tanks, academics and their mouthpieces in the media.

As we already uncovered in our expose on the “Cry Wolf” project, members of academia and think tanks are actively working to form the narrative used by the press to thwart conservative messages. Like a ventriloquist’s dummy, the reporters on the listserv mimicked the talking points invented and agreed upon by the intellectuals who were invited to the virtual cocktail party that was Klein’s “JournoList.”

And let us not forget the participation of Media Matters in the larger picture of intimidation and mockery for any reporter, like Weigel, who dares stray from the one acceptable liberal narrative in the media. Flying its false flag as a “media watchdog,” the $10 million-or-so per year agitprop command center creates and promotes a system of conformity in which it relentlessly attacks anyone who strays from the Soros-funded party orthodoxy.

The deluge of intimidation showered upon the occasional heretic by Media Matters represent another distinct layer in the media infrastructure that ensures true believer liberals are overrepresented and conservatives had better watch their step.

The fact that 400 journalists did not recognize how wrong their collusion, however informal, was shows an enormous ethical blind spot toward the pretense of impartiality. As journalists actively participated in an online brainstorming session on how best to spin stories in favor of one party against another, they continued to cash their paychecks from their employers under the impression that they would report, not spin the agreed-upon “news” on behalf of their “JournoList” peers.

The American people, at least half of whom are the objects of scorn of this group of 400, deserve to know who was colluding against them so that in the future they can better understand how the once-objective media has come to be so corrupted and despised.

We want the list of journalists that comprised the 400 members of the “JournoList” and we want the contents of the listserv. Why should Weigel be the only person exposed and humiliated?

I therefore offer the sum of $100,000 to the person who provides the full “JournoList” archive. We will protect that person’s privacy and identity forever. No one will ever know who became $100,000 richer – and did the right thing, morally and ethically — by shining the light of truth on this seamy underworld of the media.

$100,000 is not a lot to spend on the Holy Grail of media bias when there is a country to save.

The Left Airbrushes History to Neuter America

The Left Airbrushes History to Neuter America

2010 June 20

The doctoring of Churchill’s photo reflects the Left’s larger-scale attempt to doctor historical accounts with biased left-wing ideology.

The Left has a long and sordid history of rewriting historical narratives in order to promote its radical agenda. The late and infamous Howard Zinn was perhaps the most well known left-wing propagandist, but there are many others like him in academia, the media and politics.

I’m reminded of the Left’s attempt to rewrite the past so as to control the future because of a recent blog post by the esteemed Michael Ledeen.

Ledeen references a recent story in the London Telegraph, which shows the famous picture of Churchill now on display in a British museum. Churchill is without his trademark cigar. The cigar, you see, is no longer politically correct; and so it has been airbrushed out of the picture.

This may seem like no big deal. However, as Ledeen notes, it is indicative of a much bigger problem:

[O]ne that existed long before Soviet airbrushes and Reuters photoshops: the battle for control over the past.

He who writes history manipulates contemporary consciousness in order to affect the future. As Voltaire nicely put it, “History is a bag of tricks we play upon the dead.”

Which brings me to the central crisis in America today: increasingly, our people don’t know much of anything about the past.

Look at the history curricula at the top universities, and marvel, as I do, at the near-total lack of courses in military history. It’s been airbrushed out.

I can’t help believing that this is purposeful. The academic elites don’t want Americans to know that the history of man is basically the history of war.

Peace has many dangers, including the potentially fatal belief that all disputes can be negotiated.

Before conservatives can truly win politically, they first must recover America’s past. This will not be easy, given that the Left dominates the academy. But as Ronald Reagan once said, “facts are stubborn things.” America’s real history is irrepressible: It will not be denied; it will be heard; and conservatives must ensure that it is so.

Helen Thomas Should Go Back to Mordor or the Star Wars Cantina and Get Out of Reporting

Helen Thomas Should Go Back to Mordor or the Star Wars Cantina and Get Out of Reporting

By Doug Powers  •  June 4, 2010 04:13 PM

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

And yet, there she’ll be in the front row of the next White House press conference:

White House press corps dean Helen Thomas — on the day that the White House hosted a Jewish Heritage Celebration, no less — said that Jews who live in Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go “home.”

When asked where home was for Israeli Jews, Thomas offered “Poland, Germany… and America and everywhere else” that the founding generation of the State of Israel originally hailed.

Just think what she’d say if she wasn’t clinging to her unbiased journalistic instincts.

Click play if you dare — just looking at the still can haunt your dreams:

Hate video

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7X3ktE-6-uA

Update: Thomas issues a statement of regret for what she said.

From Allahpundit:

I’m satisfied. Who among us hasn’t innocently stumbled into a statement of support for ethnic cleansing when we didn’t really mean it?

Well…

Helen Thomas has become one of those octogenarian dinner guests soiling themselves at the table in ever increasing amounts who nobody has the guts to lock in the bathroom.

**Written by guest-blogger Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Plugged one hole

Cartoon by Miguel Guanipa
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