Vacuum-Packed News

July 3, 2009

Well, itís about time.
†† Finally, the national media stands aghast as a few of their own have stood up to challenge some of the insane shenanigans going on in Washington.
†† OK, itís only two of their own. The amazing thing is, near as I can tell, only CBS and Fox reported on it nationally, besides a few online outlets.
†† As a journalist, itís been appalling to watch network news cover Ė and I used the word loosely Ė press conferences with the President. Iím not addressing Mr. Obamaís policies, actions or other duties as president right now. It has to do with news conferences that are better scripted and choreographed than a George M. Cohan production.
†† What Iíve seen has been reporters merrily pre-submitting their questions, said questions being preapproved or dismissed, and the President reading from a list and calling on reporters from that list. Rumor has it, thereís also a seating chart on his podium so that he can find the right reporter in the crowd.
†† Iím less disappointed in the President than I am the media. But Wednesday, APís Helen Thomas Ė the old battleaxe of the wire services Ė and CBSís Chip Reid confronted White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Part of their exchange went as follows:
†† HELEN THOMAS: We have never had that in the White House. We have had some control [inaudible]. Iím amazed that you people who call for openness and transparencyÖ
†† ROBERT GIBBS: You havenít even heard the questions.
†† CHIP REID: It doesnít matter. Itís the process. Even if thereís a tough question, itís a question coming from somebody who was invited and who was screened or the question was screened.
†† GIBBS: Chip, Chip, lets have this discussion at the conclusion of the town hall meetings.
†† THOMAS: No, no, no, weíre having it now.
†† GIBBS: Well, Iíd be happy to have it now.
†† THOMAS: Itís a pattern.
†† GIBBS: Which questions do you object to at the town hall meeting?
†† THOMAS: Itís a pattern.
†† GIBBS: Whatís a pattern?
†† THOMAS: Itís a pattern of controlling the press.
†† GIBBS: How so? Is there any evidence going on that Iím currently controlling the press? Poorly, I might add.
†† THOMAS: Your formal engagements are prepackaged.
†† GIBBS: How so?
†† REID: Well, by controlling the public.
†† THOMAS: How so? By calling reporters the night before to tell them theyíre going to be called on. That is shocking.
†† GIBBS: Weíve had this discussion ad nauseum, and uhÖ
†† THOMAS: Of course you would, because you donít have any answers.
†† GIBBS: Uh, well, because I didnít know you were going to ask a question, Helen.
†† THOMAS: Well you should have.
†† GIBBS: Have you emailed your question today?
†† THOMAS: I donít have to email. I can tell you right now what I want to say.
†† GIBBS: I donít doubt that at all, Helen.
†† After the conference, Thomas was quoted by CNS News as saying:
†† ďNixon didnít try to do that. They couldnít control [the media]. They didnít try that. What the hell do they think we are, puppets? Theyíre supposed to stay out of our business. They are our public servants. We pay them. Iím not saying there has never been managed news before, but this is carried to fare-thee-well, for the town halls, for the press conferences. Itís blatant. They donít give a damn if you know it or not. They ought to be hanging their heads in shame.Ē
†† Hereís who reported on it Thursday, besides Fox and CBS: the Chicago Daily Observer, the Dakota voice, PrisonPlanet.com, the Daily Kos, NewsBusters.com, CNS News, Business Media Institute, the Weekly Standard, National Review Online and MediaBistro.com.
†† Itís a sad and sorry day when the media embraces any holder of public office, champions them and allows themselves to become puppets. The national media by-and-large is less trustworthy than the government itself, far more irresponsible and, as Iíve said before, youíll get more news from Stephen Colbert or a bottle of gin with a baby bottle nipple on the top, than most of the national media.
†† Thank goodness Thomas and Reid spoke up. Itís telling that nobody covered it, to speak of. Thomas and Reid have their own faults, but at least they spoke up.
†† You, the citizens of this nation, are not being served by a White House that preselects questions or a media that submits to that sort of control. Quite frankly, to be blunt, you are being deceived, misled, conned and led around like sheep to the slaughter.
†† I spent eight years condemning George W. Bush for his lies, deceptions and horrific decision making. Things have not improved one bit.
†† Iím in agreement with Thomas. The White House should be ashamed. But not so much as the national media. Itís they, in the end, who have let the people of the United States down. Elected officials can be voted out or serve their term limits and be out.
†† But the media who do this. Blindfold them and give them a cigarette.
††