Glenn Greenwald, in an article with the well-aimed title “Dog-training the press corps,” makes a convincing argument, with plenty of examples, that the reporters who praise Mr. Obama in print… i.e., those who kiss his ass… are rewarded with greater access and sweeter exclusives. This is not new with Obama, of course; the Bush 43 White House worked exactly the same way, and I suspect (without having actually researched the matter) that the practice goes back at least to the Reagan administration. Here’s Greenwald, following about a dozen examples of press asskissery:
I could spend the rest of the day doing this; this doesn’t even include the MSNBC personalities who spend every day of their lives, literally, praising the President and attacking his political opponents and are then amply rewarded with all sorts of “exclusive” interviews with White House officials and Obama campaign aides, which are exactly as hard-hitting and adversarial as you’d expect. This dog-training treatment of media figures was just as prevalent — and just as effective — during the Bush years (although, as someone with many dogs, I can honestly say that actual dogs are much more difficult to train than these journalists, who just need one or two biscuit crumbs in exchange for life-long devotion and obedience).
Indeed. Our White House press corps sucks, especially compared to dogs, and all presidents make use of that ugly fact. It is part of that fast drive down the slope and over the precipice that I spoke of in a recent post. Yes, of course, Obama is to be castigated for his dog-training of the press. And yes, we have to “keep [our] eyes wide open all the time,” as Johnny Cash sang it.
But as I mentioned in that same recent post, you don’t have to like the man; you don’t even have to reluctantly admire him… I don’t, and I don’t. All you have to do is recognize that on Jan. 20, 2013, one of two men will take an oath and begin issuing orders. Does Rmoney [sic] scare you in that role more than Obama? That’s the question that matters most when you decide how to vote. If you feel that you’re being played by O, you may well be right, but remember… you have a nation to save.