"Earlier this month he (Washington Post's Ezra Klein) was caught giving briefings to congressional Democratic staff heads. And last year, he was exposed as the mastermind behind the incestuous "JournoList" listserv."
12/21/11, "Obama’s Media Flying Monkeys Get Their Marching Orders, Gear Up To Do Battle," IBD Editorial
"Now the mainsteam media aren't even trying to conceal it. Witness the leading lights of the Beltway press who went to the White House Monday to get their political talking points. What are these people, anyway?
The relationship between Barack Obama and his media continues to burn with the same ardor as it has from the opening days of the 2008 campaign. The latest example is private sessions the White House has held with certain favorites not for the purpose of imparting news but for advising how to spin it.
"An all-star list of progressive and liberal media folks came to the White House (Monday) to chat with President Obama over coffee in the Roosevelt Room," reported ABC's Jake Tapper — who wasn't invited.
"The group chatted with the president about economic messaging, his agenda for 2012, the various campaign arguments against different GOP candidates, the desire among some Democrats for him to highlight his foreign policy accomplishments, fighting corporate influence, and the 'crappiness' of the Senate filibuster."
- anything about this White House pow-wow.
According to Tapper, this session was all about "messaging" — how to smear the president's political opponents, both in the Congress and on the campaign trail, with a single coordinated voice to maximize the impact.
This is the stuff PR flaks do. If these participants aren't about to disclose what the White House has told them to report, why should the public believe anything they say? Such bar-lowering events are why an increasingly savvy public finds big media increasingly irrelevant.
Participants included Washington's most visible elites —
- Ezra Klein and Greg Sargent of the Washington Post,
- Frank Bruni of the New York Times,
- Ed Schultz and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC,
- Katrina vanden Heuvel and Chris Hayes of the Nation,
- Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo and
- Faiz Shakir of ThinkProgress.
This wasn't the first time Klein, for one, has done this sort of thing. Earlier this month he was caught giving briefings to congressional Democratic staff heads. And last year, he was exposed as the mastermind behind the incestuous "JournoList" listserv.
In that endeavor, handpicked policymakers, campaign operatives and Klein contacts from even supposed competitors got together to discuss their "talking points." These included plans to knowingly smear political opponents as racists
- and use the power of government to knock Fox News off the air.
Now Klein's in the middle of another coordinated spin effort that takes journalism a notch lower.
A look at the media output of the participants since the meeting reveals the threads of message coordination.
The Post's Sargent blogged that Republicans were on the ropes over the payroll-tax dilemma, ominously reporting about "the increasing isolation of the House GOP." Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo's Marshall claimed: "All the available information suggests that the current payroll tax debate is hurting Republicans badly and buoying the president."
Klein reported that business lobbyists were "panicking," while vanden Heuvel gave him a hat tip in her Washington Post column....
It may be fun for these reporters to get invited to the White House and then bounce party-line blog posts at each other and call it news. But the reading and listening public is getting stiffed, with no way of knowing what's coordinated from above and what isn't.
This kind of dishonesty can influence elections and should be seen as
- an outrage to the concept of a free press in a democracy."
12/19/11, "The White House Ego Summit," MediaBistro.com Fishbowl DC
via Weasel Zippers