An article in Monday’s U.S. News & World Report by Ken Walsh, a veteran journalist who covered five presidencies, notes a growing “unhealthy antagonism … between the West Wing and the mainstream media.” If the assessment is accurate, it could mean that the press, after four years of mindless obeisance to this administration, is finally ready to provide frank coverage, warts and all.
The sea change, if one is in the cards, started with the now-infamous brouhaha involving another old hand, Bob Woodward, and White House economic adviser Gene Sperling. Since Woodward publicly asserted that he was threatened by the administration, a number of White House correspondents have come forward to affirm that the press has long been expected to show deference and go with the administration-provided narrative or keep quiet.
The New York Post quotes David Brody, chief political correspondent for CBN News, as saying:
The whole Woodward thing doesn’t surprise me at all. I can tell you categorically that there’s always been, right from the get-go of this administration, an overzealous sensitivity to any push-back from any media outlet.
Another reporter who maintains that Team Obama is unwilling to countenance criticism from the media is Jonathan Alter. “There is a kind of threatening tone that, from time to time — not all the time — comes out of these guys,” Alter said this week.
But according to a purely anecdotal claim by an unnamed DC veteran, sometimes the tone from the White House transcends the level of mere threat, devolving into ugly name calling:
I had a young reporter asking tough, important questions of an Obama Cabinet secretary. She was doing her job, and they were trying to bully her. In an e-mail, they called her the vilest names — b**ch, c**t, a**hole.
The validity of the story aside, an indisputable truth is that the press has been guilty since before the 2008 election of running interference for this president. And the American people are wise to it. A Gallup poll conducted last September found that the number of respondents who said they trust the news media had reached an all-time low.
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