As the 2012 presidential campaign kicks into gear, President Obama’s White House media operation is demonstrating an unprecedented ability to broadcast its message through social media and the Internet, at times doing an end-run around the traditional press.[…] But while these innovative communications tools ostensibly offer greater transparency and openness, critics say they have come at a troublesome expense: less accountability of the administration by the independent, mainstream press.Over the past few months, as White House cameras have been granted free reign behind the scenes, officials have blocked broadcast news outlets from events traditionally open to coverage and limited opportunities to publicly question the president himself.Obama’s recent signing of the historic New START treaty with Russia and his post-State of the Union cabinet meeting, for example, were both closed to reporters in a break with tradition. And during a recent question and answer session with the president and visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the White House imposed an unusual limit of just one question each from the U.S. and Canadian press corps.
It seems President Obama is throwing all sorts of PR Hail Mary passes into the media. As if it wasn’t friendly enough to him already…
Some people might miss the weight of this decision or think I’m blowing it out of proportion. Well, it seems David Perlmutter, the director of the Iowa J-school, and I are least on the same page:
“If Nixon had announced he was going to start the ‘Nixon channel’ and said they were only going to put up stuff he approved of, people would have said, ‘Oh my God, this is like Communist Russian state media,'” said David Perlmutter, director of the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication.“But now social media have a friendly face on them, so these media tools are not seen by the public — particularly younger Americans — as some sort of power grab by the president or government,” he said. “They’re just modern ways of reaching out and communicating.”Perlmutter says what he calls “state run media 2.0” might be just what younger generations, who polls show are disillusioned with the mainstream press, are looking for. And, he said, satisfying their “need to feel connected” could give Obama the edge among tech-savvy voters heading into the next campaign.
People my age want to like Obama. They want to have fluffy feel-good stories “behind the scenes” showing him looking decisive and cool, claiming that he is trying to make the world better. And maybe he is a nice guy in person, I don’t really care. I care about my life and the decisions I can make, many of which are influenced by the power the president wields. The fact of the matter is, the fewer substantive stories that reflect President Obama’s (destructive) policies, the bleaker my hope is for replacing him in 2012.
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