Barack Obama is a contradictory marvel of twisted politics and illusion.
Blowing into office chanting of transparency and openness, Obama now five years later could put Dick Nixon to shame — a new report on press freedom and the White House reveals a real-opaque reality to actual life, an administration disdainful of journalists: “This is the most closed, control freak administration I’ve ever covered,” said David E. Sanger, veteran chief Washington correspondent of The New York Times.
Journalism in practice doesn’t mean good news reporting — the lucid fright found here is the presentation of a George-Orwellian caricature of an open society.
(Illustration found here).
The report (found at the link above) — conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists, and written primarily by Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post — is long, detailed, and well worth a full read. A lot of the White House bullshit included in the report I’ve read before via various blogs, but apparently politics has so warped the image of transparency via high-tech smoke and mirrors, it’s little wonder nobody trusts DC assholes at all.
Obama so wants to keep a handle on the narrative, common folk will never know the real West Wing — speaking of which, check out, “West Wing Week,” short video clips posted on the White House website. ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton: “It’s five minutes of their own video and sound from events the press didn’t even know about.”
Online seemingly comes the pitched message of the Obama administration.
The CPJ report backgrounds all this shit, starting with Sept. 11, 2001, and coming forward with George Jr.’s version of the presidency and onto to Obama, who called for hope and change in 2008 to challenge the “excessive secrecy” of the Bush years.
Obama has gone beyond even George Jr. in stopping those pesky leaks — nailing them with the 1917 Espionage Act, starting in 2010 all the way up to Ed Snowden this year, including the Chelsea Manning case (he was Brad at the time), in an effort to gut news coverage. There’s plenty of information in the report, but this most-likely the key to the pursuit of everyday affairs for reporters covering the White House:
The government websites turned out to be part of a strategy, honed during Obama’s presidential campaign, to use the Internet to dispense to the public large amounts of favorable information and images generated by his administration, while limiting its exposure to probing by the press.
Veteran political journalists Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen described the administration’s message machine this way on the news website Politico:
“One authentically new technique pioneered by the Obama White House is government creation of content—photos of the president, videos of White House officials, blog posts written by Obama aides—which can then be instantly released to the masses through social media.
And they are obsessed with taking advantage of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and every other social media forum, not just for campaigning, but governing.
They are more disciplined about cracking down on staff that leak, or reporters who write things they don’t like.”
A senior White House official told me, “There are new means available to us because of changes in the media, and we’d be guilty of malpractice if we didn’t use them.”
The official said that, for example, the White House often communicated brief news announcements on Twitter to the more than 4 million followers of @whitehouse.
“Some of you have said that I’m ignoring the Washington press corps—that we’re too controlling,” Obama jokingly told assembled journalists at the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington in March.
“Well, you know what? You were right. I was wrong, and I want to apologize in a video you can watch exclusively at whitehouse.gov,” one of the administration’s websites.
Funny, funny and creepy ironic.
And up to speed, how’s the famous review panel rolled out by Obama to fact-check the NSA? — the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. Well, the current government shutdown, shut it down, with Review Group member Michael Morell (also former director of the CIA) blubbered piously that there’s so many other intelligence employees on furlough, the group’s work was near meaningless: “How could this be more important than kids starting cancer trials at NIH?” Morell asked.
Just another bit of creepy.
Although nearly 15 percent of its work force is on furlough, the intelligence agencies still operate. And this note from the Washington Post: So while it appears that the NSA will remain largely functional during the shutdown, the inquiry into the agency’s spying activities will not.
The problem with Obama’s closed-vested strategy is the Internet — as long as the online world is still fairly easy to transverse, leaks will spill, making it harder to regulate to any extent, and if forced into a corner, Obama will throw the 1917 law right in your face.
George Carlin enlivened American politics: People are fucking nuts. This country is full of nitwits and assholes. You ever notice that? Nitwits, assholes, fuckups, scumbags, jerkoffs, and dipshits. And they all vote. In fact, sometimes you get the impression that they’re the only ones who vote.
And it’s Friday!
Overcast and chilly this morning here on California’s north coast, and a way-good feeling about today and the upcoming weekend — maybe if that satellite tracking beam will only leave my ass alone, I’d feel much better.