The [Tuesday] Papers
Two for Tuesday. Times three.
1. "The areas with the most possible school closures are almost a 1:1 match against communities with the most distressed real estate," WBEZ reports.
That sentence is packed with so much meaning it should be the subject of an entire presidential campaign to the exclusion of anything else.
2. "President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House," Politico reports.
"The president has shut down interviews with many of the White House reporters who know the most and ask the toughest questions. Instead, he spends way more time talking directly to voters via friendly shows and media personalities. Why bother with The New York Times beat reporter when Obama can go on The View?"
Enabling Obama didn't make him more accessible, it just emboldened him further.
And to those who helped craft a strategy of evasion and duplicity? Seemingly boundless rewards.
"Obama boasted Thursday during a Google+ Hangout from the White House: 'This is the most transparent administration in history.' The people who cover him day to day see it very differently.
"The way the president's availability to the press has shrunk in the last two years is a disgrace," said ABC News White House reporter Ann Compton, who has covered every president back to Gerald R. Ford. "The president's day-to-day policy development - on immigration, on guns - is almost totally opaque to the reporters trying to do a responsible job of covering it. There are no readouts from big meetings he has with people from the outside, and many of them aren't even on his schedule. This is different from every president I covered. This White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away."
Among the White House's media strategies:
There's the classic weekend document dump to avoid negative coverage. By our count, the White House has done this nearly two dozen times, and almost always to minimize attention to embarrassing or messy facts. "What you guys call a document dump, we call transparency," the White House's Earnest shot back. If that's the case, the White House was exceptionally transparent during the Solyndra controversy, releasing details three times on a Friday.
The president has not granted an interview to print reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, POLITICO and others in years. These are the reporters who are often most likely to ask tough, unpredictable questions.
At least he's fulfilled his promise of Change:
Martha Joynt Kumar, a political scientist at Towson University who works out of the White House press room and tallies every question a journalist asks the president, has found that in his first term Obama held brief press availabilities after photos ops or announcements one-third as often as George W. Bush did in his first term - 107 to Bush's 355.
But he treats us like adults!
[T]his administration - like its predecessors - does some good old-fashioned bullying of reporters: making clear there will be no interviews, or even questions at press conferences, if aides are displeased with their coverage.
"Both use slippery legal language to parse dark government programs. Both have been deliberately hidden from public and even congressional oversight. And both involve the blurring of C.I.A. and military operations, and even include some of the same personnel. John Brennan, Obama's nominee to direct the C.I.A., is a long-time veteran of the agency who, prior to joining the Obama Administration, served as chief of staff for former C.I.A. director George Tenet, under the Bush Administration during the depths of the torture scandal. Despite this, several human-rights experts have endorsed Brennan's promotion, and Obama seems to respect him deeply. Whether that trust is well-placed remains to be seen; Brennan's refusal, during his Senate confirmation hearings last week, to admit that waterboarding - the partial drowning of a prisoner - is a form of torture was a chilling display of institutional loyalty."
4. The Political Odds have been slightly updated to reflect last night's television appearance by Robin Kelly, Anthony Beale and Debbie Halvorson.
Peewees, pros and the public.
The Reverend Horton Heat vs. Joe Walsh vs. Fredo Santana.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Modestly rocking.
Posted on February 19, 2013
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