Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Obama bristles as the bubble closes in"

"Journalism is the one solitary respectable profession which honors theft (when committed in the pecuniary interest of a journal,) & admires the thief...However, these same journals combat despicable crimes quite valiantly--when committed in other quarters."
--Mark Twain, 1880.

WWW--Can you blame Obama? Is it really necessary for the press to come along every time the presidential motorcade goes out on a jaunt for an ice cream cone, or when the president-elect/president wants to take his kids to a park? Is it really relevant at all, is it newsworthy? Of course not, and the press are taking umbrage at President-elect Barack Obama for suggesting otherwise.

Yes, it's more about that ugly little troll in the room (not the GOP), the Holy of Holies, "access." Sounds lewd--I know--but there it is.

Yet, they've done very little bickering over following the most powerful man in America besides Karl Rove (whose constant whereabouts never concerned them much during his unfortunate tenure-by-appointment in the White House) these last eight years: that would be Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been hiding in "undisclosed locations" more often than not.
After ordering a tuna melt on 12-grain bread, Obama approached reporters and placed his hand on the shoulder of pool reporter Philip Rucker of The Washington Post, who was scribbling away in his notebook.

“You don't really need to write all that down,” Obama said.

All presidents and would-be presidents struggle with “the bubble” – the security detail and the always-there reporters that impose barriers to any spontaneous interaction with the outside world. ("Obama bristles as the bubble closes in,", 12.28.2008)

Right, this is the most important thing in the world, getting down exactly what the president-elect ordered at a Chicago deli, that's wonderful and a great example of cutting-edge journalism. But what do you expect from a publication that did its best to protect George W. Bush and his administration as much as it humanly could for "access"?

"Press gaggle" has a derisive ring to it that's inevitably earned, and there are valid reasons (like the above and aforementioned) why the public invariably hates the press and journalists. This is because they're human, vulnerable to pressure from established power (making most of them traditional appendages of someone else's agenda), and because they tend to get their facts wrong, often knowingly.

A wonderful local example should do: A past acquaintance of mine was sleeping in the basement of his parent's home when a fire started, trapping him for a time, but he managed to escape the flames. Somehow, his dog also escaped on its own. Eventually, the fire trucks and the press belatedly arrived--the firemen extinguishing the blaze, while creatively took their notes. The next day we all sat reading the story that contended he had "run into the house to heroically rescue the family dog."

The problem? Nothing of the sort ever happened--not ever--and he hadn't even mentioned anything resembling the newspaper account to the journalist. He got out of the house and the dog was found wandering around by a fireman (they tend frequently to smoke pot and like hookers, just an FYI). The journalist and their editors just thought a rescue would read as more interesting, giving those blessed column inches that added "human element", ostensibly to sell more papers with ad-space. I could go on and on. When you cry wolf too often, people stop listening and reading, which they're doing-in-droves with the newspapers. Very soon, they will be gone and they won't be missed.

This harping over President-elect Obama wanting his own personal space implies that this desire somehow has sinister implications to it, which is a pretty silly reaction to someone asking logical questions--watch him when it counts. If only the same attention had been paid to the Bush II administration, although it's not as though Congress or the Courts were going to do anything, we already know this. No, get close to "inside sources," cultivate them, and act like we actually have a "Fourth Estate," a myth of that peculiar religion of journalism that worships falsehood with enough of a smidgen-of-truth so that they can sleep better at night. Adversarialism with the political class? Get real.

Look: monitor any given president's activities on the Hill, in the Oval office, in his choice of appointments, in the legality of his policies and his behaviors, but don't tell me he had a tuna sandwich on 12-grain bread. Nobody but the senile or the emotionally retarded care about that particular piece-of-information.

You can take your "access" and shove it. Journalism should never have become a profession, and today, it's a joke on the rest of us.

"Obama bristles as the bubble closes in,", 12.28.2008: