Thursday, February 05, 2009

Time for the media to flex its' muscles?

Yesterday I watched Mr. Obama and Timothy Geithner give an overview of the restrictions they were placing on companies taking TARP funds. (Just so you know, in the fine print of those restrictions is a bit that says something along the lines of "we can exempt anyone if we choose"). It struck me as odd that immediately after speaking, Obama and Geithner turned on their heels and walked away without answering any media questions. I understand that sometimes they don't and usually the media is told beforehand. However, the thought flitted through my mind that Obama had pledged open access, change and all that stuff. It seemed that he was shutting out the media.

More and more stories are coming out about how Mr. Obama is using the media and / or going around the media. I predict that if he keeps it up, there is going to be a media backlash. In fact, all the news that's creeping out and then blossoming hugely (cabinet pick problems, stories on his perks in office, etc.) may be a sign of the media flexing its muscles.

Here are a couple of stories that I found interesting this morning:

(I only include this story because of the first paragraph... if you read the story, it is written by someone who is firmly in Obama's camp, best case of outright, blatant bias I've seen in a few days.)
Obama to enlist local GOP in stimulus fight
The irony of President Barack Obama’s Blue Tuesday is that the wall-to-wall television interviews he granted were designed not to apologize for Tom Daschle’s fall from grace but to fight back against the Republicans’ success in tarnishing his stimulus package.

White House Cheat Sheet: Bypassing the Media Filter
During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama and his team learned a very important lesson that they are seeking to put into practice in the White House: the power of the media is overrated.
Time and again during the campaign, Obama used his burgeoning grassroots army -- now more than 13 million email addresses strong -- to push out the message that he wanted to dominate the day rather than the message the media was focused on.

Obama poised to be first 'wired' president
(CNN) -- As the first president-elect with a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, Barack Obama is poised to use the Internet to communicate directly with Americans in a way unknown to previous presidents. Judging by Obama's savvy use of social-networking sites during his campaign and the interactive nature of his transition team's Web site, Americans can expect a president who bypasses the traditional media's filters while reaching out to citizens for input, observers say.

On one level, I like the idea of our elected officials going straight to the public, bypassing all the hype and bias of the media. However, if all we get is one side, then that's not a good thing either. What elected official is going to send out an email saying "here's how this will destroy life as you know it" or any negative points of view on their proposals (unless it's to rebut negatives)? We need opposing views.

There's another scary side to this one, too. There are a lot of people concerned about the direction this administration is heading in regards to free speech. The "Fairness Doctrine", which targets talk radio, will ostensibly shut down one large opposition view media. Does anyone really think it will stop with talk radio?

The media needs to flex fast or it's possible they won't be able to work their muscles at some point.

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