In response to Politico’s “Puppet Master” take on Obama and his stiff-arming of the White House press corps, former White House reporter Matthew Cooper penned a piece for The Atlantic titled “Is Obama Too Mean to the Media, or Are Reporters Just Whiny? It’s mostly the latter.”
Cooper quoted from the Politico piece, that “Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.” He asked: “Is this an affront to the First Amendment or whining? I lean towards the latter.” But wait, there's more:
"Each administration takes greater liberties to spin the news than the one before which is utterly unsurprising," Cooper claimed. "State and local governments do the same. So do corporations. The real question is what's lost in the process. Some but not much, I'd say.”
Cooper mocked the demand for a Tiger Woods-and-Obama golf photo: “Get rolled on Tiger Woods and pretty soon there are fewer interviews and what not. Stomp your feet over something modest before it gets out of hand. I get it. As for the other complaints, hey, grow up.”
Why would Cooper be so harsh? After all, he's still smarting from being asked to cooperate in the trumped-up Valerie Plame leak prosecution in the Bush years, when he was one of those demanding White House reporters. Well, Cooper admitted that he worked at Time for seven years with Jay Carney, now Obama’s press secretary. He got married in 1997 to Mandy Grunwald, one of the original Bill Clinton bimbo-crushers, so press manipulation isn’t frowned upon at his house.
This came right after the “grow up” part:
One of the beefs with the White House is that they're producing lots of content for media outlets -- especially photos that can be run in newspapers. As my former colleague Brooks Kraft, a Time photographer, notes, "White House handout photos used to be reserved for historically important events -- 9/11, or deliberations about war," Kraft said, allowing "I don't blame the White House for doing it, because networks and newspapers use them. So the White House has built its own content " But for Politico to cite this as master manipulation seems overwrought. If the press corps doesn't spring for an AP photo, that's not the White House's fault.
Cooper's ignoring that the "geniuses" inside the White House have also manipulated the AP photographers!
The Politico thesis that Team Obama are master manipulators doesn't come across as a complaint, but more as hurts-so-good praise for White House competence. It is merely another method of obsequious praise. If reporters were truly angry, then Obama's questioning would be tougher, and the tone of reporting would be ...more like the trapped-in-Hell tone of the Bush years.
It echoes 1992, when political reporters similarly praised Bill Clinton for his mastery of then-new media forms, like going on CNN's Larry King Live for an hour (before FNC and MSNBC were founded).