Shocker: 'Barack Obama and the Press Break Up'

As NewsBusters has been reporting for a number of weeks, more and more media members seem to be losing that loving feeling for presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama.

A rather stunning example came Thursday from Gabriel Sherman of The New Republic who suggested the Obama campaign's arrogance towards journalists has gone so far "that reporters [may] be emboldened to challenge his campaign ever more aggressively."

His article, "End of the Affair: Barack Obama and the Press Break Up," boldly addressed strongarming of media members by the junior senator's campaign, and how it's beginning to backfire (emphasis added throughout, photo courtesy TNR):

Around midnight on July 16, New York Times chief political correspondent Adam Nagourney received a terse e-mail from Barack Obama's press office. The campaign was irked by the Times' latest poll and Nagourney and Megan Thee's accompanying front-page piece titled "Poll Finds Obama Isn't Closing Divide on Race," which was running in the morning's paper. Nagourney answered the query, the substance of which he says was minor, and went to bed, thinking the matter resolved.

But, the next morning, Nagourney awoke to an e-mail from Talking Points Memo writer Greg Sargent asking him to comment on an eight-point rebuttal trashing his piece that the Obama campaign had released to reporters and bloggers like The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder and Politico's Ben Smith. Nagourney had not heard the complaints from the Obama camp and had no idea they were so steamed. "I'm looking at this thing, and I'm like, 'What the hell is this?' " Nagourney recently recalled. "I really flipped out."

Later that afternoon, Nagourney got permission from Times editors to e-mail Sargent a response to the Obama memo. But the episode still grates. "I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others," Nagourney tells me. "I thought they crossed the line. If you have a problem with a story I write, call me first. I'm a big boy. I can handle it. But they never called. They attacked me like I'm a political opponent."

So much for "Obama Love."... Reporters are grumbling more and more that the campaign is acting like the Prom Queen. They gripe that it is "arrogant" and "control[ling]," and the campaign's own belief that Obama is poised to make history isn't endearing, either. The press certainly helped Obama get so far so fast; the question is, how far can he get if his campaign alienates them?

Yikes. But there's more, as Sherman crescendoed to an ominous conclusion:

As tensions escalate, the risk to Obama, of course, is that reporters will be emboldened to challenge his campaign ever more aggressively. At the same time, McCain has demonstrated a longstanding ability to deftly manage the press. After all, it wasn't long ago that McCain, short on cash and trailing in the Republican primaries, re-launched his campaign in New Hampshire by courting the press, "my base," as he once proudly put it. In June, the McCain camp unveiled its redesigned campaign plane, a Boeing 737 that recreates the Straight Talk Express bus, so reporters can assemble with McCain and shoot the breeze.

Now, Obama may be handing McCain a shot at winning back his "base." Of course, making ads that paint the media as Obama's stooges may not be the best way to accomplish that. But the press wants to put its love somewhere, and, right now, that love is up for grabs.

If Sherman is right, and media actually begin challenging the Obama campaign on its missteps, flip-flops, and policy vagueries, voters might actually see what lies beneath the veneer the media have helped install over the plywood.

Wouldn't that be a shame?

Read the whole thing.

Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential
Noel Sheppard's picture