Sunday, April 04, 2010

Truest statement of the week II

Those oozing conflicts lead to things like this -- a glowing New Yorker profile of Rahm Emanuel so sycophantic it made the skin crawl -- followed up by an even more one-sided love letter to Larry Summers, both from the eager, wanna-be White House stenographer/author Ryan Lizza. It's what causes Newsweek's Jonathan Alter to proclaim one day (when Obama favored it) that real health care reform "depends on whether Obama gets approval for a 'public option'," only to turn around less than two months later (once Obama said it was unnecessary) and proclaim that the Left is foolishly obsessing on the un-important public option. Eagerness to serve the White House: it's also what leads the desperate-for-book-access Alter to publicly insist that criticisms of Commander-in-Chief Obama help The Terrorists. And it's what leads Chuck Todd on a daily basis, in the form of "covering the White House" for NBC, to serve as an amplifying vessel and justifier for whatever the White House happens to be saying at any given moment, from Todd's arguments against investigations of Bush officials to his disparaging of the public option.

The conflicts in having "journalists" report on the administration while simultaneously begging top White House officials for highly lucrative book-access are as self-evident as they are corrupting. Richard Wolffe covered the Obama campaign for Newsweek at the same time he was writing an access-dependent book on Obama; when he left Newsweek, even Newsweek staffers complained about the prospect that he had used magazine funds to cover the campaign while withholding key stories from the magazine so he could use it in his book instead (the same controversy that has plagued Bob Woodward in the writing of his Bush-glorifying books while also working for the Post). And that's to say nothing about Wolffe's overwhelming incentive to write favorable fluff pieces about Obama for Newsweek so that his desperately needed book access would continue to be granted. Once he left Newsweek, Wolffe not only cashed in on his access with his glowing hagiography about Obama, but also by joining a "corporate communications" firm (run by former Bush aide Dan Bartlett) where his White House access undoubtedly was highly valued. The success of his Obama-revering book has now enabled Wolffe to leave his communications job in order to write a second "behind-the-scenes", access-dependent book about Obama.

-- Glenn Greenwald, "White House access is a jackpot for reporters" (Salon).

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