Sunday, November 2, 2008

Air Obama Access Limited

Air Obama, from User Wavy1

According to, Obama did a little bit of housekeeping aboard his campaign jet Air Obama on Thursday, revoking the seats of reporters from The New York Post, The Washington Times, and Dallas Morning News. Those papers also happened to endorse John McCain. Obama campaign won’t admit there is a connection.

In an email to The Washington Times, Obama’s communication chief Anita Dunn wrote:
"Demand for seats on the plane during this final weekend has far exceeded supply, and because of logistical issues we made the decision not to add a second plane. This means we've had to make hard and unpleasant for all concerned decisions about limiting some news organizations…"
Bill Burton, another Obama spokesman however, was a little more honest, explaining that the seats were reshuffled in an effort to reach as many swing voters as possible. Though I’m still convinced these papers lost access because of their endorsement of the enemy, Burton’s explanation reveals how the Obama campaign uses the press just like they use the campaign for news fodder.

Obama’s campaign (or anybody’s campaign, for that matter) doesn’t have to let the news media to tag along aboard their jet. While the media might fancy themselves educators of an electorate in an "election of a lifetime," they’re not reluctantly granted access to a campaign jet out of a respect for their role in democracy, but rather access is granted or rejected based on a new outlet’s ability to serve as an effective mouthpiece for the campaign. What we see here with this seat revoking business is the Obama campaign strategically adjusting the levels of his media "filter" (as conservatives like to call it) to "low risk."

In fact, come Saturday the same Politico article reports that all major news papers and foreign press (save for Agence France-Presse) are not welcome on Air Obama. Instead, only the most harmless media specimen (two documentarians and a few magazine writers) will take their place.

As the election winds down and Obama finds himself ahead, he needs nothing more from the news media and looks like he’ll discard them like a two-dollar-whore.

1 comment:

M. Dery said...

Closely argued post, as always, rich in links, with some interesting points richocheting around inside it. But the in-your-face vulgarity of your last line---that bit about the "two-dollar whore"---strikes a sour note amid the relative gentility of the rest of your post. This isn't the Gray Lady, and there's no need to put pantalettes on piano legs, here, for fear the reader will have a fit of the vapors, but your abrupt shift from crisp journalese to locker-room dudespeak is jarring.
Would have liked to have seen you add a little historical context about other presidents' policies when it comes to jettisoning reporters who write for "hostile" outlets. Would have liked to have known, too, if the papers in question---NY Post, Wash Times, Dallas Morning News---did more to earn Obama's ire, if in fact they did earn it, than merely endorse McCain. Certainly, the Post and the Times are famously conservative. Did they routinely trash the candidate? If so, is payback of this sort legitimate or not? How have other presidents-elect dealt with the temptation to settle media-inflicted scores in dishing out Air Force One seating assignments? Also, is Obama revealing himself to be Clintonian in his intention to keep the media at a distance, or Bushian in his desire to avoid The Filter altogether? Inquiring minds want to know...