ABC has a piece today
that offers some concern from professors of journalism that the Obama White House has gone further than any administration in memory toward creating a kind of state run media:
The White House Press Office now not only produces a website, blog, YouTube channel, Flickr photo stream, and Facebook and Twitter profiles, but also a mix of daily video programming, including live coverage of the president's appearances and news-like shows that highlight his accomplishments...
Over the past few months, as White House cameras have been granted free reign behind the scenes, officials have blocked broadcast news outlets from events traditionally open to coverage and limited opportunities to publicly question the president himself.
In essence the White House is creating pool reports with itself as the pool reporter.
"The administration has narrowed access by the mainstream media to an unprecedented extent," said ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton, who has covered seven administrations. "Access here has shriveled."
ABC notes that the scope of the White House press operation rivals traditional broadcast networks in some areas:
The White House has amassed 1.9 million followers on Twitter, 900,000 fans on Facebook and averages 250,000 visits to its YouTube channel per month. Its website received roughly 1.1 million unique visitors in January, according to ComScore.
By contrast, ABC News has 1.2 million followers on Twitter, 150,000 fans on Facebook, and averages 21.7 million unique visitors per month to ABCNews.com, according to ComScore.
Click over to read the full article
and you'll get to the part where journalist professor David Perlmutter compares the White House operation to Communist Russian state media.
It's a good piece but it's missing some critical context. Specifically, ABC should have recalled this 2009 interview with former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn in which she explains the strategy behind this method of operation:
One of the reasons we did so many of the David Plouffe videos was not just for our supporters, but also because it was a way for us to get out message out without actually having to talk to reporters. We just put that out there and make them write what Plouffe had said as opposed to Plouffe doing an interview with a reporter. So it was very much we controlled it as opposed to the press controlled it. And it did not always make us popular with the press but we increasingly by the general election, very rarely did we communicate to the press anything that we didn't absolutely control.
In other words, "state run media 2.0" (to use Perlmutter's term) has been the considered strategy of Obama's team since before his election because it allows them not to bypass the press but to control it. But I don't recall them being too upset about that back in 2008, do you?