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Has The Media Finally Awakened?


I keep thinking/hoping, eventually journalists are going to wake up.

I’ve spent 30 years in the business, always cynical about its mission (the business is supposed to attract cynics,) and waiting and wondering if good sense and logic will finally win out over the obvious politics.

A ray of hope.

Veteran journalists (many now retired) are starting to speak out about what they are seeing with todays “journalists.”

“If you watch an Obama news conference, and watched a Bush news conference previous to that, where correspondents sit in their seats with their hands folded on their laps, [it’s] as if they are in the room with a monarch and they have to wait to be recognized by the president,” says Sid Davis, the former NBC Washington bureau chief who covered nine presidents. “It looks like they are watching a funeral service at [Washington funeral firm] Joseph Gawler’s and it shouldn’t be that way.”

Gawler draws no distinction between Obama and Bush as far as news conferences go, but we’ll leave that one alone for now. At least Bush held news conferences. JFK held one every 16.4 days, and I’m talking about the wide open, “anything goes” news conferences where any question can be asked, not the quickies where 2 people are hand-picked for their ability to fire fluff balls. “Excuse me, you, in the back, from Better Homes and Leftist Gardens.”

Obama has played 10 times as many rounds of golf as he has held news conferences–so don’t say this job is just too tough and he’s too busy.

Even with an adoring media, Obama has struggled at the news conferences he has held. Remember the July 2009 news conference (intended to highlight Obamacare) and Dear Leader was asked about the Cambridge Police incident involving his buddy, Henry Louis Gates. Obama stepped in it by saying the police “acted stupidly” and the Beer Summit was born.

Maybe that’s why Obama news conferences are virtually non-existent. Get this guy off prompter, and you’ve got trouble. He doesn’t even need tough questions being asked.

Back to the media, longtime NBC and ABC reporter Sander Vanocur: “You want to know what’s wrong with the press? The press is what’s wrong with the press.”

The thoughts were pretty much universal at a group of former media folk who met to discuss the 50th anniversary of the first live TV news conference held by JFK in 1961.

Davis added: “I don’t like today’s news conferences” with the president. Kennedy’s, he says, were “thoroughly unrehearsed, natural and they worked to a large extent.” Today’s versions, he adds, “look like they are rehearsed.”

Breaking news here, Sid, they are rehearsed, or they might as well be.

The media are afraid of being shut out. This “transparent” president may smile and look cordial when photographers are around, but in reality he’s more intimidating than Dale Earnhardt was in the rear view mirror. Ask the Boston Herald. You don’t comply, you are shut out.

The media as a group need to stand together or they will fall apart alone. I’ve been in media situations where I’ve been wrongly denied access to a news conference and had others stand with me and walk out. In the end the subject of the interview acquiesced and everybody got what they wanted and the message was sent. It didn’t happen again and apologies were even made by the subject.

It’s important to remember these are former media people speaking out. It’s easy to assume this same current media crop will have an epiphany once they are retired and see how docile they were in covering this White House.

More breaking news to the current crop of White House stenographers, it doesn’t count then. Unless you talk truth to power while they are in power, don’t waste your time.

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