wife media syndrome returned to the spotlight this week when 38 journalism groups, led by the Society of Professional Journalists, complained to the Obama White House about numerous offenses that were summed up as the “politically-driven suppression of news.”
[A]s a result, they wrote, Obama only has himself to blame for the current cynicism of his administration. “You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in,” wrote David Cuillier, president of SPJ.
The administration has dismissed similar charges from other journalism groups, notably the White House Correspondents’ Association, but the new letter sent Tuesday provided several examples of censorship and efforts to block reporter access. Among them:
• Officials blocking reporters’ requests to talk to specific staff people.
• Excessive delays in answering interview requests that stretch past reporters’ deadlines.
• Officials conveying information “on background” — refusing to give reporters what should be public information unless they agree not to say who is speaking.
• Federal agencies blackballing reporters who write critically of them.
This isn’t the first time the media have begged Obama to stop beating them. In the past the White House Correspondents Association has aired similar complaints about access and the like. Moreover, Obama’s Justice Department has been caught spying on journalists and news outlets, like the Associated Press.
The reason nothing gets better despite all the media complaints — that are no doubt legitimate — is due to the fact that Obama knows from experience that no matter how much he beats the media, they will never stop loving and protecting him.
The media still have the power to change the behavior of a president and his Administration. Instead of sending sternly-worded memos like this, though, they need only make the White House pay a political price for its behavior.
Read those bullet points again. Those aren’t just complaints, those are also stories — legitimate news stories embarrassing to any White House. But rather than teach the Administration a lesson by making a national issue out of a White House deceiving and punishing the national media, instead Obama receives a letter begging him to please, please, please treat them better.
Why should Obama change his behavior if the only price he has to pay is a letter full of needy whining?
In the meantime, the media go right on keeping Obama’s journalistic sins out of the spotlight and protecting him from legitimate scandals like the IRS, Benghazi, and the rest.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC