First it was radio. Then it was TV. Now, finally, the Obama campaign has completed the media-suppression trifecta by cracking down on unsympathetic newspapers.
In a report first broken by Drudge, it appears three newspapers have been booted from the Obama campaign plane: the Washington Times, the New York Post, and the Dallas Morning News. As it happens, all three are papers that had the nerve to endorse John McCain for president.
The campaign says it needed to make room on the plane for “network bigwigs” and reporters from the black magazines Essence and Jet, all of whom are naturally more interested in seeing a President Obama sworn in. The Washington Times feels especially aggrieved by the decision, since they have been with the campaign since Day One:
“We’ve been traveling since 2007 with him. … We’re a relevant newspaper — every day we break news,” Solomon said. “And to suddenly be kicked off the plane for people who haven’t covered it as aggressively or thoroughly as we are … it sort of feels unfair.”
He said the newspaper protested but was turned down again by the campaign.
“I can only hope that the candidate who describes himself as wanting to unite the nation doesn’t have some sort of litmus test for who he decides gets to cover the campaign,” Solomon said, noting that the Obama campaign’s decision came just two days after the paper endorsed McCain.
(Emphasis mine.) Thus falls the latest blow in the saga of what I’ve called Battered Media Syndrome. After swamping a radio show with shrill and hostile nuisance-calls to penalize it for hosting an Obama skeptic, then barring not one but two TV stations who had the temerity to ask Joe Biden uncomfortable questions, the campaign has now denied access to reporters from print newspapers who decline to pledge allegiance to The One.
Will their colleagues who still have their access shake off their Battered Media Syndrome and stand up for their fellow journalists? Or will each of them simply keep telling himself or herself “well, at least I know he still loves me” until their own next misstep gets them jettisoned as well?
If Obama is elected, I can’t wait to see what the evolution of the White House press corps makeup looks like.
UPDATE: I’m getting emails calling to my attention how John McCain kicked Maureen Dowd and Joe Klein, both frequent McCain critics, off his plane, and that I should condemn that too, shouldn’t I?
Well, no. Dowd and Klein are opinion journalists, not reporters. When they lost their seats, the New York Times and Newsweek still had reporters aboard; the publications themselves were not barred as the WaTimes, NYPost, and DMNews were from Obama’s plane. Indeed, some time back a NYPost columnist was booted from the Obama plane for a less-than-flattering column he wrote about the candidate, and I didn’t say anything, because the Post still had a presence on the plane (their reporters), and frankly Obama isn’t obliged to give a seat to a guy with a history of slamming him.
There is no excuse, however, for ditching the entire press crew of a publication for their editorial board’s position, especially reporters; doubly especially in the last week before the election when such coverage is crucial.