Apparently, the Washington DC press corps is peeved at the Obama White House because Press Secretary Gibbs is stonewalling them. They thus equate Gibbs to Fleischer/Perino/McClellan and equate Obama to Bush.
But they are myopic and wrong. And Jay Rosen explains why.
Bush dissed the press by suppressing information. Obama disses the press by giving information directly to the people (just you wait, these are early days, but they are preparing for some serious two-way communication between the WH and the people).
From press’ point of view – both are dissing them. From the point of view of democracy, its 180 degrees apart – what is important is if the information is available to the people, not the method (and filters) via which it does.
Rove stonewalled the press in order to manipulate the message himself. Obama stonewalls the press in order to prevent the press from manipulating the message through High Broderism.
If being blocked and being by-passed feels the same to the Washington press corpa, this means they are not aware or interested in availability of information, but only in their exclusive rights to get it and process it. They think they are supposed to be the gatekeepers and High Priests and hate seeing their authority destroyed and ridiculed. Which explains why they hate bloggers – it’s jealousy: this President uses bloggy channels instead of going through them.
But this is good. Instead of going through two filters (WH+Press), information goes through only one (WH). Twice as much chance we’ll get correct information.
Every White House will carefully manage the information coming out. Bush WH managed it by not letting any information out at all, unless they wanted something “leaked”. The Press Secretaries’ job was to provide slogan of the day, and the press dutifully copied the slogans into next mornings’ papers. Interesting how they are always good scribes for Republican Presidents, while looking for Monika’s with all their might when it’s a Democrat in the WH. Yup, “liberal press”…and I am the Pope.
Obama WH will also manage information, but their credo is transparency. But you can’t have full transparency if the message is distorted by the inane, gotcha, cocktail-circuit Washington press. You can’t have transparency if the press is out to get you because their God is Broder. Just because they sip champagne with Republicans does not mean that the country is really center-right as the DC bubble believes, but they have no intention to take a hike through the countryside and mix up with the proles, so they will never learn.
In order to achieve transparency, Obama WH must disable the filters imposed by the press, as those filters distort the information. Thus, Gibbs’ job is to make sure that information bypasses the press, so it can freely flow to the people. His job is to keep the press occupied in the Press Room, diverted and distracted for long hours every day, while the information is going out to the people unhindered, via modern and filter-free channels.
I wish someone with Photoshop skills would draw this.
Panel #1: WH with wagons circled around it, each wagon with a face of Bush, Cheney, Rove, McLellan, Perino and Fleischer. An arrow (or 2-3 arrows) named “information” comes out of WH and bounces off a wagon right back in, nothing escapes. The press is depicted as a piece of paper and a feather-pen (or old mechanical typewriter) with a picture of Broder who is visibly dismayed.
Panel #2: WH with just one wagon depicting Gibbs. Broder press still dismayed. Smiling Obama sends arrows (“information”) from the WH straight to the cheering people (perhaps sitting at their computers, or checking Twitter on their iPhones).