|Richard Nixon left the White House in disgrace 40 years ago this month, but the war he launched against journalists has continued under Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and other recent presidents.
Nixon’s resignation is remembered as a great victory for the media. Investigations by Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and other reporters helped expose the White House crime spree that caused the president’s downfall. Even though he lost his battle to remain in power, Nixon’s way of handling the press has prevailed in American politics. Intimidating journalists, avoiding White House reporters, staging events for television—now common presidential practices—were all originally Nixonian tactics. […]
John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, and other previous presidents had wooed reporters, but Nixon made media manipulation a central focus of his administration. For his chief of staff, he picked H.R. “Bob” Haldeman, a former advertising agency executive. To shape the president’s public image, Nixon and Haldeman created the first White House communications office. It made sure Nixon avoided spontaneous encounters with reporters when he might look or sound awkward. Instead, Nixon’s staff arranged carefully orchestrated appearances in front of friendly crowds. This approach is now commonplace, but at the time it was a drastic change from presidents such as Harry Truman who regularly chatted with reporters.
Large communications offices have since become White House staples. Ronald Reagan’s communications team was especially adept at creating TV scenes of the president surrounded by American flags while shielding him from reporters’ questions. But the Obama White House has used new media to take image control to new levels. It sends a stream of tweets, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos directly to the public while bypassing journalists. Last year, in a separate letter, 38 news organizations complained to Obama’s press secretary that photojournalists are often barred from public events. They said the White House prevented photographers from covering presidential meetings with congressmen and Middle East peace negotiators but then released its own photos of these events using social media.
Obama also avoids interviews with White House reporters, preferring appearances on The View and late-night talk shows where easier questions are asked. Nixon first used this tactic, favoring interviews with reporters from small media markets who were more likely to be dazzled by the chance to interview a president and tended to ask easier questions than the Washington press corps. […]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Lind at TPM Cafe: Dems Must Abandon Social Liberalism:
|The grown-ups over at TPM Cafe are taking Democrats to woodshed for supporting silly notions like equal rights for gays, abortion rights for women, affirmative action, etc. In other words, Dems must become moderate Republicans if we want to win elections in America.
The United States has a right-of-center majority with respect to social issues and a a left-of-center majority with respect to economic issues. The stability of this popular consensus recently has been illustrated by the nearly simultaneous popular rejection of gay marriage and Social Security privatization. Social liberals are too far to the left of most Americans on social issues; economic conservatives are too far to the right of most Americans on economic issues.
This combination of moderate social conservatism with moderate economic liberalism explains the success of the New Deal Democrats and the failure of the party that succeeded them, the Civil Rights Democrats."
Lind doesn't mention the Iraq War, but presumably "grown-up" Democrats would stay the course and provide de facto support for the president.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, technical difficulties galore! But the podcast is here & ready to go. Greg Dworkin got us back on track with his round-up. Economic performance, explained. The Benghazi bust. GOP base gears up to ruin 2016 for their party. Several "one thing(s) you need to read" about ebola. And one we shouldn't have to. For the 40th anniversary of Nixon's resignation, Bob Woodward reviews John Dean's book. From the tech world: your USB devices might be Transformer hackers or something. Crazy southwestern idiots use the border crisis as an excuse to try to shoot actual people. But they're so crazy, they seem to end up shooting their families, instead.