The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Yesterday, I briefly discussed the PR scheme that the Obama administration (and to a significantly lesser extent, earlier administrations) uses to combat good reporting on its many scandals, its foreign policy failures, and on its domestic programs. The scheme is called "controversializing." Sharyl Attkisson discusses it at length in her seminal book, Stonewalled, a study of the media in the age of Obama.

Attkisson, a journalistic hero who I have mentioned many times in this blog (e.g., here), describes the scheme in her book:
... the Obama administration has aggressively employed the addition PR strategy: controversializing potentially damaging stories, reporters, and opponents to undermine them. It can be a highly effective tactic, unless the public learns to recognize it. Just how does one take a fact-based, solid story and turn it into a controversy to therefore be questioned by an unsuspecting public? By putting into motion a well-oiled machine that launches complaint calls and emails [to media executives and editors], comments to other reporters (often not for attribution); bloggers who circulate manufactured outrage and counter spin; and personal attacks against the journalist. Pretty soon, the administration has controversialized an entire line of reporting. Not because it is controversial, but because their machine has made it appear to be ...

Journalist Michael Hastings once discussed this phenomenom. Hastings had authored the award-winning Rolling Stone profile of General Stanley McCrystal [who was very critical of Barack Obama] that led to McCrystal's resignation. [Hastings] spoke of the "insidious response ... when you piss off the powerful. They come after your career; they try to come after your credibility. They do cocktail party whisper campaigns. They try to make you 'controversial.' Sadly, the Powers that Be are often aided by other journalists."
And there's the rub. Obama's trained hamsters in the media act as an extention of his PR efforts. They work with this administration to controversialize any fact-based story the reflects badly on this president or his people. That's why Fast and Furious is "old news." That's why Benghazi and the IRS scandals are "phony" or "politically motivated" or nothing but the imaginings of conspiracy theorists. That's why news reports about the administration's unprecedented attacks on the Associated Press were quickly silenced. And now, that's why the Israeli election is "controversial" and why Bibi Netanyahu is being characterized as an enemy of Obama, and by extension, bad for America.

In July of 2014, the Society of Profession Journalists, whose members include luminaries from progressive media like the NYT, the LAT, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and many, many others wrote an open letter to this president objecting to "politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies." Later they noted that the problem has gotten worse and that  "We consider these restrictions a form of censorship."

The irony is that many of their colleagues are only to happy to aid and abet the censorship.