Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Media, access and spin

Coverage of Barack Obama's Iraq trip has renewed discussion of media bias. Meanwhile, noting Team Obama's apparently punitive policy toward a hostile reporter, Megan McArdle writes:
One of the biggest challenges reporters--especially political reporters--face is the problem of access. Journalists are dependent on sources for information. Sources use that to get spin--they punish reporters who print things they don't like.
A hostile, defensive policy toward the press has been more typical of Republicans in recent years. The usual approach of GOP media handlers is to seclude candidates from the press except for carefully-controlled set-piece situations. Almost inevitably, this antagonistic approach to media -- the notion that, when it comes to press access, "less is best" -- results in the kind of disasters that afflicted George Allen in 2006.

This was one thing Tony Snow tried to fix at the White House. Unlike 99% of GOP media-relations operatives, Snow had actually worked at newspapers, and therefore realized that transparency is the best policy: "Here's what we're doing, and here's why we're doing it."

There was a time when Republicans weren't afraid to hire P.R. people with newsroom experience. Both Pat Buchanan and Lyn Nofziger were journalists before being hired by Nixon and Reagan, respectively. Nowadays, however, Republican P.R. people are exclusively political operatives trained at some GOP P.R. academy where Lesson One is, "Reporters are the enemy. Avoid them if at all possible possible. Otherwise, treat them like mushrooms: Keep them in the dark and feed them bulls---."

Why shouldn't the media be biased against Republicans, when Republican routinely treat media people like nuisances.

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