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Obama apologist of the day

CJR's David Cay Johnston discovers that it takes a week of callling to get through to a human at the White House Press Office, and when he finally does, the person on the other end of the line won't spell his name or give his job title. And the second call goes even better:

A return call is answered by Priya Singh, who spells her name when asked, but does not know (or will not say) what her job title is and several times describes requests for information about how the Obama administration press office is operating as a “complaint” which she would pass on. She says she is not authorized to comment, though she at one point tells me she is a spokesperson.

Jeebus, who's minding the store, here? Dilbert's pointy-haired manager? Johnston has the temerity to point out that, gee, it might help Obama get his message out if the White House press office is actually able to, ya know, work, and of course that brings the OFB charging out of the box. There are many deserving candidates, but I think Countervail's is the best:

Maybe the individuals at the press office didn't want to answer your questions because you sounded like a smarmy old coot of a pedagogue wasting their time rather than a serious journalist inquiring about actual, relevant news with which they could assist. I would hope they had more urgent and important matters to deal with instead of indulging your fishing trip for leads on some kind of supposed internal failing or secretive operations at the department. In fact, isn't the irrelevant nature of your inquiry the exact thing that would prompt a reception fitting the narrative of your bogeyman tale?

If the Obama campaign and transition has shown us anything, it is that they are disciplined and focused on performance rather than the more frivolous aspects of typical Washington gamesmanship in dealing with the press and the public. I somehow doubt questioning the operations of the press department and the suppositions inferred in this article, especially two and a half weeks into the administration, qualifies as real news. A less indulgent person than those you spoke to would have told you to bug off. I can only imagine the eye-rolling and nicknames ("Professor Journalism is on the phone") associated with you now at the department, and rightly so. I wouldn't reply to your emails either.

Sweet jeebus. You'd think people who were "focused on performance" would be able to handle a phone call from a reporter without totally fucking it up. Or would be able to set up a press operation that worked from, er, Day 1. No wonder all these tax eruptions keep happening.

Glad to see the tone in Washington changing, though.

NOTE As predictable and predicted, the OFB will not change, now that they are "governing." What worked for them in the primaries, they will continue to do until stopped.

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Submitted by jawbone on

is and the extremely important work he has done in explaing how the Federal government under Repubs (with some assistance from Dems) has created a massive transfer of wealth to the uber wealthy using the tax codes.

Yikes! The Stupid, it burns! Like white phosphorous.

Submitted by jawbone on

being very good at getting back to reporters. Interesting--and seems like something very easy to fix. And really ought to be fixed.

It's the second comment from the top, by James:

First, recognize that all reporters are working on a deadline. They are required to file (submit) *something* on their deadline. Wire reporters have to file 3-5 times per day -- newspaper reporters once or twice. Look, that's the job.

So the Dem side doesn't return calls for hours, and sometimes never. One reporter told me the following last Wednesday:

Just taking today:

Call or email GOP press aide, you get a response somewhere between 2 mins (best) and 3 hours (worst) but usually within 20 minutes.

Call or email Dem press aide, you get a response somewhere between 15 mins (best) and never (worst) but usually not for at least three hours.

That’s excluding people who pick up immediately, which breaks down roughly 50-50.
More from the same reporter:

About half of the folks on each side take the call immediately.
GOP leadership calls and/or emails within two minutes. They call back if needed.
Dem leadership press folks never call back.

There's more about how bad the press people are for the leadership. If true, this is absolutely amazing. And Eric Boehlert says he himself experienced poor response when a Salon reporter.

But, from the WH? I thought the Obama team had learned so much from studying Clinton's and Bush's successes and mistakes.... Hint, Obama: There's a movie you can watch titled The War Room. Rent it, you and Axelrod may learn something.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

that's why this idiotic birth certificate scandal is still with us, and why we're still hearing about "the whitey tape". It seems he is interested in putting his message out, but not much more. Follow up questions don't interest him. Debunking lies doesn't interest him. Being responsive to what reporters want to write stories about doesn't interest. It's about what he wants you to know when he wants you to know it. And if he doesn't want to answer question, he doesn't. He just keeps eating his waffle and whines.

TonyRz's picture
Submitted by TonyRz on

There's more about how bad the press people are for the leadership. If true, this is absolutely amazing. And Eric Boehlert says he himself experienced poor response when a Salon reporter.

Democrats should listen less to Nancy and watch more "Daily Show". They did a piece after the 2004 conventions at some point, comparing each party's treatment of the press during the conventions, incorporating some of this:

Right now, I can't find corresponding Boston'04 report.

Well, kinda. Look where they put the Big Bloggers in 2004:

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

This is one of those "do they have mirrors where you're from" type of post. That this guy isn't able to connect Johnston's experience and complaint with it being anything but "disciplined and focused on performance" is nothing short of amazing. It's a level of detachment only capable of true-believing fanboys.

Ian Welsh's picture
Submitted by Ian Welsh on

I can say this has been my experience, although that was with the transition team. Speaking of the campaign and primaries, Obama's campaign was the most closed of all the campaigns. Even Clinton, even before she was losing, was more responsive. You might get blown off, but as a rule they'd take the time to blow you off politely. From the Obama folks, often enough, silence.

(And, while I'm not the most Obama friendly blogger in the world, I have heard the same thing from people who were extremely Obama friendly.)