Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: How Obama Works the Press by Heather DiCanio

Thursday, May 03, 2012

How Obama Works the Press by Heather DiCanio


                                                                    "Obama Works the Press"        
                                                     
                                                      The Washington Post, February 9, 2009
                                                                   
                                                                         By Howard Kurtz                             


The article I chose is called "Obama Works the Press" by Howard Kurtz of the The Washington Post. This article talks about how Obama chooses and plans what to say to the press at every moment. He has done this throughout many points during his presidency, and while he was running for president. Also included in this article are many peoples opinions about Obama choosing to do this and whether it has helped or hurt him.


When Obama signed an order that allowed federal funds to be used to help support the promotion of abortion he was able to keep this away from the media. At the time there was a huge media coverage over this issue, so he knew that there would be some sort of problem if it was leaked to the media. To avoid this, he made sure that the signing took place away from any reporters or camera men. It is stated in the article that "Obama has picked his spots, minimizing his media exposure when the hot Washington topic is one he would rather avoid." Even though Obama has avoided certain issues he still makes sure he is available to the media at all times. He can be accessed on the internet every day to answer any questions reporters have through his blogs or through interviews. He also puts out YouTube videos of his weekly radio address. Obama realizes how influential the media is and that he needs to be attainable at all times.


To help himself during his election he agreed to take interviews with NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN over the issue of his stimulus package. He did not want to pick and choose which reporter to talk with over this issue because he wanted Americans to see the importance of it. Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said "We're exploring every way we can do it. We need to get voters where they are." This shows how Obama knows what to share and urge with the media to help get Americans support. There was a major situation connected with this though. Right before these interviews Tom Daschle, a US senator, withdrew because he owed a large amount of money in back taxes. The way Obama handled this was by admitting to many reporters that he had "screwed up", instead of avoiding them. After this had happened McKinnon stated that "the new president is a gifted communicator."

 During news conferences Obama decides before hand who to accept questions from. These reporters are contacted in advance so they are prepared to be called on. In the beginning of his presidency, during a news conference, Obama was asked a question regarding a Pentagon candidate. Rather than ignoring the question, he responded by saying "I came down here to visit, see, this is what happens. I can't end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I'm going to get grilled everytime."


Some people agree with how Obama handles the media, and others strongly disagree. A former worker for Clinton, Bruce Reed, said how "Obama showed he can take a punch, and learn a lesson. Most Americans root for their president to succeed, and that's especially true for Obama." He also said how "Obama handled the first bad news of his presidency with the class and candor. He took responsibility, took his lumps, and took the lesson to heart by saying 'I screwed up'." Rich Lowry is one who disagrees with Obama's ways by stating "When Barack Obama ran last year, he didn't say he'd engage in faith-based economic policy on a grand scale. He didn't say he'd toss aside the normal processes of governing. He didn't say he'd quickly act to add waste to the federal budget. And he didn't say he'd try to brush away criticism with the mere assertion of his victory." Lowry supports his statement by saying how "the economy is in far worse shape now than it was even in October."


Another article published by The Week supports how Obama manages the press. This article can be accessed at: http://theweek.com/article/index/211885/how-obama-manipulates-the-press. In this article, John Harris and Jim VandeHei of Politico, say that "the turn around in the president's fortunes is partly due to his skill in playing the Washington press like a fiddle", and how he changed himself from "one sad sack of a president to the master of the moment." An example that they provide is how Obama was compared to Jimmy Carter, which he did not like. To resolve this Obama presented himself to the press with things that could compare him to Reagan or Clinton. During a vacation, Obama made sure that he had a copy of Reagan's biography in his hands, so when reporters took pictures of him it would spread through the media. As a result, Time Magazine put him on the cover and titled it "Why Obama Loves Reagan." This made the comparision to Carter die down.


After reading these articles I support how Obama handles the media. The media can destroy a person very easily, especially the president. Not only is the president the biggest influence on American society, but he is also a respresentation of America. It is extremely imperative that our president is presented to the world in the best way possible, and Obama tries his hardest to make sure that happens.


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