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White House Likely to Step Up Bullying of Reporters

by Keith Koffler on May 31, 2011, 12:29 pm

The Obama White House has long practiced the tactic of bullying reporters who write stories it doesn’t like. I was on the receiving end of it plenty of times during my time covering President Obama for Roll Call.

It’s a tactic, a form of suppression of speech by the openness administration. I’ve written about it before on this website..

The appointment of Jesse Lee to a White House postion that involves responding to negative stories seems likely to formalize the strategy and signals that such behavior is likely to escalate as the campaign begins, not decline.

While the tactic is done frequently, what’s rare is a mainstream media reporter with the guts to talk about it.

But courage is something Julie Mason of POLITICO has to spare. She gives us an insight into exactly what’s going on.

Take a look at a piece she wrote a few days ago about the turnover in First Lady Michelle Obama’s office.

The story not only takes on a legitimate topic – Michelle is having trouble keeping staff, and turnover in her office is far higher than that of her two predecessors – but it is also completely balanced, with quotes from several perspectives. Various possibilities are suggested as the reason for the turnover.

But according to a post on her Facebook page, this is what Julie got for her effort.

For this relatively benign story, the first lady’s press office called me irresponsible, unprofessional, shoddy, a rumor-monger and a liar. Nice! They also demanded I identify my confidential sources — as a condition for their commenting on the record. Love the transparency!

Shocking, but common fare out of this White House.

And just a note to those who might hold this piece against her: Julie did not in any way suggest that I write this article or encourage me to do it.

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{ 31 comments }

Star May 31, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I don’t supppose we could all be from one country and want the best for it and not be creepy…naw.

Mrs Compton May 31, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Yet they still line up and lie for him. Boggles my mind.

rick golding May 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm

This entire administration has such a superiority complex. As far as Michelle’s staff is concerned, it’s just a “trickle over” to the other side from the west wing.

Granny Jan May 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm

If…and that’s a big if, the rest of the media picks up this story on the WH’s anti-democratic tactics, it will backfire bigtime. It was a nonstory which could potentially become a big story.

Susan May 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Drudge linked to that article over the weekend. Actually thought the article put her in a more favorable light, so don’t know why Michelle would take offense. Now some of the comments were pretty scathing but you can’t blame the author of the article for that.

Also think Jesse Lee and his goons were pretty active on your golf article yesterday. Funny, but I saw some of the exact same apologist, name calling comments on the Nile Gardiner story that Granny Jan linked to earlier.

Their thin skin is going to come back to bite them eventually. On Fox & Friends Larry Sabato said Obama is overdue for a scandal, maybe this is it. Don’t feel sorry for the press, because they brought it on themselves, but it could snowball and turn the press against them in the end.

Then I read this article about Biden refusing to allow reporters to cover fundraisers. Maybe the press is starting to see the light…
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2011/05/30/dangerous_precedent_for_press_110031.html

Granny Jan May 31, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Remember when Biden stuck a reporter in a closet? At least there was a reporter there.
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2011/03/biden-team-apologizes-to-reporter-for-sticking-him-in-closet.html

Susan May 31, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Yeah, he got there before his scheduled time and they didn’t want him to see what goes on during cocktail hour. That’s when all the wheeling and dealing happens. I’ve seen enough Godfather movies to know what is going on right about now.

kokopuff May 31, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I shudder to say this: but the Obamas remind me more and more of my former mayor…the lovely Kwame Kilpatrick (currently serving time for probation violations, among other things.) The hubris and entitlement just smacks of “big fish small pond” mentality. The Kilpatricks and the Obamas have this misguided notion that they are above the scrutiny that routinely comes with holding public office.

MichelleIndependent May 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Actually, I thought perhaps the writer of the article sugar-coated the situation as best she could.

It seemed to be a nice way of writing that MO is difficult, demanding, a witch to work for, and just a mean, inept boss. There’s a high turnover because MOO
(Michelle Obnoxious Obama) is a witch on wheels.

LC Southern May 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm

It would be great to more msm stand up and actually report like you and now Jesse. Waiting to see what her punishment will be.

sportinlife10 May 31, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I don’t understand “actually report like you and now Jesse”. What did I miss?

raul May 31, 2011 at 3:00 pm

just a crazy question!
why has no one in the White House press Corps ever ask about or seen 0bama’s “college records”?
my nephew, a 2011 college grad, is going thru Hell trying to get a US Government Job.
he has to bend over backwards to fill out a SF-85 form….
yet 0bama never had to fill out a SF-85 form?

Stefan May 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Sorry, Julie. But the only way it’s gonna change is for the reporters to be transparent. Give us the name of that staffer that called you!

Susan May 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Absolutely. It will never stop unless you expose it. Hopefully the nasty conversation won’t stop Julie from writing this type of article. These people are trained community organizers who are using their Alinsky tactics on her. They win if she stops writing anything outside of the WH dictate.

Langley barfly May 31, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Does today’s “White House Propaganda/Press Corp” know who Mr. SAM DONALDSON is???

I would LUV! to see a REAL ‘Reporter’ like Mr. Donaldson “challenge” a dope Pres. like Barack Hussein Obama…

LMAO = WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME “Pres. Obama” EVER HAD A ‘PRIME TIME NEWS CONFERENCE’ ?
(re: Obama CAN NOT SPEAK WITHOUT A TELEPROMPTER or at a scripited/controlled propaganda event)

Star May 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm

When Jesse Lee (was he ever in the Dukes of Hazzard?) comes to my house, will let you know…

Susan May 31, 2011 at 7:56 pm

He won’t be coming to Arizona any more than he will come to Texas. We have CCW permits in both states. Besides Jesse Lee appears to be more like a wimpy fruitcake than one of the boys from Hazzard County.

Star June 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

The name…made me think of that. I guess the car was the General Lee…

Pat Alexander May 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm

These folks in the White House don’t have a clue in what the hell is going on with our America! They(the goverment) are clue less on how to run there own business, much less the business of America! It is a non stop nightmare with these folks in charge of America! If they are not voted out soon ,nothing will be left of America, just the pieces of her being tread upon and these fools that are in charge meddling about!

Langley barfly May 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm

So 2011/2012 NO ONE IN THE “media” WILL BE ALLOWED TO QUESTION/CHALLENGE ‘Pres.’ OBAMA..

HOW DARE THE “media” BULLY OBAMA!

srdem65 May 31, 2011 at 4:07 pm

The piece was fine until they tried to explain why so many were leaving MrsO’s employ and then it went into a fine spin. They equated the movement with MrsBush’s turnover without the fact that it took 7 years for the numbers to be about the same. The lame excuse of ‘unprecedented pressure” because MrsO is the first AfAm FLOTUS was pure imagination and had no basis.
America doesn’t put any pressure on the FLOTUS to do or be anything; we’re OK if she stays at home and crochets doilys. We didn’t elect her, don’t want her telling us what to do and only expect that she conduct herself in a conservative and professional manner. We don’t want her flying all over the world, on our dime, for her own personal purpose whether its for a nice vacation or to enhance her husband’s political career.
She makes mistakes, has been promoted by the MSM as something she’s not and it is apparent that she is overwhelmed by her public persona.
There are Internet sites devoted to MrsO’s activities that will ban anyone who dares a negative comment and her trolls scour the Web to protect MrsO’s ‘brand’.
Of course this WH is worried about opposing views to their agenda as was every administration before it. The difference is that they can no longer control the message because the message has been stripped clean of spin throughout the country by social networks and sites like this one.

It would seem that the WH didn’t want any story about MrsO’s staff unless it was one of the puffery pieces that appear in women’s magazines.

Susan May 31, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Well said srdem65.

sablegsd May 31, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Yeah. What s/he said!

Star June 1, 2011 at 11:12 am

America doesn’t put any pressure on the FLOTUS to do or be anything; we’re OK if she stays at home and crochets doilys. We didn’t elect her, don’t want her telling us what to do and only expect that she conduct herself in a conservative and professional manner.

PERIOD. You said it!

Shofar May 31, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Having grown up in Chicago, I can remember columns by Mike Royko, and his comments on “The Boss” Richard J. Daley. Perhaps someone needs to bring back Slats Grobnik, and take on this administration with the same type of bite that Royko used.

How sad it is today when the majority of the media would rather have a nice seat at the Emperor’s table, than strive for the truth and a Pulitzer.

John August 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I can’t see why the Press doesn’t fight back. If they see nothing but hard times from the White House, start paying attention to a candidate already nominated by his party and already campaigning and not bullyin and not hiding.
Gov. Gary johnson is the Libertarian candidate for President. If you start paying more attention to him then 0bama will be rushing out to say something. He’s too into himself to allow someone else to have the spotlight

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SandraC May 31, 2011 at 7:54 pm

WOW, JE!! LOL! Please, do tell us what y’all really think!! Well said.

It’s ridiculous that FLOTUS wore a $2,000 dress to meet with royals. Even when the new Princess wore a 300+ gown, surely a beautiful dress could be found for at least LESS than $1,000. Her dress resembled a Prom gown, was too short and too sparkly.

This dress should go on auction right beside the wedding bow-tie hat that Fergie’s daughter wore to the wedding!

Personally, I liked the time she laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. She wore a bright turquoise dress with a turquoise and white plaid overcoat WITH a boob belt slung crookedly across her middle. Five other people around her in black or formal uniforms and she’s in turquoise…. sigh.

Her clothes are too tight, don’t match, too short and almost always show too much arm or skin. She wears formal clothes in the morning and cocktail dress in the afternoon. Doesn’t anybody ever give her advice on protocol the US FLOTUS should follow? Or, does she just not follow the advice?

Star June 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

She always looks “wrong.” It must be a gift of some sort. Or a curse. She is tall and kind of horsy and these clothes do not work.

aussiewoman August 6, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Summed up in one word ..NO CLASS….
You can put paint on a pig but its still a pig….