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.