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Working the Refs: Access to Obama and Palin.

One of the big stories in the last two days was the unavailability of Sarah Palin for interviews (Palin has been out campaigning and giving speeches, but has put off interviews for now).

I think Barack Obama had the best term for public complaints about the opponent's behavior: Working the refs.

If I were Obama, I would try to work the refs too. After all, Palin is indeed dodging the press.

But observers should not get too worked up about this issue, given the Obama campaign's long history of struggles with the press over access to Obama, intermittent refusals to hold regular press conferences with the reporters following him (favoring instead short interviews with local and national press less up on the issues), and the habit of punishing any reporters who probe too deeply, especially about his carefully crafted personal history.

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: From February through July.

POLITICO, 2/3:

"We're not on the plane, in my view, to have private talks with presidential candidates," Zeleny added. "We're here to report what they are saying and give our readers a better idea of their campaigns and their candidacies."

"There has never been a press corps in the history of our nation that got as many interviews as they wanted," Jen Psaki, the Obama campaign's traveling press secretary, responded in an e-mail.

. . . Whereas a candidate like Sen. John McCain of Arizona relishes lengthy on-the-record bull sessions with the media, Obama generally does not. So it's no surprise that reporters will rush to get a quote when he does so.

Of course, journalists griping about not getting enough access is nothing new — but as Obama and Clinton fraternize a bit more with the traveling media, and the rules aren't clear, it presents a problem.

UPI, 2/26:

Reporters are finding it tougher to gain access to Barack Obama as the Illinois senator's campaign closes in on the Democratic U.S. presidential nomination.

Complaints from the press plane include blackouts on Obama's satellite television interviews and requirements for escorts at large campaign rallies, the Web site The Politico said Tuesday.

The Politico said Hillary Clinton and John McCain remain more open to the press pack and also noted the growing lack of access comes at a time when Obama is seeing increased criticism over a perceived lack of specifics on his platform.

Wall Street Journal, 3/3:

This year, Hillary Clinton made a clumsy attack on Mr. Rezko as a "slum landlord" during one debate. But her campaign has otherwise steered clear — at least until last Friday, when Howard Wolfson, a top Clinton aide, suggested to reporters on a conference call that "the number of questions that we don't know the answers to about the relationship between Mr. Rezko and Mr. Obama is staggering." Mr. Obama's campaign told me they have answered all questions about Mr. Rezko and have no plans to release any further records. . . .

Mr. Obama will eventually have to talk about Illinois, if only to clear the air. After John McCain last month was attacked for cozy ties to lobbyists, he held a news conference and answered every question. Hillary Clinton held a White House news conference on Whitewater and her cattle futures. Mr. Obama must do the same for questions about Mr. Rezko and "the Chicago way" of politics. If he doesn't, they may increasingly haunt his candidacy.

Telegraph, 4/22:

Accusations of a passionate love affair between Barack Obama and the press have been a feature of the 2008 campaign. Well, if that's the case there's maybe a need for a bit of counselling at the moment if the relationship is to be stopped from heading towards splitsville. On Obama One, there's a sense of growing mutiny. There's been no press availability for 11 days and only two in April. And today there was "Wafflegate" yep, the incident achieved gatedom status within hours.

Is Barack Obama too busy eating waffles to talk to the press?

In an exchange in a Scranton diner that may well lead to Obama being dogged by hapless young Republican volunteers dressed in foam waffle costumes come the general election, Aswini Anburajan of NBC asked the presidential hopeful what he thought of Jimmy Carter meeting Hamas. Visibly annoyed, Obama responded: "Why can't I just eat my waffle? I'm just eating my waffle here." Realising he was being videoed, he then winked at Anburajan and tried to make a joke of the moment. But it was too late.

A few hours later, Obama was unrepentant, again rebuffing a reporter's question. . . .

When we asked him (David Axelrod) why Obama wasn't talking to us, he responded: "I'm sure that he'll be spending time with you some time soon. He's done a series of interviews today on national television, on local television with local press so he's done a lot of media."

But Obama's unwillingness to hold a press conference is clearly part of a strategy of message control. Short television, radio or local newspaper interviews are very unlikely to put him at the mercy of the kind of persistent line of questioning he was subjected to during last Wednesday's Philadelphia debate which clearly annoyed him.

In the short term, it might be a clever tactic he hasn't been tripped up in the closing days of the Pennsylvania primary campaign. But in the longer term it could be a problem against John McCain, who grants almost unfettered media access.

Reporters get antsy when they're not talked to particularly if their organisations are stumping up thousands of dollars a day to travel with the candidate. Normally, Obama wouldn't get questions thrown at him in diners, on the tarmac or when he's micing up for a tv show.

But if he's not doing press conferences or avails on the plane then we have no other option but to buttonhole him whenever we can. . . .

When he does engage with the press, Obama can be charm itself and is more than up to the task of handling a bit of back and forth. But as the waffle video shows, avoiding questions feeds the notion of a certain type of arrogance and a feeling that the candidate thinks he doesn't have to hold himself up to proper scrutiny.

Politico, 6/19:

News organizations complain about access to Obama

The Times mentioned today a letter from Washington bureau chiefs of six leading news organizations to the Obama campaign, complaining about access and about being deceived by campaign aides.

I've obtained a copy of the letter, whose signatories include AP's Ron Fournier and the late Tim Russert of NBC. It was sent June 6, after Obama flew his press corps to Chicago and stayed behind to meet Clinton. The news organizations threaten in the letter to withhold payment for the flight.

More broadly, the organizations complain that Obama offers less access to the press even than President Bush, keeping even a single pool reporter out of his security bubble. He also answers relatively few questions, and his agreement to admit reporters to fundraisers remains partial: Last night, the pool reporter, the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut, reported that she was confined to a Kennedy poolhouse while Obama talked to donors.

Guardian, 6/19:

The US media is airing frustration over its access to Barack Obama's campaign, complaining that the Democratic nominee sets a lower standard for press relations than George Bush.

The Obama camp is known for its disciplined message and well-oiled operation. Such control appears to be creating tension with major US television networks and newspapers, which pay high prices to travel with the candidate and expect access to Obama in return.

Reporters have been shut out of two Obama events in the past week, according to the New York Times.

Newsbusters, 7/21:

Andrea Mitchell might be a doyenne of the liberal media, but she has her reporter's pride and principles, which have been trampled by the way the Obama campaign has managed the media during the candidate's current trip to Afghanistan and Iraq. Mitchell let loose on this evening's Hardball, speaking of "fake interviews," and decrying that she was unable to report on pertinent aspects of the trip because the media has been excluded and that the video released is unreliable because it's impossible to know what has been edited out. …

MITCHELL: Let me just say something about the message management. He didn't have reporters with him, he didn't have a press pool, he didn't do a press conference while he was on the ground in either Afghanistan or Iraq. What you're seeing is not reporters brought in. You're seeing selected pictures taken by the military, questions by the military, and what some would call fake interviews, because they're not interviews from a journalist. So, there's a real press issue here. Politically it's smart as can be. But we've not seen a presidential candidate do this, in my recollection, ever before.

The New Republic, 7/24:

Reporters who cover Obama these days grouse that Obama's flacks shroud the campaign in secrecy and provide little to no access. "They're more disciplined than the Bush people," a reporter on the Obama trail gripes. "There was this idea of being transparent, but they're not. They're total tightwads with information."

In June, there was something of a revolt after Obama ditched the press corps on his campaign plane for a secret meeting with Clinton at Senator Dianne Feinstein's house in Washington, leaving the reporters trapped on the flight to Chicago. . . .

Meanwhile, there have been widespread complaints over the shortage of spots to accompany Obama on his tour of the Middle East and Europe. A few days before the tour departed, Time magazine was told it couldn't send a photographer along, and, on July 22, NBC foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell complained on-air that the only images the press had received of Obama meeting with the troops was released by the U.S. military. (To be fair, congressional delegations to Iraq are kept secret for security purposes). And there's been widespread grumbling that the campaign revoked New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza's spot on the trip as retribution for the magazine's recent satirical cover. These may or may not be legitimate complaints--the evidence is mixed--but the press is hardly inclined to give the campaign the benefit of the doubt.

Obama's press liaison, Robert Gibbs, has built a particularly large reservoir of ill will. David Mendell, who covered Obama's Senate campaign for the Chicago Tribune and authored the 2007 Obama book From Promise to Power, wrote about Gibbs as "the anti-Obama" and described him as "Obama's hired gun, skillfully trained to shoot at reporters whose coverage was deemed unfair. Mendell tells me, "if [Gibbs] feels you're necessary to achieve a campaign goal, he will give you access and allow you in. But, if he feels you're not going to be of help, he can just ignore you." Mendell has his own specific gripe: Apparently, the Obama team was less than pleased with his biography, on which they cooperated, and Gibbs has since refused to help with the second edition.

Much of this is certainly the run-of-the-mill complaining of campaign reporters who can't get enough access. Still, the campaign hasn't helped itself, approaching reporters with a sense of entitlement. "They're an arrogant operation. Young and arrogant," one reporter covering the campaign says. "They don't believe in transparency with their own campaign," another says.

Reporters who have covered Obama's biography or his problems with certain voter blocs have been challenged the most aggressively. "They're terrified of people poking around Obama's life," one reporter says. "The whole Obama narrative is built around this narrative that Obama and David Axelrod built, and, like all stories, it's not entirely true. So they have to be protective of the crown jewels." Another reporter notes that, during the last year, Obama's old friends and Harvard classmates were requested not to talk to the press without permission.

As tensions escalate, the risk to Obama, of course, is that reporters will be emboldened to challenge his campaign ever more aggressively

Media Matters, 7/29:

But back to Obama. Any discussion about his press relations and whether his campaign has walled out reporters takes place against the backdrop of the Beltway conventional wisdom that McCain enjoys an easygoing kinship with reporters because his free-wheeling, media-loving campaign boasts an "almost obsessive level of press access," as Ana Marie Cox stressed in a recent issue of Radar. (It's access that, as Media Matters for America's Jamison Foser pointed out, serves no real purpose unless reporters put it to use by asking McCain probing questions.)

"Covering McCain is a blast," wrote Cox. "He genuinely likes reporters: He'll joke with us about our drinking habits, playfully request our cell phones in the middle of a call and tell some unsuspecting editor or parent that the phone's owner has just been hauled off to rehab, and engage in gleefully sarcastic banter about both our colleagues and his."

UPDATE: If I were working on the McCain campaign, I would turn the access question back on Obama — in essence, working the refs.

In a few days, I would announce that Sarah Palin will hold her first open press conference devoted to questions about her background on the day after Barack Obama holds his first open press conference devoted to questions about his background — his Chicago days, his attempts to reform education, his obtaining grants for developers, his ties to questionable friends, and his earmarking practices in both the Illinois and US Senates. This would have to be an announced press conference where Obama would stay long enough to answer essentially all questions from the traveling press, as well as from investigative reporters from the National Review and the Weekly Standard. The next day Palin would hold her press conference and do essentially the same thing, answering questions about her background.

Even if the McCain campaign does not take this exact approach, if Palin ever does hold a public press conference on her background, she should challenge Obama to do the same. If she has to answer questions from the dozens of news organizations now probing her past, Barack Obama should have to answer questions from the very few news organizations who have bothered to look into his in any depth.

2d UPDATE: The more I think about it, I wouldn't trust the existing press corps to do its job even if given the opportunity -- it hasn't so far.

The better offer, which can be made today and fits the anti-press narrative even better, is this: Sarah Palin will sit down for a long interview about her background with an investigative reporter from the NY Times or Washington Post the day after Barack Obama sits down for a long interview about his background with Stanley Kurtz of the National Review.

Nate in Alice:
Jim,

This is getting a bit ridiculous. You are now comparing the complete sequestration of Sarah Palin while she STUDIES UP on issues versus the relative levels of access the Obama and McCain campaigns have granted to the press.

How ridiculous. Obama has been under national press scrutiny for almost two years now. He's granted hundreds of interviews and press conferences--including several on Fox News.

Sarah Palin could take over the most powerful country in the world in a matter of months, and she can't hold a press conference until she's STUDIED UP and READY.

This is bothersome. Your post is ridiculous and your ham-handed defense of Palin is becoming a wart on VC's otherwise stellar reputation.
9.9.2008 2:26am
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):
It's worth mentioning that (a) the limited access Obama granted is more than Palin has granted and (b) McCain has changed his access policy, having closed off his seat on the campaign plane.
9.9.2008 2:28am
AnonMouse (mail) (www):
Thank you for this post personally. Both groups are always trying to control the message, or the narrative. Obama seems to have been very sucessful at this in my opinion (I have been recalling much of these same points of information in your original post as I was reading some indignation over Palin's delays in performing MSM interviews - she has certainly been doing other events).

I really feel like I know as much about Palin in, what is it now, 10 days? As I do about Obama (and yes, I have been paying a lot of attention to all sides and multiple sources). Interviews can wait there is enough time.

To those who are in a hurry - why are you? If shes truly unintelligent then she will make mistakes and all is well, if she is intelligent and can handle it how does it help?

Just a suggestion here ... relax, have a little patience ... this is all going to play out however it will.
9.9.2008 2:39am
Kazinski:
The fact that Palin, just a week after being selected, isn't up to speed on the McCain and Republican position on every issue that comes up in the campaign shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. I'm not suggesting here that Palin needs to parrot every position of McCain, just like McCain in turn doesn't toe the party line completely. What I am asserting is it isn't unreasonable for her to study up on what those positions are so she at least be aware before she steps on a land mine.

Palin bought herself sometime with that great speech last week, and it might not be a bad strategy to limit her exposure somewhat in the coming weeks just to extend her shelf life. Obama himself may have peaked too soon, and may end up a cautionary tale to suddenly hot celebrity politicians. Palin needs to avoid falling in to the same scenario. She is a politician and shouldn't want to be a rock star. Palin is after all the vice-presidential nominee, not the focus of the campaign.
9.9.2008 2:41am
Simon P:
I don't think Palin's unavailability is a big deal. I don't think her inexperience is a big deal. I don't think her going back to Alaska to brush up on some rote-memorization of talking points is a big deal. Similarly, I recognize that Obama's been trying to control media access as part of his message-control. I don't think that's a big deal.

So why is this an issue? Let's say Obama is trying to focus criticism on Palin for doing something he himself has done. So what? How does an apparent inconsistency eclipse the underlying respective issues? What can we possibly hope to derive from it, in deciding how to vote?

More problematic, I'd say, was McCain's refusal to talk to Larry King after Tucker Bounds found himself flat-footed in his interview on CNN. I don't mind that the campaigns are attempting to present a uniform message through the news media -- that's part of what it means to run a campaign these days. I do mind, however, that McCain's willingness to punish CNN for failing to parrot the McCain talking points suggests that he might do likewise, as president. We don't need a Putin-style president, in terms of media management.
9.9.2008 2:43am
Blar (mail) (www):
Obama has been giving interviews to the national press, participating in debates, answering questions at town hall meetings, and so on for, what, like a year and a half? Palin has done none of that, and the election is in under two months. Obama (like McCain) has had some friction with the press over access, but that doesn't come anywhere close to the near-total lack of unscripted contact with the outside world that Palin has had so far on the national stage.

It is important for Americans to get a sense of how well Palin understands the issues that she'll face in the White House, what her views are on those issues, and how she thinks. Voters deserve to have 'job interviews' with a candidate to figure these things out before 'hiring' them to be Vice President (many interviews, so that they can find some questions where the candidate has to go beyond talking points). Palin has 8 weeks to give those interviews, and if she shies away from them then that ought to be a topic of discussion.
9.9.2008 3:05am
Aaron Bergman (mail):
You mean have a press conference sort of like this meeting with the Chicago Trib?

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/
chi-0316edit1mar16,0,4441703,print.story

(URL split because I can't figure out how to post a link with this thing)
9.9.2008 3:10am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Obama (like McCain) has had some friction with the press over access, but that doesn't come anywhere close to the near-total lack of unscripted contact with the outside world that Palin has had so far on the national stage.
Where "so far" is, what, 4 days? (She wasn't going to be holding press conferences during the convention, so that leaves Friday-Monday.)
9.9.2008 3:22am
js5 (mail):
While it's probably helpful to voters to get an adequate idea of what her opinions are on immigration, the nature of government, economics, and individual rights, it's certainly more important that she do these interviews to help McCain gain a more informed understanding of who she is.
9.9.2008 3:24am
js5 (mail):
4 days? more like...9, 10?
9.9.2008 3:24am
marcystrauss (mail):
absolutely ludicrous post--Lindgren is going to ridiculous lengths to attack Obama. Ridiculous given the numbers of debates Obama participated in not to mention appearances on shows like O'Reilly.
9.9.2008 3:35am
Nate in Alice:
Jim,

You're a wingnut. There, I said it.

Obama has been on Fox 3 times ( I believe), even going on that blow-hard O'Reilly's show.

The New York Times, for all it's bias, isn't anywhere near as biased as Fox and O'Reilly, in particular.
9.9.2008 3:50am
Dave3L (mail) (www):
The reason Palin isn't allowed anywhere near the press is because when asked to speak on topics other than moose hunting and creationism she is out of her league. In one of her few unscripted comments to date, she was asked over the weekend what she thought about the Fannie and Freddie bailout:

"They've gotten too big and too expensive to taxpayers," said Ms. Palin, referring to the two entities. "The McCain-Palin administration will make them smaller and smarter and more effective for homeowners who need help."

I guess no one told her that they were private entities, not government agencies.

Ideology trumps knowledge once again. It would be funny if it were not mindbogglingly scary.
9.9.2008 3:53am
Calculated Risk:
That anyone cares about Palin, much less views her as a positive, baffles me.

It shows how pathetically superficial and ignorant this country is that Palin is the focus of so much attention.

She is a VP. She is not running to be President.

That Lindgren would put Obama on the same level as Palin is absolutely absurd, and shows that he is as prone to superficial hype as the typical ignorant and misinformed voter.
9.9.2008 4:29am
Calculated Risk:
Dave3L,


I guess no one told her that they were private entities, not government agencies.


Good point. The only significant thing about Palin is that she is probably the least qualified person to be on a Presidential ticket in the entire history of the United States.

I think it is very unlikely that she would become President if McCain won. But if she did, that would truly be a tragedy.

Let's put it this way. George W. Bush was positively prepared to be President compared to Palin. It is pretty clear that McCain chose her for political effect, not as someone who would be qualified to take his place if something were to happen.

She is, basically, an ignorant yahoo.
9.9.2008 4:33am
James Gibson (mail):
What's the issue, its all political tactics. They have 60 days to win over fence sitters and not make a major mistake. Obama does better with stump speeches and tele-prompters so what is he doing: he's avoiding townhall meetings (even his recent select audience in PA caught him by surprise), and when he can he's sending Biden to the news interviews (like last Sunday's Meet the Press). McCain in turn likes interviews and townhalls, so he is doing them while Palin is giving stump speeches and working from scripts that she has shown she can memorize.

In the meantime both sides are letting surrogates make accusations against the candidates, of which I have to admit the statements against Palin's family are truly counter productive. And if I have to hear one more democrat mix-up deficit with debt and say Clinton left us with no federal debt I'll have to conclude the entire party failed both english language and Econ 101.
9.9.2008 4:44am
Nate in Alice:
James,

Who said we had no debt? Sheesh....that's a whopper.

By the way, Barack was on a talk show this past weekend (as was McCain, and Biden, which you noted).

I think Obama does just fine in town hall settings and interviews. McCain's not without his occasional slip-ups either. Both are pretty good at it all-in-all, and I think the "town hall" aspect of McCain's campaign is more about deflecting his less than commanding "stage presence" when compared to Obama than doing what he likes to do. I'm sure if he was better at speeches, he'd prefer that too.
9.9.2008 4:52am
Darrin Ziliak:
Did Barack Obama beat you up and steal your girlfriend or something?
As others have pointed out, Obama finally appeared on The O'Reilly Factor despite knowing beforehand that BillO is a neocon shill with a history of bullying guests on his show.

I'll buy your argument the day Palin gives an in depth interview with Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann.

Also you might want to consider this.
McCain's legendary access to the press hasn't existed for a few months now, and unscripted access is nonexistent to anyone other than to people like Bush fluffer Bob Scheiffer.

Couple that with Steve Schimdt and his merry crew of Rovian hacks running the character assassination campaign that McCain once forswore, some journalists are starting to realize that they were played for fools all along by John McCain.
As indeed they were.

The McCain of 2000 is a candidate I could have supported.
The McCain of 2008? Despite protestations to the contrary, he *is* GWB v3.0.
9.9.2008 5:01am
Calculated Risk:

I'll buy your argument the day Palin gives an in depth interview with Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann.


I would prefer Palin just shut up entirely. She should be embarrassed to be running for a position for which she is completely unqualified. The less that is said, the better. She is an embarrassment.

McCain has obviously chosen her out of pure political calculation rather than thinking that she was actually the most qualified to hold the job.

Who is more qualified to be Vice President.

Romney or Palin? Answer: Romney
Guiliani or Palin? Anser: Guiliani
Huckabee or Palin? Answer: Huckabee

Or, how about way out from left field...
National Review's David Frum or Palin? Answer: Frum

Anyway, the list could go on and on, almost infinitely.

It is quite clear that McCain, who used to be a fairly principled individual, has basically sold out the interests of the country that he claims to be so loyal to for his own political ambition. There is simply not other explanation for his selection of someone who so completely unqualified to be President as his running mate.

McCain quote:

I'd rather lose an election than see my country lose a war


But apparently, you would risk the well-being of the country by selecting someone who is completely unqualified to be President, even though there were plenty of qualified Republicans, for whatever slight political advantage it would give you. Thanks!


I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's.


But apparently, you are willing to do grievous harm to this country by selecting an unqualified running mate in case, heave forbid, something were to happen to you. Thanks for not providing the country you claim to wish to serve with a good life insurance company.

Would this country be in good hands if Mitt Romney were President? Yes. Would this country be in good hands if Rudy Giuliani were President. Yes. Would it be in good hands if Palin were President. Hell no!

The bottom-line is this. Don't look at John McCain's words. Look at his actions. And his actions have clearly demonstrated that he puts his own political ambitions before the well-being of the country.
9.9.2008 5:38am
omarbradley:
Obama has never answered any questions about Bill Ayers

About the Annenberg Challenge

About the Woods Fund

About the BAIPA. Actually, he did once. He accused the NRLC of lying and then the next day his sopkesman said never mind, they were right.

About his 3 week trip to Pakistan in College

I could go on and on

Palin just showed up last week.

But because she wont put out for Meet the Press you guys get all hot and bothered.
9.9.2008 5:56am
Dan M.:
And it's funny to say that he was brave for going on O'Reilly. His campaign had to meet with Fox and get all kinds of promises before he'd go on there. Barry probably forgot to tell Fox not to ask him about the surge.
9.9.2008 6:06am
tarheel:
The Pre-Palin VC Rule for Dealing with The One (call it the Bernstein Rule) -- all charges and allegations against Obama, no matter how ridiculous, must be fully aired and discussed. After all, what do we really know about this man who wants to occupy the White House?

The Post-Palin VC Rule for Dealing with The [New] One (call it the Lindgren Corollary) -- all charges and allegations against Palin can be attributed to sexism/elitism/partisanship on the part of the liberal/Democrat media. There is hardly a kernel of truth to any of it, and to attempt to discuss her qualifications and history only reveals the flaws in your own character.

Is the echo in the chamber loud enough yet?
9.9.2008 6:17am
Nate in Alice:
Omar,

Obama has answered questions about Bill Ayers. In a debate actually...remember Pennsylvania?

Yah, that one. Nice try--that Ayers stuff is so ridiculous, not even VC would push it. It stinks to high heaven.
9.9.2008 6:21am
Hoosier:
"Darrin Ziliak:
Did Barack Obama beat you up and steal your girlfriend or something? "

He stole *mine*. (Michelle was the only woman I've ever loved.)

Note to self: Obama supporters are becoming unhinged due to their fear of the VPILF.

Note to my fellow McCain supporters: CDC reserchers suspect PDS is caused by a mutation of the BDS virus. As of now, there is no known cure.

Therefore: Be charitable.
Remember: 'Fight PDS, not people with PDS.'
9.9.2008 7:47am
Big E:
Jim,

This is getting a bit ridiculous.



A bit? How about ridiculously ridiculous? I think Lindgren's developed an unhealthy obsession with defeating Obama.
9.9.2008 8:02am
Federal Dog:
Can someone list all the press interviews and public question-and-answer sessions that Obama held during the first ten days of his campaign?
9.9.2008 8:32am
DC:
Or perhaps Jim has an unhealthy crush on Palin.

The whole *framing* of this question as "Palin vs. Obama" is the real Kool Aid. Why not John McCain hold a press conference and answer questions about, you know, the Keating Five, maybe the dissolution of his first marriage, and various other skeletons in his closet? The answer should be because none of it matters much. Not because "Oh, it's 'the One' versus 'the other One.'"

When Paris Hilton's political commentary is deeper than what keeps flooding my RSS feed from Volokh, it's time to reevaluate whether you're posting all this drivel in the right place.
9.9.2008 8:33am
Arkady:

In a few days, I would announce that Sarah Palin will hold her first open press conference devoted to questions about her background on the day after Barack Obama holds his first open press conference devoted to questions about his background — his Chicago days, his attempts to reform education, his obtaining grants for developers, his ties to questionable friends, and his earmarking practices in both the Illinois and US Senates.


I don't know about "open press conference" (anyone know of a "closed press conference"), but...Obama went on O'Reilly's show...maybe Palin can go on Olberman's.
9.9.2008 8:34am
Floridan:
JL: "If I were working on the McCain campaign . . ."

Maybe not "on" but certainly "for."

Dan M: "And it's funny to say that he was brave for going on O'Reilly. His campaign had to meet with Fox and get all kinds of promises before he'd go on there."

So, now O'Reilly is rolling over for Obama?

Have you people no intellectual pride?
9.9.2008 8:35am
Cornellian (mail):
Does Lindgren even have a day job?
9.9.2008 9:15am
Quarterly Prophet (mail):
Hey remember that time where nobody saw or was allowed to talk to Obama and he wasn't really out in the public for two weeks and didn't just talk to O'Reilly?
9.9.2008 9:27am
paul lukasiak (mail):
Obama was accessible to the press when they were treating his as the Messiah -- but any time questions were raised about his past, he shut off press access entirely....and went into full meltdown mode after the Gibson-Stephanopolus debate.

I really feel like I know as much about Palin in, what is it now, 10 days?


actually, while we've heard as much about Palin's past over the last 10 days, we don't know much at all, because the reporting has been so shoddy. Of course, we probably know even less about Obama's real past (hint: Bill Ayres wasn't just some guy 'who lives in my neighborhood') than we know about Palin's at this point.
9.9.2008 9:40am
armchairpunter:
I've got to hand it to those who would criticize SP for opining on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae: "They've gotten too big and too expensive to taxpayers." You told her real good.
9.9.2008 9:48am
solidstate (mail):
The McCain campaign has invited Charlie Gibson of ABC to accompany Palin for two days, this Thursday and Friday (9/11 and 12), as she returns to visit her hometown. She will sit for several interviews with Gibson during that time. The campaign has told ABC that no questions or topics are off limits.

In the interest of a better informed electorate, it would be helpful if Obama did something along these lines, as well.
9.9.2008 9:58am
SeaDrive:
After an entire spring and half a summer of hearing from the right how "the media" is in live with Obama, we now learn that they don't like him much after all him due to lack of access. A bit of a consistency problem.
9.9.2008 10:07am
Anderson (mail):
Previously, I've just wondered whether *commenters* at the VC are being paid for their advocacy.
9.9.2008 10:09am
Hoosier:
SeaDrive:
After an entire spring and half a summer of hearing from the right how "the media" is in live with Obama, we now learn that they don't like him much after all him due to lack of access. A bit of a consistency problem.


In high school, I was very frustrated with Amy Pearson, because I didn't have acccess to her. It didn't mean I wasn't willing to crawl over broken glass for her. Just frustrated.
9.9.2008 10:26am
Clastrenster:
I see an afterschool special in the works.
9.9.2008 10:45am
Anon21:
2d UPDATE: The more I think about it, I wouldn't trust the existing press corps to do its job even if given the opportunity -- it hasn't so far.

The better offer, which can be made today and fits the anti-press narrative even better, is this: Sarah Palin will sit down for a long interview about her background with an investigative reporter from the NY Times or Washington Post the day after Barack Obama sits down for a long interview about his background with Stanley Kurtz of the National Review.

Ok, Jim! You got us. Good show. Now it's time to discard the joker persona and stop pretending that there's some kind of equivalence between explicitly conservative press/opinion outlets like National Review and neutral press outlets so afraid to appear biased that they'll eat McCain's shit all day, every day.
9.9.2008 11:00am
Shertaugh:
Jim:

Clearly, you're drinking too much Kool-Aid in the a.m.
9.9.2008 11:28am
josh:
Still waiting for that Lindgren post blaming the cause of last week's DOW plunge on Palin's acceptance speech (jujst as he blamed Obama's clinching the nomination with a similar slide) ....

Waiting .....

Waiting .....

Chirp ..... Chirp ....
9.9.2008 11:37am
Deoxy (mail):
"They've gotten too big and too expensive to taxpayers," said Ms. Palin, referring to the two entities. "The McCain-Palin administration will make them smaller and smarter and more effective for homeowners who need help."

I guess no one told her that they were private entities, not government agencies.


Keep up with current events before you make a mockery of yourself (too late in this case).

The government guaranteed stuff for FM&FM a couple of months ago, putting taxpayers officially on the hook (it had been implicit for years) for their debt.

As such, yes, they were an expense TO TAXPAYERS, and the expense was growing astronomically, since the people running FM&FM were free to risk and spend money however they liked with the government responsible for the mess.

So, oddly enough, her statement was quite accurate.
9.9.2008 11:41am
former reader (mail):
Does this blog do anything anymore other than push McCain/Palin and bash Obama? I used to read it for interesting legal commentary ...
9.9.2008 12:04pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Because the commentariat has been piling on JL, I will say that for Obama to be less available to the press than Bush was is a remarkable feat -- Bush was notoriously unavailable to reporters, back in 2000.

And while I doubt there's much fire behind the Ayers smoke, Obama was director or CoB on several Chicago nonprofits: Woods Fund, Chicago Annenberg Challenge, and, I believe, the notoriously anti-gun Joyce Foundation. What positions did he take, what were his oversight responsibilities and how did he handle them? What do these board memberships tell us about his core beliefs?


She is a VP. She is not running to be President.

Really, she is. McCain said back in March that his prime criteria are someone "who can take your place, shares your principles, your values and your vision and your priorities." He later acknowledged that this was an obvious concern for anyone his age. And while his mother is hale and hearty at 96, and while HER father lived to be 95, McCain's father died of a heart attack at 70, while his grandfather died of a heart attack at 61. So Palin must be ready to step in.
9.9.2008 12:22pm
Sarcastro (www):
I enjoy complaining on free blogs about how they've added extra content I do not enjoy.

Because I can't help by read everything they post, I insist on quality!
9.9.2008 12:22pm
Hoosier:
Sarcastro--I enjoy complaining on free blogs about how they've added extra content I do not enjoy.

Because I can't help by read everything they post, I insist on quality!



You must be a real pain in the ass at all you can eat buffets.
9.9.2008 12:29pm
Hoosier:
Tony Tutins :
Because the commentariat has been piling on JL, I will say that for Obama to be less available to the press than Bush was is a remarkable feat -- Bush was notoriously unavailable to reporters, back in 2000.


No kidding! I mean, to be worse that Bush? How can anyone support this guy?
9.9.2008 12:30pm
James Gibson (mail):
Nate in Alice responded to my comment about Dems saying that Clinton left us with no debt with. "Who said we had no debt? Sheesh....that's a whopper."

I've heard it twice in just the last week. The first was on Larry King during the Republican Convention when he had Jessie Ventura on and some democratic commentators. The look on Jessie's face when the female commentator said the entire debt was generated by George Bush because Clinton left office with a surplus was priceless. Then last night Alan Colmes made the same statement when talking to Chuck Norris about the national debt. I suspect this is going to be one of the talking points Dems will use for a few more weeks.
9.9.2008 12:49pm
Zywicki (mail):
Doesn't it seem plausible that she is just giving the press a chance to calm down and grow up so that they can be trusted to ask proper questions, rather than idiotic questions about her daughter, false rumors about being a member of the Alaska Independence Party, her husband's 20-year old DUI, etc. If the press proves that it can control itself properly and she still doesn't make herself available, then we might have an issue, but it seems to me that it is quite reasonable for her to decide otherwise at this point.
9.9.2008 12:53pm
Angus:

She is a VP. She is not running to be President.
Not that you can tell this from conservative sites. I checked Hot Air this morning. There were about 20 front page stories. about 10 on Palin, about 10 on Obama. Nothing on McCain at all.
9.9.2008 1:03pm
TruthInAdvertising:
"Note to self: Obama supporters are becoming unhinged due to their fear of the VPILF."

Hoosier, I'm assuming that you haven't posted one comment about the "sexist" attacks on Palin. The fact that you continue to push this trashy acronym says a lot about your lack of class.
9.9.2008 1:10pm
Dave N (mail):
I had my doubts about Governor Palin before the Republican Convention--but the left has come completely unhinged.

Yes, I realize he is just a commenter, and yes I realize Salon is a leftist web publication, but crap like Juan Cole's column today, Palin, Muslim Fundamentalists Are One and the Same make me want to puke.
9.9.2008 1:10pm
dcpi (mail):
Is Palin really the least qualified VP candidate ever? What about William Wheeler? He was nominated as a literal joke. See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_A._Wheeler

So c'mon people, I am disappointed. Let's study our history!
9.9.2008 1:49pm
dcpi (mail):
Just because I can't resist trying to educate more about our nation's great history. Wheeler was Rutherford Hayes' running mate. His reaction (as per Wikipedia):

Governor Hayes, when he heard of what had happened, remarked: "I am ashamed to say: Who is Wheeler?"

And, yes, he was a Republican.
9.9.2008 1:51pm
Cripister (mail) (www):
What is particularly unnerving about Palin- as opposed to Obama's message control- is that she is so new. We had about 60 days to figure out who this Governor for Alaska was and following some controversy, she disappears! Obama has been under the microscope for over a year now. He is a known entity. The first thing Sarah Palin did (whose name some newscasters didn't know how to pronounce when she was chosen) as the VP nominee was disappear! You may try and cast the Obama press control and Palin dodging as the same thing- but it is clearly not. Palin remains an unknown entity while both Democratic candidates are doing their rounds on the Sunday news programs.

There is an increased burden on her (and the ticket generally) to explain to us why she was chosen since she is such a rookie- and since so few people know anything about the Gov. from Alaska. But instead she is dodging? Not cool.
9.9.2008 1:53pm
Bad English:
"Does Lindgren even have a day job?"

Do you?
9.9.2008 1:54pm
Rock On (www):
Yes, because the Washington Post is such a bastion of liberalism that it is clearly comparable to a publication that is open about its conservative slant. Riiiiiiight.
9.9.2008 2:14pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

@ Js5


"While it's probably helpful to voters to get an adequate idea of what her opinions are on immigration, the nature of government, economics, and individual rights, it's certainly more important that she do these interviews to help McCain gain a more informed understanding of who she is."


*shrug* Frankly I think it would be a bit more efficient if McCain and Palin sat down and talked.

But I suppose having her give interviews and then have McCain watch those recorded interviews could work in some sort of hamfisted way.
9.9.2008 2:19pm
Jamesaust (mail):
Mr. Lindgren, you are single-handedly undermining the credibility of this blog.

To recap: Gov. Palin's isolation from the media where Americans know nothing but a few bare facts and the McCain campaign's propaganda is the equivalent of Sen. Obama's isolation for several days from the media where he's been running for President for nearly two years and has done more interviews with the media, public debates, etc. that anyone can probably count.

Fair summary of your argument here? Is this really the claim you want us to swallow?
9.9.2008 2:20pm
Hoosier:
Jamesaust :
Mr. Lindgren, you are single-handedly undermining the credibility of this blog.


No he isn't!

I'm also helping.
9.9.2008 2:33pm
Hoosier:
TruthInAdvertising:
"Note to self: Obama supporters are becoming unhinged due to their fear of the VPILF."

Hoosier, I'm assuming that you haven't posted one comment about the "sexist" attacks on Palin. (Nope. I haven't.)The fact that you continue to push this trashy acronym says a lot about your lack of class. (This from a guy in advertising?)
9.9.2008 2:34pm
Michael B (mail):
PDS, BDS, BS. 50+ comments, 40+ adolescent-like whines, literally none of it substantive, none of it lending insight. Nada, nil, zil, nihilo.

Reminiscent of power-driven aspects of the military-industrial complex, the technological-political complex, in substantial part managed by MSM/Left/Dem allies and alliances, is in slow-mo implode mode.

Reporters and media logistics in general have been diverted from terror related investigations and reports to political investigations, but no complaints about that, not a whine, not a whimper - nada. Excerpt:
"Editors in the print media are shifting terrorism experts on their staffs towards investigations of political candidates. At least three such reporters at three major papers are now chasing Sarah Palin stories."
No, that logistical redeployment is met with no shock, no surprise, no alarums, no "drinking the kool-aid" charges. To the contrary.

Likewise, from a piece titled The Media Plan to Destroy Palin, excerpt:

"The announcement has since been made that Governor Palin will sit down with ABC's Charles Gibson for an interview this week. Democrats will be counting on Gibson to spring a trap on the Republican vice-presidential candidate and make her look like an ignorant buffoon on some issue or another.

""Okay, Governor," Gibson could say to Palin, "who is the president of (insert the name of some obscure country)?" And when she fails to come up with the right answer to one of a dozen or so questions, this will be blown up by Gibson and the rest of the media into another "scandal" about whether she's prepared to be vice-president. The game plan is obvious.

"But nobody should underestimate Palin, a journalist herself before she went into politics. She should be able to handle any barbs sent her way. More than most, she should understand the journalism "profession" ...."
9.9.2008 3:05pm
hugo:
I believe Jim has fallen in love with Sarah Palin.
9.9.2008 3:16pm
Floridan:
Michael B: "Likewise, from a piece titled The Media Plan to Destroy Palin . . . "

I can see why you refence this piece; it is very objective and thoughtful article. All the more so since the author admits he has ". . . absolutely no contacts with the McCain campaign."

Kind of like Jim Lindgren.
9.9.2008 3:40pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
This morning, Obama held a press conference.

I'm wondering when Palin will hold one of those.
9.9.2008 3:54pm
Student:
My only problem with the post is the title: I'm kind of tired of the whole bunch of self appointed supposed do-gooders who at the end of the day care about little but their bottom line. To borrow a phrase: "A ref? yeah, a ref is sort of like a reporter except a ref has an actual rulebook they follow, they don't get to make it all up themselves, and they are accountable to somebody."
9.9.2008 4:59pm
Suzy (mail):

I believe Jim has fallen in love with Sarah Palin.


Seriously. There must be a contest for VC contributors these days: whoever most vigorously defends Palin against any perceived slight will win the opportunity to carry her books after school. She walks on water, apparently.
9.9.2008 6:10pm
Federal Dog:
Suzy:

Seriously. There must be a contest for VC critics these days: Whoever most vigorously whines about Sarah Palin posts she's not obliged to read will win -- well, I'll bite. What do you get for all your whining?
9.9.2008 6:28pm
TruthInAdvertising:
Great Work Mike B. You give us this:

"Reminiscent of power-driven aspects of the military-industrial complex, the technological-political complex, in substantial part managed by MSM/Left/Dem allies and alliances, is in slow-mo implode mode."

with links to two articles making serious claims about the media. The article from the Counterterrorism Blog claims that Counterterrorism experts are being used to investigate Sarah Palin stories. Are any of these experts named? No. Are any of the publications that they work for named? No. Is there one person in the story who's sourced or quoted as verifying these claims? No.

Story Two is from "Accuracy in Media" whose bias is well-known. The writer tries to suggest that Charles Gibson will some how trap Palin with some obscure foreign policy question. His proof? His own ramblings of what he thinks might be in Gibson's mind. This is proof of what? The very idea that Gibson is even considered a tough interview for Palin is a joke. Gibson himself has said publicly that he's going to limit the scope of questions he'll ask Palin. Hardly an example of someone looking to trap the Governor.

Your proof of media bias and conspiracy is two articles, both unsourced and whose content appears to be nothing more than the product of the reporters imagination. You gotta love the irony.
9.9.2008 6:33pm
TruthInAdvertising:
Palin isn't only refusing to talk to the media, she's refusing to answer questions from any voters who might actually get to talk to her. This article touches on that:

No questions, please; Palin sticks to her script

and this voter talks about how Palin responded to his question about whether she's supporting Ted Stevens. How difficult is it for her to answer that question "Yes" or "No"?
9.9.2008 6:37pm
Federal Dog:
That AP account is a pretty obviously hostile hitpiece. In actuality, she, unlike Obama, is immediately willing to do multiple media interviews, with a network hostile to her (ABC), no preconditions attached. Those interviews will be occurring Thursday and Friday, less than two weeks after she was nominated.
9.9.2008 6:46pm
TruthInAdvertising:
"That AP account is a pretty obviously hostile hitpiece."

Please illuminate us on what part of that constitutes a "hitpiece"? Something not factually correct that you don't like? She's being interviewed by Charles Gibson who has already publicly stated he will limit the scope of his questions.
9.9.2008 7:33pm
Federal Dog:
From its title on, it is not an objective statement of facts: The writer hates Palin. An objective statement is that she appeared somewhere and did not take questions. The writer should do some basic coursework on the difference between advocacy and journalism.

Palin, unlike Obama, imposed no preconditions on her interviews. I have no information about what, if anything, Gibson stated about his intent, but that is irrelevant anyway.
9.9.2008 8:15pm
Tony Tutins (mail):

Palin, unlike Obama, imposed no preconditions on her interviews.

What's this? Obama's interviews with whom? Do you mean he's ready to meet with Ahmadinejad without preconditions, but not with, say, Katie Couric?
9.9.2008 9:08pm
TruthInAdvertising:
"From its title on, it is not an objective statement of facts:"

This just shows your ignorance of how news articles are put together. The writer doesn't write the headline, that's done by an copy editor. Any inference on the intentions of the writer based on the headline are off-base. Again, what is factually incorrect in the piece that makes it, as you call, a "hitpiece"?

"Palin, unlike Obama, imposed no preconditions on her interviews."

Really? How do you know this? Do you work for the McCain campaign?
9.9.2008 10:21pm
LM (mail):
Until now I've defended Jim Lindgren's posts against accusations of hackery. Even though it's been obvious he's supported McCain at least since discovering Obama's public service plan, I thought it was an unfair to conclude he wasn't still sincerely inquiring, as opposed to advocating. I'll keep an open mind, but at this point I can't pretend he isn't advocating. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. I know a few people who actually advocate for a living. Like me for instance.)
9.10.2008 12:58am