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October 15, 2009

What A Difference an Election Makes... in Press Coverage

Anyone want to take bets on how long it takes the White House to reverse this?

The U.S. military in eastern Afghanistan recently changed its media embed rules to ban pictures of troops killed in the war.

“Media will not be allowed to photograph or record video of U.S. personnel killed in action,” says a ground rules document issued Sept. 15 by Regional Command East at Bagram Air Field.

This language is new. A version of the same document dated July 23 says, “Media will not be prohibited from covering casualties” as long as a series of conditions are met.

Pictures of American military deaths are rare, but until now they have not been officially banned during either of the ongoing wars.

The new language was added in early September, according to a military spokesperson, Master Sgt. Tom Clementson of Regional Command East Public Affairs. Clementson described it as “a clarification rather than a new rule.”

“The clarification was added to ensure that service members’ privacy and propriety are maintained in situations where media have unique and intimate access as embedded reporters,” Clementson wrote by e-mail in response to questions. “While RC East does everything possible to accommodate an embedded reporters’ ability to cover the war in this region, there is also a command responsibility to account for the best interests of its service members.”

The change occurred after the wide distribution of a photograph of a dying U.S. Marine. On Sept. 4, the Associated Press released a photo of a mortally wounded Marine in Afghanistan.

This is, to be clear, the same White House that thinks an unfettered media is a good thing... so long as "freedom" is defined as the press being free to praise Obama:

First, the president and his aides go to war with Fox News because the network maintains a generally anti-Obama slant.

Then, an anonymous administration aide attacks bloggers for failing to maintain a sufficiently pro-Obama slant.

These are not disconnected developments.

An administration that won the White House with an almost always on-message campaign and generally friendly coverage from old and new media is now frustrated by its inability to control the debate and get the coverage it wants.

Remember when President Bush was criticized for carefully screening his appearances? Remember how this was touted as proof that he couldn't handle criticism? Yeah, neither do the media:

"You're always sensitive about having your San Francisco moment here," said former White House spinmeister Chris Lehane.

He still recalls a news conference he organized here in 2000 for then-presidential candidate Al Gore. It turned into a near-disaster when a "transvestite kept asking if he would support public funding for sex changes."

"No matter how you answered, you get in trouble," Lehane said.

As for Obama's visit, Code Pink co-founder and political rabble-rouser Medea Benjamin said the Pinks are still planning "something big and visual" at Union Square, across from the St. Francis fundraiser.

We're also told a Code Pinker has already bought a ticket to the Obama event and will try to hand the president a petition demanding a U.S. exit strategy from Afghanistan.

And - no doubt - the protester will be exiting just as quickly.

Note how when Obama avoids his critics we get sympathetic quotes from Democratic strategists eager to explain how smart it is for politicians to avoid embarrassing situations. When Bush avoided his critics, we got quotes from Democratic strategists telling us how Republicans are unwilling to listen to opposing viewpoints and hysterical accusations of jackbooted oppression.

Transparency and openness, it would seem, are not unalloyed goods (unless, of course, they support the narrative). Fortunately our President happens to be a big fan of talking to our enemies.

Unless, of course, they are domestic terrorists like Fox News.

Posted by Cassandra at October 15, 2009 08:18 AM

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I've always wondered how Obie would manage a confrontation with our enemies when he's obviously scared stiff of facing a Fox interviewer.

Posted by: BillT at October 15, 2009 01:08 PM

Can we tie the media and the Administration up, in the garage, over the newspaper? Without their recording and/or broadcasting devices?

Posted by: Average Neanderthal at October 15, 2009 01:31 PM

Quit distracting me! Can't you see that I am preparing a paean to The Great One? "Like olympian Zeus, the Most High Obama gazes upon the world of mortals, ...".

If Greek hymns to the gods aren't your bag, I have also prepared a wonderful little libretto for Our Beloved Leader, as well as an inspiring choral arrangement, "Ode to Obama", loosely based upon the famous "Ode to Joy".

Posted by: a former european at October 15, 2009 01:38 PM

Can we tie the media and the Administration up, in the garage, over the newspaper? Without their recording and/or broadcasting devices?

Heh. Only if you let me watch.

Hint to the humorless: THAT WAS A JOKE.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 15, 2009 01:40 PM

If my work is pleasing to the Most High, Hollywood is sure to immortalize me like Mozart! It will be a touching story of a young genius in music and song, pure in revolutionary thought and socialist ardor, whose only desire is to praise the name of the Holy Obama, brought down by the evil, vast, right-wing conspiracy. They will call it "Amadoofus".

Posted by: a former european at October 15, 2009 01:42 PM

Joyful, joyful we adore Thee, Barrack Hussein Obama! ...

Posted by: a former european at October 15, 2009 01:47 PM

You're killing me, afe :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 15, 2009 01:58 PM

"They will call it "Amadoofus"."
Woof-dog Amadoofus Mo-smart! Outstan...


Posted by: John's next B-movie Waters in scratch-n-sniff odorama at October 15, 2009 02:09 PM

It was OK when the Shrub did it, but it's not OK when Barry does it. You are just too damned dyspeptic: you are never happy.

Posted by: I Call BS at October 15, 2009 02:24 PM

No, what she's pointing out is the Left's hypocrisy at first castigating Bush, then praising Obama -- for doing the exact same thing.

I'll betcha you'd be dyspeptic too, if people consistently misconstrued what you said...

Posted by: BillT at October 15, 2009 03:04 PM

It was OK when the Shrub did it, but it's not OK when Barry does it.

Actually, that's not what I said at all. Not that it matters what I actually said :p

Posted by: Cassandra at October 15, 2009 03:17 PM


Posted by: I Call BS at October 15, 2009 03:24 PM


Translation for the Visualization Impaired: "I got nothin' -- as usual."

Posted by: BillT at October 16, 2009 06:15 AM

I see a huge difference between the carefully scripted and vetted-for-political opinion crowds at the average Bush speech, vs preferring to avoid something on the order of a boisterous transvestite or code pinker contingent disrupting an event. The biggest difference of course, is that a Code Pink member did attend the event, and did hand the President the petition. People opposed to Mr Bush's policies were removed from the audience for wearing t-shirts or having a bupersticker on one's car that didn't tow the "right" line.

As for appearing on FoxNews, that the administration--including the president--oughta do (as long as he sticks with the one's who claim to be journalists, rather than the avowed opinioneers.) I'm with John Nichols as to where FoxNews stands, but opposition questioning (and intelligent responses, of course) make for a better, more responsive government.

Posted by: repsac3 at October 17, 2009 10:06 AM