The Larger Implications of the AP Affair

Of all the scandals, mini-scandals, and scandals-in-waiting circling the White House these days, the one that should set off the most alarms in the Oval Office is the AP phone records affair. It’s not so much its relative placement on the egregious overreach scale; it’s the fact that it involves the mainstream press. This is an assemblage  of men and women that has been vital to the political success of the President. This is the group that collectively decides whether an event, or series of events, constitutes a scandal or, for that matter, even a story.

When scandal engulfs an administration, it’s generally not about one isolated occurrence, but rather a confluence of events that forms a narrative and paints an unsavory picture. Until now, that dynamic has been lacking in the coverage—or lack thereof—of  stories such as Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and the IRS. Now, however, this administration has provided a linchpin to the scandal process with its peek into AP’s virtual Rolodex. The press is now angry, and that’s not a good thing for Obama, Inc.

No group of professionals is more thin-skinned and protective of its turf than the press. Just ask Tom Brokaw, whose recent ruminations about the appropriateness of his brethren’s participation in the White House Correspondents’ Dinner unleashed a series of “lighten up, Tom” attacks from media folks. Additionally, there’s a lot of water that has been held back by the protective dam built by much of the mainstream press, and there’s no telling how much damage might be done if the dam bursts. There’s a cracking sound coming from upriver, and it might be time to start placing sandbags around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

  1. The Mugwump

    You might recall during the Watergate scandal that the Doonesbury comic strip featured a brick wall going up around the White House.  Each day the wall grew a little higher until the final brick blotted out the White House completely.  Perhaps the Obama administration is laying the foundation today for something similar.   

  2. DrewInWisconsin
    Pat Sajak: Additionally, there’s a lot of water that has been held back by the protective dam built by much of the mainstream press, and there’s no telling how much damage might be done if the dam bursts. There’s a cracking sound coming from upriver, and it might be time to start placing sandbags around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    “Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.”

  3. Gretchen
    ~Paules: You might recall during the Watergate scandal that the Doonesbury comic strip featured a brick wall going up around the White House.  Each day the wall grew a little higher until the final brick blotted out the White House completely.  Perhaps the Obama administration is laying the foundation today for something similar.    · 0 minutes ago

    How do you think the Obama scandals will play on Doonesbury? Or won’t they?

    Pat is right–it’s all about how angry the press gets.

  4. Tom Lindholtz

    Pat, we live in hope.

  5. Stuart Creque

    Caligula was able to abuse nearly every class of Roman society with impunity, until he made his personal guards angry.Obama’s people forgot that the press has served as his Administration’s Praetorian Guards. Someone in Obama’s position must never take the love of his lackeys for granted; he should have read his Machiavelli.

  6. tabula rasa

     ”They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.”

    “They who live by the sword, die by the sword.”

    By quoting these proverbs, I mean that when you think you can get away with anything, including intimidating your lap dogs, eventually the anger reaches the point that friends and enemies unite to pop you a good one.  I don’t predict anything crazy like impeachment, but Mr. Obama is going to go around with a bloody nose for quite some time–and if he thought he’d have both houses for the last two years of his term, he can forget that.

  7. billy

    The Washington press corps’ reaction to all this is rather amusing. They act like a state run media and then are stunned when they are treated as such.

  8. Mr. Dart

    “… it was a little Portuguese Water Spaniel dog in a crate sent all the way from Chicago.  Black and white spotted.  And our little girl– Malia– named it Bo.  And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog and I just want to say this right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.”

      –Barack Obama, 2013 in his televised address to the nation on the multiple second term scandals.  The address came to be known as The Bo Speech.

    (From the Trial By Fire interactive exhibit at the B.H. Obama Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, Illinois.  Dedicated 2020.)

  9. Pseudodionysius

    “If I have fully diagnosed the cause and nature of your condition, you are wasting away in pining and longing for your former good fortune. It is the loss of this which, as your imagination works upon you, has so corrupted your mind. I know the many disguises of that monster, Fortune, and the extent to which she seduces with friendship the very people she is striving to cheat, until she overwhelms them with unbearable grief at the suddenness of her desertion”

    ― Boethius (*), The Consolation of Philosophy

    (*) Who knew a thing or two about Wheels of Fortune.

  10. Matthew Bartle
    ~Paules: You might recall during the Watergate scandal that the Doonesbury comic strip featured a brick wall going up around the White House.  Each day the wall grew a little higher until the final brick blotted out the White House completely.  Perhaps the Obama administration is laying the foundation today for something similar.    · 40 minutes ago

    I was just thinking about that exact sequence. 

  11. Frederick Key
    Maggie Somavilla

    ~Paules: You might recall during the Watergate scandal that the Doonesbury comic strip featured a brick wall going up around the White House.  Each day the wall grew a little higher until the final brick blotted out the White House completely.  Perhaps the Obama administration is laying the foundation today for something similar.    · 0 minutes ago

    How do you think the Obama scandals will play on Doonesbury? Or won’t they?

    Pat is right–it’s all about how angry the press gets. · 32 minutes ago

    Doonesbury still around? Jeez.

    Anyway, Mr. S, your lips —> God’s ears.

  12. Sandy
    Pseudodionysius: “If I have fully diagnosed the cause and nature of your condition, you are wasting away in pining and longing for your former good fortune. It is the loss of this which, as your imagination works upon you, has so corrupted your mind. I know the many disguises of that monster, Fortune, and the extent to which she seduces with friendship the very people she is striving to cheat, until she overwhelms them with unbearable grief at the suddenness of her desertion”

    ― Boethius (*),The Consolation of Philosophy

    (*) Who knew a thing or two about Wheels of Fortune. · 11 minutes ago

    Wonderful to read this, though I can’t help but wish that this were indeed the main source of the corruption of his mind, and I don’t believe he is grieving, though the press corps, bless their tiny little hearts, may be doing so.

  13. DrewInWisconsin

    Oh, but I’d give a month’s income to be a fly on the wall of the Oval Office this week.

  14. Mr. Dart
    DrewInWisconsin: Oh, but I’d give a month’s income to be a fly on the wall of the Oval Office this week. · 4 minutes ago

    Might not be that much to hear…

    Empty-chair.jpg

  15. Richard Fulmer

    I’d like to believe that the press will react like jilted lovers as Pat suggests, but I just don’t buy it.  Most reporters have made extremely clear by now that they are progressives first and reporters second (or maybe tenth).  Regardless of whatever ruffled feathers are displayed in the next few months, the press will be back on the Democratic plantation by election time. 

  16. KC Mulville

    Their first reaction in all of these controversies is to claim that they had nothing to do with these scandals; it was all of these agencies with low-level employees working independently of the White House.

    Does the word “administration” mean anything to these guys?

    Why are we paying for an executive branch that doesn’t bother with any actual management? If this had been baseball, and the relief pitcher had just given up his third consecutive home run, the manager wouldn’t be sitting in the dugout and moaning, “gee, that pitcher stinks.” The manager would be sprinting to the mound to replace him.

    It amazes me that Jay Carney and Obama’s answer to these things is:  hey, if there was wrongdoing, we’re also really upset about it.

    —-

    Just a point of curiosity … in the first term, Obama had Axelrod, Plouffe, and even Rahm Emanuel around to fix this stuff. They’re not there anymore.

    Who’s Obama’s chief of staff right now? Who’s the guy who cleans up the mess before it gets to Obama? Who’s the designated fixer?

    This new cleaning crew is doing a really lousy job.

  17. raycon and lindacon

    A whore who loves her John and believes he loves her and will share his life with her, will take any level of abuse and keep coming back for more.  

    And whores are sometimes beaten to death by their Johns.

    And other whores continue on as though nothing has happened.

  18. Dan Hanson

    It was inevitable that the press would turn on the Obama administration as soon as the following conditions were in place:

    1. He could not be re-elected again, so there was no need to protect him from the evil Republicans, and

    2. There was no clear line of succession that required the protection of this administration for the sake of the next election.

    We could add an optional third condition:

    3. The conduct of the administration is embarrassing liberalism, and thereby making it more likely that Republicans will benefit from it.

    All three of those conditions have been met, so now it’s time to throw Obama under the bus so that the party image can be saved.  The press now needs to show that the failings of this administration are not systemic with liberalism, but individual failings of members of the administration.  The brand must be protected.

    In addition, you can bet that the knives are coming out in Democratic circles as prospective 2016 contenders seek to distance themselves from the failing administration and/or establish their bona fides as ‘honest politicians’.   Expect some of them to be shocked and outraged that such things are going on.

  19. Richard Fulmer
    Dan Hanson: 2. There was no clear line of succession that required the protection of this administration for the sake of the next election.

    What about the 2014 mid-terms? 

  20. Pilli
    Dan Hanson: [...] In addition, you can bet that the knives are coming out in Democratic circles as prospective 2016 contenders seek to distance themselves from the failing administration and/or establish their bona fides as ‘honest politicians’.   Expect some of them to be shocked and outraged that such things are going on. · 39 minutes ago

    I wonder where that leaves Hillary.  She is waist deep in one of the scandals.