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In my somewhat brief time upon this Earth, I have never seen a more obsequious D.C. press corps than the one covering President Barack Obama. There was bias during the early Clinton era, but reporters were still quick to joke about his love of fast food and faster women. They were said to fawn over JFK, but that was before my time and we were in a seemingly life-or-death struggle with the Red Menace.
But today’s press goes beyond simple bias or affection. “Obsequious” might not be the right word. I could have used “brown-nosing,” “unctuous” or “deferential.” Maybe “throne-sniffing.” Or “sycophantic.” “Obeisant,” “parasitical,” “compliant,” “worshipful,” “ingratiating,” “servile,” “prostrate,” or “toadying?” Look, the precise word isn’t the point. Let’s just say if any president should be pleased with the fourth estate, it’s Mr. Barack H. Obama of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
This makes former White House reporter Ann Compton’s revelations all the most ridiculous. Speaking to C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb, the journalist noted that the president launches into “profanity-laced” tirades against the press — to their faces.
COMPTON: I have seen in the last year Barack Obama really angry twice. Both were off the record times. One, profanity-laced where he thought the press was making too much of scandals that he did not think were scandals. Another where he took us to task for not understanding the limits he has with foreign policy and the way he’s dealing with the Middle East and Iraq, and Afghanistan. And I don’t find him apologetic. But I find him willing to stand up to the press and look them in the eye, even though it was off the record and just give us hell.
LAMB: Does he have a point?
COMPTON: From his point of view, he may. But we cover what we are allowed to cover. And when policy decisions and presidents are inaccessible and don’t take questions from the press on a regular basis, I think they get — they reap what they sow.
“But we cover what we are allowed to cover.” After six years of a blundering, paranoid, verbally abusive executive, the press still kowtows to his demands for politically motivated privacy, even as their fellow journalists are bugged and threatened with jail time.
The press isn’t just biased. They’re codependent.