At this point, the words "NBC News" constitute a wonderfully condensed little oxymoron. The network that edited audio of George Zimmerman to make him sound racist, that butchered video of a town council meeting to make Second Amendment supporters appear heartless, that beheaded a photo of a gun-toting Tea Partier so no one would know he was African-American, and misused clips of Republican presidential candidates to make them look out of touch and bigoted — that network has no more right to claim it reports "news" than I have to boast I can dance the Polka.
But the network news division was able to elevate its name from mere irony to actual self-parody last week when its White House Producer Shawna Thomas unleashed an orgasmic tweet about the dress Michelle Obama wore to a state dinner: "HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THE FIRST LADY'S DRESS. #BOWDOWN."
Twitter wags savaged Thomas into a walk-back, yet one is still tempted to pontificate on the media's quite different reaction to Sarah Palin's wardrobe or to parse the vengeful triumphalism implicit in that Beyonce reference... but let it pass.
Instead, let's simply savor the purity and concision of Ms. Thomas's evocation of the news media's relationship with this administration. #BOWDOWN. You might say it better, but you couldn't say it any quicker!
American journalism's worshipful prostration before Barack Obama has always been emotionally embarrassing and politically dangerous, but recently it has begun to seem psychologically deranged as well. We might have cringed when, say, New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleney used a White House Press Conference to ask the president what "enchanted" him about being in office. We might feel real concern when editors who became hysterical over W's wholly legal firing of U.S. Attorneys can't even move themselves to indignation over Obama's wholesale politicization of the entire Justice Department.
But when the media continue to dance the We're-Not-Worthy Dance around an administration that seeks to neuter them as an institution, one begins to feel one was too quick to discard some of the weirder theories of Sigmund Freud.
Last week, the Federal Communication Commission's Ajit Pai wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed calling out the regulatory agency for a plan clearly designed to intimidate America's newsrooms into an even more rigidly left-friendly sensibility. The "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," scheduled to begin this spring, would, according to Pai, "send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run." The FCC wants to make sure journalists disseminate "critical information" about such things as "the environment," and "economic opportunities." And it plans to seek out disgruntled (likely minority) employees who feel poorly represented.
After GOP congressmen protested that the plan amounted to an attempt to "control the political speech of journalists," the FCC said it would "review" the study criteria. But I wouldn't breathe any sighs of relief. This administration frequently delays wicked policy to give its media lapdogs a chance to report it is "backing down." Then it goes ahead with what it originally intended. (See Obamacare.)
Anyway, we don't need a thuggish FCC to know this administration wants the media choir to sing the White House song castrato. Reporters Without Borders has already downgraded the U.S. fourteen spots to number 46 on the World Press Freedom Index this year alone. The president's men have tapped reporters' phones and email. And even Jill Abramson, editor of the leftist New York Times, says, "This is the most secretive White House... I have ever dealt with."
And yet the Times and the news networks continue to play down presidential malfeasance — including that which threatens their own freedom!
It was unbelievably childish of journalists to believe, as Barbara Walters put it, that Obama was "the next messiah." It is venal of them to turn a near-sighted eye to his IRS abuse, Benghazi cover-up and unconstitutional non-enforcement of law. But for American news people to #BOWDOWN before an administration that shows open hostility to the First Amendment — that's just hashtag-pathological.