Dirty little secret divulged by the New York Times: Media outlets send their stories to Team Obama for revision before the stories are released.
So much for freedom of the press.
The quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative.
They are sent by e-mail from the Obama headquarters in Chicago to reporters who have interviewed campaign officials under one major condition: the press office has veto power over what statements can be quoted and attributed by name.
Most reporters, desperate to pick the brains of the president’s top strategists, grudgingly agree. After the interviews, they review their notes, check their tape recorders and send in the juiciest sound bites for review.
The verdict from the campaign — an operation that prides itself on staying consistently on script — is often no, Barack Obama does not approve this message.
The push and pull over what is on the record is one of journalism’s perennial battles. But those negotiations typically took place case by case, free from the red pens of press minders. Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations.
To be fair, the Romney campaign insists media use only approved quotes from Romney’s sons, yet that pales in contrast with media basically allowing Obama’s goons to rewrite their stories. Still, do you suppose those recent hit-pieces from the WaPo and Boston Globe were vetted by Team Romney? Doubtful.
Ironically, considering this was from the New York Times, even they admit Team Obama has veto power on their own stories. As if we didn’t already know that.
“We don’t like the practice,” said Times managing editor Dean Baquet. “We encourage our reporters to push back. Unfortunately this practice is becoming increasingly common, and maybe we have to push back harder.”