Another View From the Obama Plane
For most of the summer and through the Democratic and Republican conventions, I spent a considerable amount of time traveling with both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama. And while I’ve remained in awe of the discipline of the Obama campaign — it’s stayed completely on message — and the efficiency of its operatives, I’ve wondered how that translates into governance.
While my colleague Ari Melber marvels at the “coolness” of the candidate, the fact remains that he hasn’t made many friends in the traveling press corps. Obama seldom comes to the back of the plane, and his general press availability has been scant.
Obama still receives good press — particularly from me. But that’s been in lieu of his access not because of it.
Should candidate Obama become President Obama, he may have to shed some of his coolness and speak more frankly and often to the members of the “media filter” if he’s to govern effectively. While often maligned, especially by Republicans, as ideologically biased, most journalists are just trying to do their jobs.
And while the “media filter” can put up with much, an Obama administration should be wary of what can happen if the press is continually kept at arms’ length. Throughout the Bush administration’s first term, reporters frequently grumbled about their treatment at the hands of the White House. But they were essentially ignored as the president’s approval ratings soared in the wake of 9/11.
But the moment things began to go awry, those same journalists struck back, which was not helpful to an administration struggling to get its message to the public.
By opening himself up more to the press, Obama can avoid a smiliar fate should his administration encounter political turbulence.