Politico's article about the White House media is an eye-opener
Politico's White House reporter, Max Tani, took to the pages of Politico's Magazine to explain why the role of White House reporter has lost its luster. Those who haven't drunk the Kool-Aid understand that this is because those who appear in the White House are no longer true journalists, "speaking truth to power," challenging obviously dishonest political narratives, and serving the public as the Founders imagined when they included the press in the First Amendment. Instead, they are sycophants, prima donnas, and party hacks. Tani, though, earnestly assures readers that being a White House reporter is dull because Biden and his press team are so incredibly perfect.
The following are a few of the most illuminating passages from Tani's long, long effort to explain why the media are so obviously the propaganda arm of a hard-left administration fronted by a demented old man in the Oval Office and an exceptionally stupid woman waiting in the wings in the vice president's office. (I've interlineated a few of my comments in square brackets):
Image: Jen Psaki (edited). YouTube screen grab.
But during the age of Biden, a perch inside the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room has become something altogether different. It's become a bore.
The dulling down of the White House beat is not due to a lack of reportorial talent in the room. Nor has it meant that the work being done hasn't been important: major stories are being broken regularly on everything from the Covid fight, to the war in Ukraine, to inflation, immigration and legislative battles over the social safety net. Rather, what is happening is the fulfillment of a central Biden promise. Running for office against Donald Trump — the most theatrical, attention-seeking, Beltway-panic-inducing president in living memory — he pledged to make Washington news boring again. [Only leftists could find boring the erasure of America's border, transgender insanity, levels of racial hostility not seen since the 1960s, a manifestly dysfunctional president, and a veep who can't keep her staff and is as dumb as a rock.]
"Jen [Psaki] is very good at her job, which is unfortunate," one reporter who has covered the past two administrations from the room said. "And the work is a lot less rewarding, because you're no longer saving democracy from Sean Spicer and his Men's Wearhouse suit. Jawing with Jen just makes you look like an asshole." [Psaki is a liar and the master of crude snark against those who challenge her. She's not even a good liar. She just has a complacent audience.]
"It's not such a bad thing that there's a new sense of sobriety in the White House briefing room," said Eric Schultz, a former deputy press secretary under Obama. "The histrionics probably got out of control. It is serious business… It's probably good for democracy for this to be less personality based and more about the work." [The histrionics weren't Trump's. They came from media hacks desperate to pose before the cameras as freedom fighters against Orange Man Bad.]
Reporters like Sarah McClendon and Helen Thomas, Sam Donaldson and Thomas DeFrank, became icons in the industry. And as television viewership grew, the trend became even more pronounced, with figures like CNN's John King and David Gregory seeing their careers launched after tenures on the White House beat. [They became icons to each other because they attacked Republican presidents and ran cover, as much as possible, for Democrats.]
[Here follows some amazing spin about the fact that Biden's staff don't trust him for a single minute to go off record because he can't hold it together anymore.] But attention isn't his [Biden's] brand, the way it is with Trump, and his staff exerts far more control over his time and his media interactions, alongside their efforts to eliminate traces of palace intrigue from political coverage. The president does few interviews and his communications team has an informal policy of not engaging in gossip stories (whether they always stick to it is another question) and chide reporters who they don't think focus enough on policy. Press secretary Jen Psaki rarely expresses emotion from the podium, where she speaks slowly and avoids lengthy confrontations with reporters. [Psaki's only emotions are (1) ignorance or confusion covered by spin and (2) fury at Peter Doocy.]
This hagiography of a demented, extremely nasty old man who is a puppet for unidentified hard leftists pulling the strings and a particularly mean and dishonest press secretary is stunning. What comes through loud and clear isn't that Biden's White House is a haven of sanity. It's that Max Tani and his colleagues in the White House press room are hard-left attention-seekers and, when they have a president whom they can ignore as long as they spin their stories the right way, they're missing the attention and feeling bored.