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    Brooks Back On Board The Obama Ship Of State

    Brooks Back On Board The Obama Ship Of State

    Well, that didn’t take long. On March 3, 2009, New York Times columnist David Brooks issued his “Moderate Manifesto” in which he confessed uneasiness with his choice of Obama. But Brooks is back on board the Obama ship of state, with a column in today’s NY Times in which he all but asks for forgiveness after some administration officials gave him a talking-to.

    Brooks’ March 3 article was startling coming from one of Obama’s greatest cheerleaders. Brooks expressed concern with the radical budget proposals emanating from the White House:

    But the Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs. There is evidence of a party swept up in its own revolutionary fervor …

    Brooks’ piece generated enormous publicity since Brooks was such an Obama supporter during the campaign, once even comparing Obama’s election to a dream come true:

    I have dreams. I may seem like a boring pundit whose most exotic fantasies involve G.A.O. reports, but deep down, I have dreams. And right now I’m dreaming of the successful presidency this country needs. I’m dreaming of an administration led by Barack Obama, but which stretches beyond the normal Democratic base. It makes time for moderate voters, suburban voters, rural voters and even people who voted for the other guy….Is it all just a dream? I hope not. In any case, please be quiet and let me have my moment.

    Among the people who took note of Brooks’ possible turnaround, according to Brooks most recent column, were four unnamed senior administration officials who took the time out of their busy days to set Brooks straight:

    On Tuesday, I wrote that the Obama budget is a liberal, big government document that should make moderates nervous. The column generated a large positive response from moderate Obama supporters who are anxious about where the administration is headed. It was not so popular inside the White House. Within a day, I had conversations with four senior members of the administration and in the interest of fairness, I thought I’d share their arguments with you today.

    Brooks goes on to spend almost his entire column parroting the administration’s position that the budget proposals are not radical. It is the ultimate puff piece (hint, it’s Bush’s fault). The White House is entitled to get its opinion out there, and it does so every single day with press briefings, press releases, speeches, and sundry other communications. Why does Brooks feel compelled to devote almost his entire column not to commentary, but to serving as a funnel for White House spin?

    … the White House made a case that was sophisticated and fact-based. These people know how to lead a discussion and set a tone of friendly cooperation. I’m more optimistic that if Senate moderates can get their act together and come up with their own proactive plan, they can help shape a budget that allays theiranxieties while meeting the president’s goals.

    Ah, sophisticated policy by people who know how to lead a conversation. Well, that must be true, since in one conversation they pulled you back on board. And they are so, so friendly and cooperative. Where have you been these past six weeks?

    And who were these senior administration officials who persuaded you to go back to being an Obama cheerleader, after a day of guilt pangs? Did one of them have the initials R.E., and did he mention a fish wrapped in newspaper?

    I was right to write, after Brooks’ partial mea culpa, that Brooks’ apology was not accepted. My advice to Brooks remains unchanged: “Get lost. And don’t come back, while the rest of us work our ways through the problem you helped to create.” Oh, and stop shaking, now that you are back on team Obama you won’t get the Rush-Cramer-Santelli treatment.
    ———————————————————
    UPDATE: Check out Robert Stacy McCains The re-education of David Brooks:

    The reason David Brooks is the White House’s favorite columnist is because, by the fraudulent pretense that he is a “conservative,” Brooks provides key assistance in the Democrats’ most essential mission: Obscuring truth.

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    Comments


    “Brooks is what you get when you send a weenie to an Ivy League school.”

    Sorry. University of Chicago.

    On the other hand … George Bush …

    RonClark:”If you want good discussions of what’s happening in Afghanistan … tune to the Rachael Maddow show. She’s been aggressively following the story for months, bringing on various analysts, reporters who have been on the ground – basically anyone with specific first hand knowledge of what’s going on”

    Sorry. I can’t get through Maddow’s show and spend very little time with either CNBC or MSNBC whichever she’s on.

    How about CNN and their running tally of American casualties in Iraq? How about the network news programs– you remember the networks right? NBC? ABC? CBS? Dan Rather and all that? How about the AP or their yahoo headlines? How about the national magazines? Time? Ever hear of that mag? The cover story is “The Economy and You: A Special Report” The entire March 9th issue has ZERO stories about Afghanistan. It’s gotta story about Iraq… Basra is still a mess and it’s Bush’s fault… but it’s getting better now.
    I didn’t watch CNBC or MSNBC when Bush was president but never was wanting for any details about Iraq then.

    RonClark: “If Afghanistan is being underreported – it’s certainly not because liberals want that. Obama’s decision to up the ante there is probably the thing he’s doing that’s most unsettling to many of us on the left.”

    I have very little care about what either liberals or conservatives want in the media. I am more concerned with what is in the media… and what is not.

    What is in the media is what is either forced into the media to the point where they can’t ignore it … or what essentially forwards a pro-consumerist/pro-corporate point of view.

    It’s not really rational to expect otherwise. The media is owned by large corporations, and while we would all like to think its primary function is to disseminate information, its primary function has become to attract viewers/listeners/readers so that they can be exposed to (a) news that the corporations want them to hear (thus, the huge amount of time on ABC News to promoting Disney vehicles, if you’ve ever noticed), and (b) advertisements that corporations pay them to air.

    They bought it, they own it. And I really can’t blame them. After all – as we are often told – a corporations primary responsibility is a fiscal responsibility to their shareholders. Thus its wholly in line with that charge to air news that expands their business and to try to make it as appealing as possible to the largest number of people so they can maximize ad revenues.

    RonClark: “What is in the media is what is either forced into the media to the point where they can’t ignore it … or what essentially forwards a pro-consumerist/pro-corporate point of view.”

    This is a far too simplistic outlook toward the media, especially news media. News editors and producers decide which stories they will pursue and to what degree. I remember a story on CNN regarding the rape camps in the Congo. While I and other people who take an interest in Africa were well aware of their existence for years beforehand, the media eventually told the story. It was not forced upon it. They could have ignored it (and did so for many years) but someone, somewhere within CNN decided it was important enough to be broadcast. And I don’t really see the rape camps as either pro-consumerist nor a pro/corporate story.

    The corporation’s agenda to make money is not the primary barrier to what is or is not in the media. It merely sets up bundaries that the media must work within. The interests, biases, and agendas of editors and producers are mostly what dictates what is or is not reported. If they think it is important and will attract viewers’ notice, they run it. The problem is if they believe that a story is against their agenda and if they can get away with ignoring it… Are we to expect the Disney overseer to make them run Afghanistan stories?

    This whole argument also completely ignores the “spin” that is put upon a story. I feel no need to go into that.

    RonClark: “They bought it, they own it. And I really can’t blame them. After all – as we are often told – a corporations primary responsibility is a fiscal responsibility to their shareholders. Thus its wholly in line with that charge to air news that expands their business and to try to make it as appealing as possible to the largest number of people so they can maximize ad revenues.”

    Yes, large, public corporations, such as the Disney example that you use, have a varied power base because of the sale and distribution of stock. And their first priority is to make money, not to control the media. As long as producers and editors continue to attract viewers, keeping the product valuable, they are left largely alone.

    It is ridiculous to believe that the reporters, producers, editors, and bascially every employee in the news divisions of the MSM are merely mindless pawns in a great corporate game. They all have their own individual beliefs, biases, agendas, etc. and as long as they don’t upset the apple cart they have a great deal of latitude and responsibility. If they are let go, they are replaced, once more, with a human being possessed of their own biases and not some sci-fi corporate clone.

    RonClark: “It’s not really rational to expect otherwise. The media is owned by large corporations, and while we would all like to think its primary function is to disseminate information, its primary function has become to attract viewers/listeners/readers so that they can be exposed to (a) news that the corporations want them to hear (thus, the huge amount of time on ABC News to promoting Disney vehicles, if you’ve ever noticed), and (b) advertisements that corporations pay them to air.”

    Yes, the news sells advertisements. But that is not the product that viewers are buying. They are not choosing to watch a news show based on what commercials will be run during it.

    Yes, it is unlikely that ABC will headline a story that makes Disney look bad… but NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox, not to mention all the print and radio media that is not associated with Disney will, if they feel it is worthy. Why would they not? Is Fox concerned about how Disney will look?

    You say that the media’s “primary function has become to attract viewers.” There is nothing new about the media’s role to attract viewers. Do you remember the days of yellow journalism and Hearst? Sensationalism?

    Modern corporate ownership is not the cause of the MSM’s fundamental flaws. It is a systemic problem having to do with the journalists outright abandonment of school-taught “journalistic integrity” Why this is happening is complex and unclear. But is not merely the fault of big corporations.

    Sorry for the length of this comment.


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