Monday, August 11, 2008

Personal Asides: CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery’s Stirring Love Affair with Barack Obama…Carol Marin Does an Interview with Axelrod and—Voila!—Things Look Good for Obama After All!


Objective Coverage Old Hat.

Here is a published interview with CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery about Barack Obama contained in “Chicago Life” magazine political issue which was distributed with “The New York Times” yesterday (I stopped when he got to non-germane issues i.e. the legislature, Blagojevich, the admittedly weak state of the GOP).

In it you find a serious rupture of a newsman’s neutrality with a politician he covers. Notice the exhilaration that Obama was driving his own car, American-made and SMARTLY, too. Notice there are no leaks from inside the Obama campaign but there is no recognition of reported newsmen’s dissatisfaction with how they’re kept from the candidate. Nary a mention of that. Notice he predicts Obama will be president in 2006 and importunes him to invite him to the White House Christmas party, give him a sample Christmas tree ornament and allow a picture to be taken with Flannery’s kids. Any reasonable editor would see the inability of Flannery to be even-handed as result of this interview.

Now about this strange publication that Flannery has allowed himself to be interviewed by. It is obvious advertising material—in this case since it is a political issue, pro-Obama advertising. “The New York Times” labels it as an advertising supplement. But the supplement flaunts a strange demurrer of the “Times’” own legal disclaimer. Here is what the demurrer says:

“Although the legal disclaimer, “Advertising Supplement,” is printed on the cover and throughout Chicago Life, the magazine neither sells nor promises editorial [sic] to advertisers and keeps a strict separation between advertising and editorial. 45,900 copies of Chicago Life are distributed by The New York Times in the Chicago area.”

Which is it, fellas…”advertising supplement” which “The Times” calls yourself or your denal? It appears that “The Times” is right to label the stuff as advertising. It’s flagrant advertising for Obama whether paid for on the barrel-head or not. Item: The publication’s Publisher’s Letter, signed by one Pam Berns stresses “With Obama’s plan, Americans would never have to worry about being one illness away from financial devastation, like many are today” and concludes “In August, 2004, Chicago Life was the first glossy magazine to feature Barack Obama on the cover with an in-depth interview. He holds the future of many in his hands.” So much for objectivity.

Now to the portion of the interview on Obama with Flannery, as the Channel 2 political editor exults about the presidential candidate he has to cover. Notice that there is no mention of the fact that had the primary battle been conducted on a winner-take-all basis, Hillary Clinton, not Obama, would be the putative nominee today. No mention that the results were almost knife-edge close. No mention that Obama and McCain are almost dead even in the polls. But the damning portion is where Flannery lasciviously salves Obama as the next president…something that is the height of non-professional in journalism. Every day Mike Flannery continues to “cover” Obama is like a surrogate of David Axelrod being allowed to cover the news. Notice how the boyish enthusiasm of seeing Obama drive HIS OWN CAR in Peoria—an American make, too. SMARTLY! Get that! Here, then, is the portion of the interview where Flannery exults on Obama.

Q. You started covering Sen. Barack Obama when he was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996. What was he like then?

A. I met him in Springfield. He did stand out. He wasn’t one of the business guys down there. You know, there are a lot of Democrats and Republicans who are there, sort of, because it’s the family business—politics and government. The Columbia bachelor’s degree, the Harvard Law degree, it was clear he was a different kind of guy. And the attitude kined of was, what exactly are you doing here? And then also the fact that he’d written this book, which I unfortunately didn’t sit down and read until he was running for the U. S. Senate.

Q. What kind of candidate was he early on?

A. I remember the year before he announced [he was running] the U. S. Senate. I was in Peoria covering a story. I was interviewing the Peoria county Democratic party chairman at the Labor Temple and Obama pulls up, driving his own car, American-made, smartly. I heard that he was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate so we chatted for a while. He then revealed that he’d been traveling. He’d been on the road for days, driving himself around, meeting people all over southern and central Illinois. It struck me, this guy is really, really hungry. And also, he sees an opening. This is the Peter Fitzgerald seat and it’s clear that Fitz, being a Republican in an increasingly Democratic state, was going to have trouble getting reelected and Obama was one of many who saw the opening. And, of course, the rest is just well-known history.

Q. It was unusual that he’d written a book?

A. Oh yeah. The number of members of the Illinois General Assembly who’ve written and not had to self-publish their books, you could probably count them on one hand. There was a different feel to him. Conversations with different.

Q. How were your conversations with Obama different?

A. He had a different grasp, a bigger picture in mind. There was never a sense you get with a lot of them down there, feathering their own nest. You didn’t get that sense with him. He stood out. It was refreshing.

Q. Has he changed a lot?

A. He’s become a better speaker. He’s also now this world figure. When I went to East Africa with him in 2006, the moment I realized that he was absolutely an international figure, we were in downtown Nairobi and we went to the scene of the former U. S. embassy which was the first big al Qaeda bombing that took American lives. We went there with no advance noticeand just spontaneously, 25,000 to 30,000 people gathered at what’s now a memorial park. They started chanting in Swahili “Come to us Obama, come to us Obama.”

Q. Have you seen any other politician rise so quickly?

A. Nary a one. It’s unique in my experience.

Q. What’s made Obama so famous so fast?

A. The unique family story, what he refers to as his DNA, his biracial identity. He says he couldn’t be a racist—it’s in his DNA. Afer he became the editor of the Harvard Law Review, as I understand it, a publishing house approached him and said, “Why don’t you write your life story?” So that’s when he did the book “Dreams from My Father.” He has the bio that lets him be different things to different people. He, himself, says he’s the slate onto which people project what they want to see.

Q . How do you think the Obama campaign’s been run?

A. It’s been brilliant. It’s been disciplined. Whatever bellyaching or unhappiness there’s been stays inside the campaign. They had the great benefit of running against candidates who, including the presumably prohibitive frontrunner, grotesquely underestimated Obama. They really didn’t see until the voting was done that he was taking off and even then, they weren’t very effective in countering his camp.

Q. What made the campaign so smart?

A. [Obama’s] campaign studied the rules. They understood caucuses are driven by a cadre of activists. They saw the opening that alla those caucuses gave them, even in states like North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, in places where Hillary wasn’t paying any attention. That provided him with the margin of victory. Texas was the classic case. She won by several percentage points the Texas primary but that same night there was a caucus. After the caucus was done, he ended up getting more delegates from Texas. He also won those overwhelmingly black districts and the rules of the party give bonuses to congressional districts and to states that have voted Democratic in the past. The Obama campaign understood more than Hillary did that the Democratic caucuse system is not one man, one woman, one vote. It has all these wrinkles.

Q. It’s been reported that the Obama campaign correctly predicted the outcome of each primary and caucus. What do you make of that?

A. That was [Obama Campaign Manager] David Plouffe. The guy’s a genius. Maybe a few days afer Iowa, maybe it was the night of New Hampshire, Plouffe was spotted in Raleigh, North Carolina, meeting with people there, putting an infrastructure in place, preparing to fund an effort in Carolina. And that, of course, is when it was the Indiana/North Carolina night when Tim Russert famously said, “We now know who the Democratic nominee in going to be.”

Q. Why haven’t we heard many leaks from the Obama campaign?

A. It helps that you’re a newcomer. Hillary was surrounded by all those p;eople who’d been around 20 to 30 years, who were part of the Washington game and had their own relationships with reporters. A lot of the Obama people didn’t have that. And she started to lose. I talked today to Patti Solis Doyle and I asked her about being scapegoated and she was telling me how hurtful, how painful it was. That goof Mark Penn was trying to sell reporters that ait was Patti Solis Doyle who’d run through the 150 million bucks and that Bill and Hillary were just innocent bystanders, out on the road, working their little tails off, as Patti is spending like a drunken campaign worker. The reason they put her in as campaign manager is because the two of them wanted to be campaign manager. Hillary was such a control freak. A lot of serious s and severe mistakes.

Q. What made Obama decide to run now?

A. Once Obama saw that dynamic—he saw a field of bunch of white guys and a white woman—he saw he could maneuver to be the last man standing. Let’s go back to the summer of `06, going to Democratic Senator Tom Harkin’s steak fry in Indianola, Iowa , on the county fairgrounds and Obama was the star of the show. Huge crowd, people begging him to run. It was clear that something was happening in Iowa.

Q. Did you believe that he’d end up running?

A. Yeah. After he won the primary for U.S. Senate in March of `04, two or three days later, I said, “Barack, all I want is an invitation to the White House Christmas party. And when you give out the Christmas tree ornament, I just want you to sign the box with the ornament and pose for a picture with my kids.” He said he would so I’m going to have to hold him to that.

Carol Marin Covers Obama—Interviewing Axelrod!

While other journalists including “The New York Times’” political staff express worry of Obama strategists about the close polls between Obama and John McCain, the “Sun-Times’” ace political analyst Carol Marin decides to find out. And she goes to none other than David Axelrod for the answer. Her conclusion in yesterday’s paper:

“What does it mean? Next to nothing. And Obama’s team not only knows it, it thrives on it.”

I remind you that Marin is a one-person monopoly of pro-Obama journalism in Chicago. She is (a) political columnist for the “Sun-Times.” (b) political reporter for NBC-TV channel 5 and (c) political interviewer on “Chicago Tonight” on WTTW-TV public television.

Between Flannery and Marin this is one good reason why the national networks have scooped the locals on Obama’s minister and other disadvantages of the Obama candidacy.

The flagrantly pro-Obama p.r. campaign masquerading as news involves two major city journalists…Flannery and Marin….being hand-fed by David Axelrod and echoing faithfully the Democratic party line.

And it is a journalistic scandal.

1 comment:

  1. Why doesn't McCain's history bother you?

    Have you no respect for marriage?