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Monday, February 25, 2013

What Traditional Media's White House Tiger Woods Tantrum Signifies

Traditional media outlets have complained loud and long over the weekend because the White House did not release a photo of a recent golf game the President played with world-champion but not nice guy Tiger Woods. About this I have a few observations to make, about none of which I claim anything like ferocious insight or originality.

First, when traditional media outlets or Fox News' Ed Henry go on defensively to claim that their sordid little tantrum actually matters because the possibly slightly scandalous gossip-column photo they crave but were denied is a symptom of a larger openness problem that also eventually connects to conspicuously important issues like the Obama Administration's secrecy and deceptions about extrajudicial assassination by aerial drones, it is important to remember that if these traditional media outlets or Fox News' Ed Henry wanted to raise a ruckus about the Obama Administration's secrecy and deceptions about extrajudicial assassination by aerial drones they actually could and should have done this but mostly have not done this at all while they are indeed raising their ruckus over the possibly slightly scandalous gossip-column photo of the President with Tiger Woods.

Second, when in connection to their current fit of pique over their denied photo-op traditional media outlets go on to castigate the terrible hypocrisy of the Obama Administration because it once promised to be one of the most "transparent" administrations in modern history, it is important to remember that the disintegrating audience share of traditional media outlets coupled with the proliferation of social and specialized media outlets has sufficiently transformed the media terrain that providing less access to traditional media and more access to emerging media formations may indeed represent increased aggregate access and transparency even if traditional media outlets do not experience it that way nor want to testify to their recognition of the implications of that fact.

Third, these observations are importantly related, since BOTH the White House's rather unprecedented media access policy priorities AS WELL AS the fact that it was the denial to traditional media outlets of a salacious photo-op rather than the truly significant and dangerous secrecy about extrajudicial assassination and drones that provoked their outrage, reflect exactly the same calculation in the face of the recognition of exactly the same changed media terrain. The White House has limited time to devote to making its case to the public and is providing access in ways that reflect their accurate assessment of where the audience they need to reach to achieve their policies are most reachable. And traditional media outlets seeking to retain audience share in the face of competition from social and specialized media are remaking themselves ever more in the image of those social and specialized media formations, satisfying shrinking but reliable audience expectations through superficial pseudo-analysis that ignore troubling evidence, contrary cases, and contending stakeholders in their existing diversity, while consoling and amplifying their prejudices through interminable scandal-mongering.

Again, I wouldn't claim these are exactly original or incisive observations, but certainly they do not seem to me to be the prevailing terms through which this idiotic brouhaha are being adjudicated. Meanwhile, I'm still swamped with elaborate exhausting moving preparations and this notional genuflection toward an actual daily blogging practice is the best I can manage for now.

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