President Obama during an interview with the Associated Press last year.
Associated Press/Photo by Carolyn Kaster
President Obama during an interview with the Associated Press last year.

Obama’s lapdogs


If you seek a delightfully written article on politics, look at yesterday’s Washington Free Beacon, an 18-month-old online newspaper. Editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti examined a recent New York Times interview of Barack Obama not for its news content—there was none—but for how “it reveals the mentalities of the participants.”

Continetti backs up his claim by parsing a key section:

“… when the president mentions someone he’s been talking to. ‘I had a conversation a couple of weeks back with Robert Putnam,’ Obama says, ‘who I’ve known for a long time.’ Putnam is a renowned sociologist, and the ability to drop his name is a requirement for membership in elite circles. What makes this name-drop special is that Obama not only assumes the reporters know who Putnam is, he amplifies his snobbery by mentioning that the author of Bowling Alone and American Grace has been a personal acquaintance for years, as though that in itself is an achievement.”

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Then comes an attempted one-upsmanship:

“One of the Times reporters, Michael D. Shear, interrupts the president and says what has to be one of the most beautiful and revealing sentences ever to appear on Nytimes.com: ‘He was my professor actually at Harvard.’ Almost every word of this sentence is an act of social positioning worthy of Castiglione. ‘My’ conveys ownership, possession, and intimacy … suggesting that Shear … is on closer terms with [Putnam] than the president of the United States of America; and of course the big H, “Harvard,” before whose authority all must bow down.”

But Obama wins:

“The president’s response is just as priceless. ‘Right,’ he says, pausing, and one can easily imagine the look of annoyance on his face as he reacts to Shear’s gratuitous lunge into the spotlight. He then makes it clear exactly who is in charge. ‘I actually knew Bob’—note that it’s ‘Bob’ we’re talking about now—‘when I was a state senator and he had put together this seminar to just talk about some of the themes that he had written about in Bowling Alone,’ the weakening of the community fabric and the impact it’s having on people. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mike.”

Continetti goes on to show how the reporters’ kiss-up questions “provide the president an opportunity to attack the GOP and restate his accomplishments and goals.” The journalistic lap dogs don’t ask about any of the Obama administration’s migraines: Lois Lerner, James Rosen, Mohamed Morsi, Bashar Assad, Nouri al-Maliki, Vladimir Putin, or Hamid Karzai. Why not? “Perhaps readers of the Times and writers of the Times and editors of the Times are not interested in information per se. What interests them is affirmation.”

The article’s conclusion:

“‘Thanks, guys. Appreciate you,’ the president says as the reporters leave the room. Of that I have no doubt.”

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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