Michael Calderone has an article laying out how much the Obama Administration has cozied up to the New York Times.
But for all its new media airs, the new White House team remains in the thrall of perhaps the most emblematic old media institution of all.
Senior Obama officials during the transition posed for Times Sunday Magazine portraits and then opened the doors again with top-level access for another major magazine piece this month on health care. Midlevel officials cooperate for Times profiles detailing their key behind-the-scenes roles.
Even routine news stories buried deep inside the A-section of the Times often quote high-level sources speaking both on and off the record.
One part of Obama’s Times fixation is strategy. For all the proliferation of news outlets, Obama aides believe the paper still has an outsize ability to shape perceptions among political elites and other journalists.
To a degree, Calderone has a point. The Obama Administration is happy to pitch big stories to the NYT. And even more disturbingly, the NYT is willing to defer to the Administration on difficult stories.
Mark my words. Within short order, we will learn that the NYT is showing the deference for Obama as they showed in October 2004, when they delayed the warrantless wiretap story.
But Jeebus! Calderone is nuts if he believes that the Bush Administration wasn’t, similarly, in bed with the Gray Lady!
In addition to the delay of the warrantless wiretap story–which might well have made the difference in getting Bush re-elected, who can forget Judy Miller?!?!?!?
With Judy Miller, the Bush White House had a full time mouthpiece at the NYT, with weekly laundered leaks of highly classified (and often, false) information attributed to Senior Administration Officials. And that mouthpiece went on to knowingly shield Scooter Libby–and with him, Dick Cheney–from criminal liability for leaking Valerie Plame’s identity.
And it’s not like the NYT has given up its habit of sleeping with high-powered types, of both parties. It was less than a month ago, after all, that the NYT allowed dead-enders to have their way with her front page to claim that 1 in 7 of those released from Gitmo were "recidivists"–just in time to scare the Senate out of funding the closure of Gitmo. Does Calderone think that that very obliging story–which set back Obama’s plan to close Gitmo significantly–was part of this burgeoning affair between the Obama Administration and the Gray Lady?
And the NYT’s egregious spin on the Comey emails, in what appears to have been a successful attempt to pre-empt the OPR report? Has Calderone missed the clear fingerprints of Dick Cheney and Steven Bradbury all over the Gray Lady’s Sunday gown?
Obama is certainly wooing the Gray Lady (though not necessarily any more than he’s wooing–say–NBC). But he’s not the only one–Bush’s dead-enders still can’t give up their Gray Lady habit. And she seems content to be a willing mistress to serve all those both in and out of power.