Revolutions are rarely undone from the outside. Mostly they come apart from the inside as the forty thieves descend into petty squabbling over the loot.
The loot comes in different forms, but at its core it is always power. It may be the power to kill or to steal. It may be the power to claim a nice piece of real estate or to send a million people off to their deaths. The scale of it will occupy historians and shock the people of the future who leaf through the history books and walk through the silent museums, but it is all of one piece. The purpose of power, as a fellow in a little book by George Orwell once said, is power.
The quarrel between Obama and the Media is largely a lovers’ quarrel, but the love is only there on one side. The media made Obama what he is. But what he is, among many other things, is a control freak spawned by a political ideology that distrusts everyone and consolidates power at all cost.
The media loved Obama, but it discovered early on that he did not love it back. Instead of basking in the adoration of the Candy Crowleys and the Anderson Coopers and the massive corporate machines behind them, the love child of every liberal fantasy shut them out, rigidly controlled their access and ruthlessly punished unauthorized conversations with the press.
The media had made Obama into a tin god, but were constantly suspected of heresy. Instead of being rewarded for their loyalty, they were kept at arm’s length.
Obama Inc. knew that their biggest asset was the narrative. A close study of Obama’s qualifications or accomplishments would have given no conceivable reason for voting for him. The only thing he brought to the table was race and even in this he was less qualified than most of the black men who had run for president.
The narrative was the dearest treasure of Obama Inc. It was the one thing that its cronies protected. The economy could tank, wars could be lost and an asteroid could smack into the Pacific Ocean and none of it mattered nearly as much as the golden narrative. They didn’t trust anyone with it including the media.
The media these days doesn’t have much. Its numbers are bad in every medium from the tube to the inky pages of newsprint to the crackling AM radio waves. It isn’t very profitable. Often it’s a dead weight. But it wields a great deal of institutional power. The New York Times and CNN may both be dogs when it comes to the balance sheets, but owning either one gives you an impressive amount of heft in the national dialogue; though not as much as working for one of them does.
Power is all that the media has. Its power is projected in a fairly narrow circle. Fewer people are reading, watching and listening to it, so its circle becomes more incestuous. Everyone has learned to act like a member of the D.C. press corps, interpreting events through the lens of old West Wing episodes. The resulting noise reaches fewer people, but helps form the shaky consensus on which the institutional power of the media stands.
In its dying hour, the media used that power to ensure the double coronation of a corrupt Chicago politician with a facility for mimicking speech patterns. And that politician rewarded it by trying to bypass it and set up his own media.
Obama’s vision of the proper place of the media isn’t just at his feet, but under his control. Instead of dealing with the media, he has tried to cut it out of the loop by putting a larger emphasis on social media and developing narratives through think-tanks and media influencing groups. It was a power struggle that the media was initially baffled by. It had held out an ice cream cone to the little boy, only to have the little boy kick it in the shin, grab the ice cream cone and run away.
For years the media had groused about a lack of transparency, the unprecedented prosecution of whistleblowers and the hostile relationship between Obama Inc’s minions and many reporters. The grousing was usually understated. It could be mentioned offhand, but not too loudly. When Bob Woodward made the mistake of speaking his mind, he was swiftly punished for it by the avatars of the post-media media, while the old media sat silently and watched the show.