Was the campaign of Democratiic presumptive Presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama sending a publication — and perhaps the press in general — a petulant or hard-ball message? Or was it strictly coincidence?
And if it is to explained and dismissed by some as a coincidence is it as believable as being a coincidence in the political world as to the weekend clarification through a spokesman (a U.S. military spokesman…after the White House called Baghdad) of Iraq Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s comments about favoring Obama’s withdrawal timetable?
No matter what, the Politico reports something that won’t help the Obama campaign in its future press relations since it shows either a)short-sighted, stumbling staffing or b)counter productive political vindictiveness:
Forty journalists, including such leading correspondents as Dan Balz of The Washington Post, will be aboard his plane for next week’s swing through Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England.
The campaign received 200 requests for press seats on the plane.
Among those for whom there was no room was Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent of The New Yorker. The campaign, which was furious about the magazine’s satirical cover this week, cited space constraints in turning him away.
No matter what, this incident is already raising some press eyebrows:
There’s probably no connection whatsoever.
But the New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, whose long, long article on Barack Obama’s early political days in Chicago’s ward politics (available here) was the reason for the magazine’s controversial cover by Barry Blitt depicting Obama as a Muslim, has been barred from traveling with Obama on his foreign field trip this week.
…..More than 200 media folks applied to fly in Europe with the freshman senator. But, alas, the Obama campaign said it simply was not able to find a seat for Lizza.
Now, that’s Chicago politics.
In a MUST READ, The Huffington Post looks at an incident that could contain the seeds of a future political boomerang. Here are two key portions:
Wow. So it’s gonna be like that, is it? Retribution for unfavorable coverage is a chilling thing to contemplate — literally, as in, it carries with it the very real risk of chilling bold, outspoken coverage. Whatever one thinks of the New Yorker cover — that it was clear satire that clearly lampooned ridiculous rumors, that it went way overboard, that it was a comedic misfire — a robust press can’t operate under threat of reprisal for unwelcome items.
Yes, I know, it happens every day (and, some would argue, pretty much every day of the last eight years). Even so, it sends a clear — and worrisome — signal from the Obama campaign: If we don’t like it, man, will you know it. (And presumably it will hurt, like being excluded from The Trip Of The Century is surely meant to do.) Adulatory Rolling Stone covers beget adulatory Rolling Stone covers — with interviews, and that goes double for Newsweek (that’s literally; yesterday on Reliable Sources, Howie Kurtz counted five of them). But otherwise, should the media fear a freeze-out?
And the long, required reading piece ends this way:
According to a Chicago pol interviewed by Lizza, he earned a reputation that “‘you’re not going to punk me, you’re not going to roll me over, you’re not going to jam me.’” That seems to be the message the Obama campaign was sending here.
Or maybe, like Ari Fleischer once warned, they would just like people to watch what they say.
If this was mere happenstance, then it’s an example of poor and short-sighted staffing. If this was unintentional, it gives the appearance of payback and shows the kind of sloppy staffwork that can sink campaigns — and that the Obama campaign has notably not shown in the past.
If it was no coincidence, then it shows the Obama campaign is going to throw down the gauntlet to news organizations that run items that create big political problems. That would mean the Obama operation may face a rocky road if Obama wins, since this kind of tactic does not portend smooth press relations. If it was sending the New Yorker a message, editors all over the country will look at it and be determined not to be intimidated if they have something the Obama camp doesn’t like during the campaign or if Obama wins the White House.
But to many, this being coincidental will likely to be seem to be to coincidences as Maliki’s insistence through a spokesman more than 12 hours after the fact and after a call from the Bush administration that Der Speigel misquoted him: it flunks both the smell and the logic tests. And cover story explanations, even those passionately echoed by axe-to-grind partisans, won’t erase the conclusion.
Some partisans will invariably say: “Well, this happens under Bush..”
And then talk about change.