This post is about Barack Obama's meeting with a group of black journalists and bloggers this week at the White House.
As reported at Real Clear Politics, Obama caused some controversy by suggesting that these black journalists and bloggers could play an important role is getting Obama's message out to the black community, because the black community does not watch shows like Meet the Press:
"The media is changing so rapidly that websites, like you guys do every day, do two things. Number one, it allows us to reach audiences that may not be watching Meet The Press. I’m just saying, it might be a different demographic."
While I understand why, in this media environment, such a statement would get all the attention, far more important is why Obama felt the need to meet with a group comprised only of black journalists and bloggers.
The reason is pretty clear. Obama wanted to use the issue of race to mold the coverage by this group in a way favorable to Obama's agenda, and providing access to the White House and to Obama was one way of achieving this goal.
As reported by The New York Times:
The black blogosphere, [Obama] added, was a crucial medium through which the White House could covey its message and get feedback from the black community.According to The Times, as least some of the participants saw Obama's approach for what it was:
“Part of what’s so powerful about the Web is that it’s not just a one way conversation. And what that then means is we have the capacity potentially to get information about how people are thinking, what their concerns are, what’s working, what’s not in the way that allows us to do our job better,” he said, adding, “We’re very excited about the possibility of our interaction.”
The blog Jack and Jill Politics, which bills itself as a having “a black bourgeoisie perspective,” wrote that Valerie Jarrett committed to having more meetings with black bloggers.
Jack and Jill Politics also wrote about the feeling among some who attended Monday’s gathering that they were being used for political expediency. “We essentially told the White House that we are not willing to be ‘pimped,’” the blog said. “Oh, we used better articulation, but it was direct and could not be taken out of context, misunderstood or ignored.The problem with this meeting goes deeper than Obama's quotable but not all that significant quip about Meet The Press, or any feelings of being "pimped."
First let me say what I think the situation is not. I don't view this as "racism," as some have suggested by asserting, in substance, "What if Bush had a meeting only with white journalists and bloggers."
I also don't think there is anything wrong with black journalists and bloggers self-associating -- although I think they lose a great deal of credibility when they put a racial modifier before their trade description and use that modifier to gain access they otherwise would not have.
The real problem here is the problem that has existed since the early days of Obama's campaign.
Obama relentlessly uses the issue of race to his political advantage, even as he professes to be doing just the opposite, and thereby divides rather than unites the country.
While these black journalists and bloggers may have thought they were gaining access and input, in fact they were being played like cards in a greater game, by someone far more experienced and sharp.
"Race" As Political Weapon
An Allergic Reaction To The Race Card
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