The Woodward Affair

by NORMAN POLLACK

Today’s New York Times (Mar. 1) carried the story of veteran Post reporter Bob Woodward’s apparent fracas with the White House over his criticism that Obama changed the goal posts in the debate over the so-called budget crisis.  The collective wisdom of media and NYT posters is that Woodward overreacted, and that the White House beat is always full of clashes.  Score another free pass for the Obama camp!  Republicans were quick to jump on the Woodward bandwagon, if only to score points against the administration.  (Their own integrity, whether on freedom of the press or civil liberties in general, is hardly any better.)

The truth is, Obama by his actions has repudiated the principle of a free press, a free government, freedom in about every dimension (victims evaporated in drone strikes hardly were extended the basic juridical freedoms of due process and rule of law) one can think of—far more dangerous, because of cunning sophistication, than the Bush/Cheney cowboys whose pernicious actions were always and easily detectable.  Woodward, here, has unfortunately papered over the event—the warning that the White House would be out to get him—rather than expose the stale, canned, vicious erection of WALLS against any and all criticisms of Obama.  Given his disdain of and hostility toward critics, Obama reveals the kind of unstable personality that makes him dangerous, whether in domestic policy (Espionage Act prosecutions against whistleblowers, Bradley Manning being only the most visible case) or foreign policy (aggressive moves via the Asia “pivot” toward China, modernization of nuclear weaponry, or the morally reprehensible policy of targeted assassination).

News management is the tip of the iceberg, and itself is interconnected with the increase of Executive Power, the use of covert operations, the warmth shown the intelligence community, the employment of JSOC (often in partnership with the CIA), and even these become the tip of the iceberg for for the Obama transformative moment—no, not a belief in democratic change, but instead, the very real militarization of the social framework, from political economy to social structure, for purposes unclear even to himself: more power, of course, but beyond that, systemic change consonant with such power.

Woodward will let the matter rest.  We should not.  The disguise must be torn away, revealing how liberalism in America shares precisely the same retrograde features as its purported enemies, not least, the blind admiration of wealth, the despisement of the poor, the fear of self-criticism as a nation, the belief that America can act with impunity in world affairs.  Here follows my New York Times  Comment (Mar. 1) on the Woodward news article.

[NYT Comment, Mar. 1.  Access trumps truthful reporting.]

There is more to this than meets the eye. First, how claim press freedom when Obama has condemned transparency by his actions, is obsessed with SECRECY, and builds on the trend toward the National Security State? Your posters hide the facts in order to protect him. Woodward, I’m sure, can take care of himself. But the public has been condemned to ignorance on every meaningful issue, starting with armed drones for targeted assassination.

The White House has a rotten record under Obama in its forceful efforts at NEWS MANAGEMENT. I fear the press has buckled (including all media), lest they be denied access to their sources. Access has trumped candid, truthful reporting. One common example, when Cornel West called Obama “the black mascot of Wall Street,” Valerie Jarrett was dispatched to chastise him.

I, for one, am disgusted with the Obama public relations JUGGERNAUT, the fear he has struck into what had previously been responsible journalism. Yes, Republicans want to make hay out of the Woodward business, but in this case they are right. Obama has one foot solidly planted in totalitarian territory. I’m waiting for the other foot also to cross the line.

Norman Pollack is the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University.

Norman Pollack has written on Populism. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece
Jeffrey R. Wilson
“It Started Like a Guilty Thing”: the Beginning of Hamlet and the Beginning of Modern Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Star Whores: John McCain, the Apache and the Battle to Save Mt. Graham
Pepe Escobar
The Eurasian Big Bang: How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
Charles Larson
The USA as a Failed State: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Robert Fantina
Israel and “Self-Defense”
John W. Whitehead
The American Nightmare: the Tyranny of the Criminal Justice System
Leonidas Vatikiotis
Rupture With the EU: a Return to the Cave Age or a New Golden Age for Greece?
Murray Dobbin
Harper is Finally Right: the Canadian Election is About Security Versus Risk
Brian Cloughley
Meet General Joseph Dunford: a Real Threat to World Peace
Manuel García, Jr.
The Trump Surge and the American Psyche
Pete Dolack
We May Have Already Committed Ourselves to 6-Meter Sea-Level Rise
Eric Draitser
US Targets Venezuela Using Border Dispute as Pretext
Michael Barker
The Challenge to Labour and Tory Extremism
Robert Hunziker
America’s Purple Politics
Ishmael Bishop
Decentering Whiteness in the Wake of a North Carolina Tragedy
Chad Nelson
Something About Carly: Fiorina and the Professional Political Class