The New York Times, or, Cellophane, Mr. Cellophane

Here are some news organizations that are not The New York Times: PBS, CBS, NBC, The Washington Post, the blogosphere, ABC News.

I mention that in an attempt to explain an otherwise fairly inexplicable “White House Memo” in today’s Times—one that seems to try so hard to be counterintuitive that it loses itself in its own hall of mirrors. One that—wait for it—actually laments the fact that the president has been making himself particularly available to the media of late. Yes.

So…perhaps the memo is actually lamenting the fact that the president has been making himself available to media organizations that are not The New York Times? To wit, the following litany:

In the past four days, Mr. Obama gave “exclusive” interviews to Jim Lehrer of PBS, Katie Couric of CBS and Meredith Vieira of NBC. He gave two interviews to The Washington Post on one day, one to the editorial page editor and one to news reporters. He held a conference call with bloggers. His hourlong session in the East Room on Wednesday night was his second news conference of the day. And on Thursday, he invited Terry Moran of ABC to spend the day with him for a “Nightline” special.

Indeed. Rather than, say, acknowledge the obvious benefits of a president being not only willing, but eager, to talk to the media—in long-form interviews, no less, rather than glib sound bites—the article does its best, instead, to ironize openness.

The all-Obama, all-the-time carpet bombing of the news media represents a strategy by a White House seeking to deploy its most effective asset in service of its goals, none more critical now than health care legislation. But longtime Washington hands warn that saturation coverage can diminish the power of his voice and lose public attention.

And it goes on from there.

Now, it’s eminently fair to point out the obvious: that the president’s availability to the media serves a political function. Of course. But the political and the beneficial are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive. From the perspective of politics, Obama’s “carpet bombing of the news media” may be a gamble between publicity and overexposure. But from the the perspective of openness and information, that “carpet bombing” is a good thing for the American people. The paper of record has, here, focused on the former perspective. And that about says it all.

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Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.