In a recent interview with Accuracy in Media, Richard Benedetto, a retired White House correspondent and columnist for USA Today, said that “the media have been a huge factor in President Obama maintaining the job approval rating that is not at 50%, but just a little bit below. I think he works very hard at courting that,” said Benedetto. “He knows how the media cover him. He takes full advantage of it. He makes sure that he’s out there all the time—and that’s part of the game.”
Benedetto was part of the White House press corps from Presidents Reagan through George W. Bush, and covered every presidential campaign over that period since 1984, and every national political convention since 1972. He teaches courses on politics and elections at American University, and still writes commentary, most recently for Real Clear Politics, The Washington Times, and Politico. He is also the author of Politicians Are People, Too, which was published in 2006.
Benedetto describes the media today as being “so far to the Left that if you just try to be fair, and say, to do a certain thing, ‘Let’s be fair, let’s cover this fairly,’ or ‘Let’s analyze this objectively,’ you run the risk of being accused of being a Right-winger.”
Regarding how the Obama administration deals with the press, he said, “reporters who write tough stories are hit pretty hard by insiders in the administration. Therefore, they run the risk of being cut off. This is an administration that knows very well how to work the press, and reward those who they like by giving them leaks and inside information—naturally, spun the way they want it to be spun in hopes of getting out the story out that they want to get out.”
Richard Benedetto was also an eyewitness to the American Airlines plane that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, and he described for us exactly what he saw and did that day.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Benedetto said that he doesn’t believe that respect around the globe for America has increased under the Obama administration, and that support for the war in Afghanistan has dropped significantly during that period. He also believes that Obama has “repeatedly divided the nation and helped create resentment between classes.” Below are excerpts from the interview, which took place on April 12th. You can read the transcript or listen to the complete interview here.
Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.