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Obama's use of government-created content and social media portends future relationships between media, president, says Politico

Politico highlighted the doubts about how often President Obama shoots skeet at Camp David to illustrate the administration's tight control over the commander-in-chief's image. Source: The White House

​Politico charged that President Barack Obama is a “master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House,” in an analysis that ran late Monday night, Feb. 18. In a time of contraction in the media market, Politico argued that the resulting power shift to the government was a “dangerous development.”

The political news website said that the Obama White House deftly combines tried-and-true public relations tactics with 21st century technology like social media to craft how the media portrays him and his administration. With innovations like government-created content and aggressive use of social media to communicate with voters, Politico’s analysis said that Obama’s press strategy would likely portend future administration’s relationships with the media. 

Politico highlighted government-created content released exclusively on social media, including photos and video, as a major shift away from the government’s dependence on the press to get out its message. Noting that cash-strapped media organizations often jump at the chance to use the images, Brooks Kraft, a contributing photographer for Time, told the website, “the White House has built its own content distribution network.”

And people trust it. A recent survey from George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management/ORI found that voters trust social media as much as legacy media organizations as a source for political news. Besides the closing credibility gap on social media, Obama’s public relations operation is better at getting his name out to voters. The same survey reported that more respondents saw news about Obama in their social media feeds than Republican nominee Mitt Romney. 

Politico’s analysis comes after a swell of criticism about how the White House handles the media and access to information. When the president took the oath of office for his second term in January 2013, the Committee to Protect Journalists called on Obama to reset his record on prosecuting whistleblowers and denying freedom of information requests. 

Earlier this month, the president’s administration came under fire for pressuring major newspapers in the United States, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, to withhold the location of a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia run by the Central Intelligence Agency, claiming the information was a “national security” concern

Soon after, The Washington Post reported that the president has gone years without giving an interview to the country’s largest newspapers, favoring television interviews conducted by non-political reporters on late night and day-time talk shows.

Last week, Obama defended the claim that his administration was the “most transparent in history.” The venue? A Google+ Hangout. 

Read the full analysis from Politico here


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