So it was interesting – in a slow down and get a good look at the media wreck by the side of the highway kind of way – watching the Malia-Obama-Goes-to-Mexico story getting scrubbed off newspaper sites the other day. My daughter was actually surfing the intertubules that afternoon, noticed how the story was there and gone again, in the blink of an eye: ‘Hey, there’s another Obama vay-cay, how many weeks since the last one? Whoops!’ Quite honestly, we had never seen the like; a news story appearing and disappearing like that, and I thought at first that maybe a couple of newspapers had fallen for a fake story and then withdrawn it almost at once. But no … it was was a genuine story, and massively-withdrawn almost as soon as it was posted here, there and almost everywhere. Never mind about the wisdom of a middle-school field trip to Mexico, at a time when civil order in the place is practically melting down. Never mind the irresponsibility of letting your child go on that trip, although I’ll bet there was a significant amount of whining involved. “Mooo-o-o-mmm! Daaaaaaddy! All my friends are going to Oaxaca, why can’t I?” Never mind the optics of yet another splashy ghetto-fabulous Obama family excursion at a time when gas is closing in on $5.00 a gallon, and their last splashy family holiday was just a month ago. Nope, I’ll leave Obama family dynamics strictly alone, although my daughter notices that lately the oldest Obama princess does look increasingly sullen when caught in un-posed random pictures.
No, what worries me more is the very concept of the disappearing-at-the-request-of-the-White-House aspect of it. I can easily understand keeping a subterranean profile; tight media black-out, utmost discretion on the part of everyone involved, to the point of keeping Malia Obama’s presence on the trip to a need-to-know basis only … but walking back on the story when it is already out there? Requesting that a whole range of on-line media outlets memory-hole a news story within minutes of posting? Shades of Stalinists air-brushing suddenly-disgraced public figures out of archives and the encyclopedia. Here I thought that Orwell’s 1984 was merely dystopian fiction, not a bloody how-to manual, but obviously I have been misinformed. This was a clumsy effort, no doubt about it; enough people like my daughter noticed, and noticed enough to make at least a medium-sized kerfuffle about it. Increasingly, this administration is gaining notoriety in libertarian-small-government-conservo-Tea-Party circle for clumsy kerfuffles, which is a good thing, obviously, if they kerfuffle themselves right out of the White House.
To me, it’s just another big fat reason to hold the legacy media establishment in contempt. Maybe they weren’t ever all fearless, dedicated Ed Murrow types, and they’ve been coasting on reputation ever since Watergate, but after a long list of accidents and incidents – the affair of the Danish Motoons o’Doom, Dan Rather and the fraudulent TANG memo, CNN pulling their journalistic punches to maintain a bureau in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein, the Journo-Listers agreeing privately to slant the news and editorials, the White House press corps functioning more as the administration’s public affairs office … I shouldn’t really have been that surprised to see that the newsmaking machinery can be manipulated after the fact of publication as well as before. I just didn’t think they would be that blatant about it.
Which brings up the uncomfortable thought – how often has a story been effectively memory-holed in the mainstream American and British press … without anyone taking notice at all?
12 thoughts on “The Press Lords and the Memory Hole”
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Well, there was the sinking of the HMT Rohna during WWII in which the lives of over 1,000 servicemen were lost. I wouldn’t think it possible, but the U.S. Military managed to keep that tragedy a secret for over fifty years.
Hi, John – I can sorta comprehend keeping occurances like the Rohna under wraps during wartime – like the disaster at Slapton Sands during a rehearsal for D-Day, and the conditions of the Bataan Death March, for another, under the rubric of not causing alarm and despondency, or for reasons of operations security … but going on keeping matters under wraps post-war?
Letting a story get out there, into moderatly-wide circulation (for the internet never forgets!) and THEN calling for supression? That’s new to me.
…and turn the story around.
If it had been Bush’s daughter I suspect their attitude would be “The people have a right to know”
Or am I too cynical? ;-)
Indeed, down the memory hole it goes. What struck me about the story was the disconnect the Obama’s have from good sense in letting their 13 year old vacation in a dangerous southern Mexico. It was appallingly stupid.
The tacky provincial nature of the newly rich, I suppose. The Beverly Hillbillies move to Washington. The money spent on security in itself and the resultant criticism, one supposes, would have resulted in Mr. Obama (who, I’ve heard, is politically savvy) just saying “no” to his eldest daughter. The idea of the first family setting a standard of rectitude and an example of usefulness to the rest of the country, is apparently, passe. Finally, to let a 13 year old, even the most mature 13 year old, out of your parental care is a bad idea. It is irresponsible because 13 year kids are unpredictable creatures.
Bill – in this century, you can never be too cynical!
Tyouth – Tacky, provincial and newly rich … but at least the Beverly Hillbillies were nice, decent people! The Obamas are just tacky, provincial and flashy.
I think – the difference between now and WW2 was that during WW2 most newspaper people regarded themselves as Americans first. Interesting story of how the Japanese codes were broken (there were actually 2 – one diplomatic and one military) – the knowledge of which enabled us to get some surprise at Midway.
As I recall some newspaperman got wind of this and with Roosevelt’s request, did not publish this information.
Contrast this with today where some years ago the NYT published information – gathered from the NSA I presume – of our ability to track OBL’s location by his satellite phone.
Once this was published of course al Queda people stopped using the phones and resorted to a system of personal messengers.
Public’s “right to know”?
Point is these days the MSM prints – or withholds – news based on their own political desires – not what helps – or hurts – the country’s national interest.
An additional thought. Not only American news sources, but also foreign ones made their stories vanish. The Brit TELEGRAPH, the Aussie TIMES, a couple of Canadian papers submitted to MINITRU.
If I may, I asked a few questions over at PJMedia. If reposting it is not allowed, delete this entry.
The Beverly Hillbillies apparently owned the land from which came a-bubbling crude. The Obama clan apparently owns nothing at all, but are “stakeholders” in everything and thereby control whatever is needed to make a heaven of this squalid earth.
The first I heard of the vacation was a request from Pres. Obama to the Mexican press not to take pictures of his daughter. I doubt the White House will be able to pull back coverage of the story down here, if for no other reason than that the Mexican fourth estate is just too disorganized to memory hole..
I think it was Instapundit that noted that this is a case of the media protecting one of their own class (as defined by Codevilla). Of course, Bush was never one of this class, so his daughters were fair game.
I can’t get over how a 13 year old gets to go on spring break, period. This was unheard of during my youth (way back in ye olden 1970s). Also, I never dreamed of asking my parents to pay for spring break in H.S. or in college – I knew they were shelling out good cash for my education, so I thought I’d be a massive ingrate to ask them for a paid vacation to boot.
How there is not more reporting on this? Are there no publication bans in place? Are they being prevented from reporting that they had to pull the story?
This disappeared down the rat hole way too quick.
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