All Things Media: an Open Letter to the Media -- Give Me (Him) a Break

President Barack Obama meets with advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Aug. 4, 2014.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama meets with advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Aug. 4, 2014.

Dear media,

Really? I mean, come on.

I get it. President Obama is an easy mark. He is not exactly riding a wave of adulation at the moment. There are legitimate questions about how his team is handling an array of the tumultuous issues that have made this summer anything but lazy.

These issues have not been easy: from the domestic maelstrom of Ferguson and the coming water wars of the West to the monstrous Islamic State that has now defined itself in its barbaric murder of Jim Foley, the unrepentant would-be Soviet-reconstituter Vladimir Putin, the embarrassment and neutering of the Secretary of State over Gaza and an Afghanistan that seems poised to fall even further apart if that were possible.

So, I say again: really?

I understand that news organizations pay a lot of money to camp their staff out on Martha’s Vineyard to cover the President. They have to. A news executive once described covering the President around the clock: “It is a death watch. We have to be there just in case he dies.” They also have to justify that expense by actually covering the President when his staff decides he should break from his much needed vacation to make news.

But . . . really?

There are, indeed, those who have problems with everything this President does -- from policy to his simply being President. Whatever your political stripe, there are legitimate issues that deserve to be raised.

But this has now gotten silly.

After the President delivered his clearly heartfelt remarks about Foley (Could anyone actually feign anything in response to that barbarism?), major news organizations reported that Obama was back on the golf course barely 20 minutes later. Then, Twitter took over. Implied: could this man be so heartless to talk about this death and then go share a few chuckles on the links? What a monster!

CNN even had five minutes of silent footage from a distance of the President playing with three others. And look: he was chuckling and taking a few swings.

Wherever you stand, this is ridiculous. And it is unfair.

Look at Obama’s hair. It has gone white. ATM would suggest that nobody other than another former President can comprehend the stress of that job. I am actually glad my President (any President) is trying to get away for at least a few days. If that means pretending there is nothing but an infuriating white ball for a few hours, ATM wishes him well.

While the President has forfeited just about all rights to privacy outside an enclosed space, the core of all journalism is responsibility. The framing of this golf outing as juxtaposed with a statement on an unspeakable tragedy by responsible journalists does a disservice to the audience and the industry.

Leave that to the ranters who prowl the internet. They do that kind of stuff far better than you.

So, I ask again. Really? Give me (him) a break.

Yours in dismay,

ATM

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Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:37:31 -0500

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