January 7, 2013

What covering Obama is like

Michael Hastings, Buzzfeed - The blond, 45-year-old Carney, soft in demeanor, had been a particularly hard subject for me to make contact with. Over the past two years, I’d sent the White House press secretary a number of e-mails, and none were answered. I had the same luck on the phone; no calls returned. Yes, he was a busy guy, but that didn’t stop me from taking the slights as deeply personal attacks. Why hadn’t I even gotten a “no comment”? Or a “fuck you”? Or “Sorry, you’re never in your life going to get an interview with me or the vice president, or anyone else”?

With Carney there was also the unsettling feeling that I was looking directly at a regime collaborator. I’d seen what they’d done to collaborators in Iraq—ski-masked assassinations at the marketplace—or to Cylons on Battlestar Galactica or snitches on the South Side—bang, bang. And yet, in all cases, collaborators performed a necessary function, one that made society ease forward, if also one that made it difficult to make eye contact with them.

Carney, you see, had been a journalist once, too. He’d been one of the reportedly 19 members of the mainstream outlets who had left their profession to join the hip and cool Camelot of the Obama years. Dealing with ex-journalists—hacks turned flacks—was like dealing with ex-smokers. They were barely able to disguise their contempt for what they once were, convinced now of their superiority because they had tapped into a part of life that was so much more fulfilling and wonderful than hacking up a lung.

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