It's not easy to figure out what Google considers news, these days. When I heard (on Fox "News Watch") about the appointment of liberal blogger Jesse Lee to be the White House "director of progressive media and online response" I rushed to look for an official announcement on the Internet. Naturally, I turned to Google, plugging in 'jesse lee media online "director of progressive media"' under their News category. I could not find such an announcement in an accredited news report. The closed thing I came up with was a posting in the Washington Post by blogger Ed O'Keefe, "Press shop comings and goings," which mentions Jesse Lee's appointment in paragraph three.
There was, of course, an expose in Hannity, "White House 'Web Police' to Do Battle in 2012?", what may be politely regarded as a "pooh-pooh cachoo" rejoinder in ("I am the Walrus") Media Matters, entitled, "Fox Accidentally Justifies Obama's Online Rapid Response Group." and various and sundry other "tit for tats"1 from the right and the left, with O'Keefe's report perhaps the earliest to hit the wires and most others appearing the same day, May 24th. (O.k., so this one flew under my radar.)
The question is, of course, whether this is a big deal or not. Some possibilities:
- It is a big deal, because it takes a function of the Democratic National Committee and merges it into the White House on the tax payers dime.
- It's not a big deal because the White House already has a spin meister, called the press secretary, and it has already made a foray into the National Endowment for the Arts, which may properly be considered an extension of the work done by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
- It's not a big deal because the White House already essentially owns the lame-stream media, something that was particularly obvious to everyone when GE controlled MSNBC.
- It's not a big deal, if you appeal to obvious conspiracy theories, like George Soros being the dog that wags the White House and Media Matters, both.
So, the weight of the evidence suggests this is merely a footnote in journalistic/political history. Perhaps it is an important footnote. That remains to be seen, and will obviously depend upon how successful Mr. Lee is in spiking the ball in the ongoing flurry of volleys.
Incidentally, I find it fascinating that Media Matters would give such credit to Mr. Hannity for inspiring such a desperate White House move.
Before I leave this question, I would note in passing that this is the first time the conservative blogosphere seems to have noticed the association with George Orwell's phrase Ministry of Truth made famous in his classic dystopia, Nineteen Eighty Four. It remains to be seen whether the White House will come to regard this new ministry as just as indispensable as that of the MoT in Oceania. We'll know when we see what happens to the new ministry's budget and who takes the helm.
- 1Is it safe to leave it to Media Matters to decide whether this expression is not sexist?