Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

February 13, 2014

JEFFREY McCALL: The president doesn't control the news agenda

Press will drop 'scandals' after all information gets out.

The president of the United States is often character-ized as the most powerful person in the world. In spite of the enor-mous power held by the leader of the free world, however, there remains one thing the president can’t do: control the news agenda.

The constitutional framers created a free press to make sure the government powers-that-be couldn’t orchestrate the flow of information to the citizenry. Thus, if Fox News wants to do saturation coverage of Benghazi or IRS targeting, it is free to do so. If The New York Times wants to beat up Chris Christie over bridgegate, it surely can. And if ABC’s “Good Morning America” wants to waste its news agenda with updates about “The Bachelor,” it can do that, too. The media’s news agenda might be politically charged, misguided, too soft or even irrelevant, but it’s still the press’ prerogative to decide.

President Obama surely knows this, but he is apparently uncomfortable with the arrangement. The president chafed during his recent interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly when O’Reilly asked about political overtones in the administration’s initial Benghazi explanations, “They believe it because folks like you are telling them that.” After questions about IRS targeting, President Obama scolded O’Reilly, “These kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them.”

A president is not a helpless victim of the media when it comes to what issues get on the news agenda. A president has plenty of tools to get his messages out, push priorities and shape public discourse. A president can give an oration whenever he wants on whatever topic. The White House press office feeds reporters every day and chastises reporters who don’t get in line. Every White House has cabinet members and operatives to shill the president’s talking points.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • It's time to deal with crisis For five and a half years, the president has gone around Congress to ignore, defy and alter laws in a variety of areas, from Obamacare implementation to issuing excessive new labor and environmental rules to infringing on religious freedom. It is no

    August 21, 2014

  • Nation must be united On Aug. 9, unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, by a police officer. Since that time, protestors and unrest have filled the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, a town near St. Louis.A similar scenario

    August 21, 2014

  • John understands fight against mental illness Terre Haute native Tommy John understands all too well how the pain of depression can lead a talented entertainer like Robin Williams to commit suicide.Like Williams, John achieved national fame, posting 288 victories as a major league baseball pitch

    August 21, 2014

  • Letters to the Editor Former Kokomoan on FergusonI was a resident of Kokomo from 1992 to 2008. Because of the housing crisis, my wife and I relocated to the St. Louis, Missouri area, which is close to where I grew up. With the eyes of the world focused upon the St. Louis

    August 21, 2014

  • OPN - KT082014 - king What Fergusonsays about us Aug. 9 is a day that Americans lost sight of themselves. It is the day Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black teenager of Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, was shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. That evening, and for all but o

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Letters to the editor Congrats on wind farm defeat Congratulations to the citizens of Kokomo and Howard County! Your officials have done you a great favor by stopping any further considerations for construction of industrial wind turbines in your area. Now, if the fede

    August 20, 2014

  • Cleaning up voter rolls Citizens should expect the voting process for electing government representatives at all levels to be efficient and of the highest integrity. Indiana's system in recent years has at times been manipulated for political purposes -- the voter ID system

    August 20, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: First Amendment assault in Ferguson

    Of all the outrageous and disturbing story lines emanating from Ferguson, Missouri, since unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, the targeting of journalists during the ensuing protests ranks among the most troubling.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Moped law long overdue We’ve all seen them on the streets, and their popularity is only growing. Mopeds have coasted in a legal grey area for years in Indiana. A lack of registration, testing and licensure allowed those without other means of transport to join other vehicl

    August 19, 2014

  • HAYDEN: Craft brewers and vintners returned sprits to Indiana State Fair Brad Hawkins felt right at home hawking his beer at the Indiana State Fairgrounds last week.When Hawkins opened his Salt Creek Brewery in a converted filling station in tiny Needmore three years ago, some tee-totaling neighbors protested he was putti

    August 19, 2014

Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson Today in History August 21 Holder Pledges Top Investigators for Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man Seth Meyers Rolls Out Emmy Red Carpet Obama: World Is Appalled by Murder of Journalist Israel, Militants Trade Fire After Talks Fail Pres. George W. Bush Takes Ice Bucket Challenge Pierce Brosnan's Call to Join the Expendables Changes Coming to No-Fly List
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll