Politics

White House rollout of Kagan Supreme Court announcement a study in modern media manipulation

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Jon Ward
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      Jon Ward

      Jon Ward covers the White House and national politics for The Daily Caller. He covered the last two years of George W. Bush's presidency and the first year of Barack Obama's presidency for The Washington Times. Prior to moving to national politics, Jon worked for the Times' city desk and bureaus in Virginia and Maryland, covering local news and politics, including the D.C. sniper shootings and subsequent trial, before moving to state politics in Maryland. He and his wife have two children and live on Capitol Hill. || <a href="mailto:jw@dailycaller.com">Email Jon</a>

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs looked genuinely irritated Monday, telling reporters in his office that President Obama did not intend for news of Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court to be leaked to the press Sunday evening.

“These are the president’s picks and the president ought to have the opportunity to announce them when he wants to,” Gibbs said.

If the White House indeed wanted to keep the news a secret until Monday morning, it must have been one of the few disappointments on a day that saw a highly scripted and carefully planned rollout of the administration’s pick for the nation’s highest court.

Of course, the Kagan leaks did not look uncoordinated. Politico’s Mike Allen reported Friday morning that Kagan would likely be the nominee, and that the news would first come out Sunday evening. That is exactly what happened.

And while the White House claimed to have “rollout scenarios for multiple candidates,” the New York Times had a 4,667-word profile of Kagan ready on its website before 6:00 a.m. that day.

The nomination was in many respects a study in how the Obama White House has learned to use the modern media environment to its advantage and created a new playbook in the world of digital communications. A handful of storylines counter to White House talking points gained ground Monday: Rumors about Kagan’s sexuality became a focus and were fueled in part by the administration’s defensiveness, some critics questioned White House claims that she is in touch with every day working people and her decision to ban military recruiters from Harvard’s campus when she was dean of its law school received a lot of attention. But overall, Obama’s communications team could probably not have asked for a more receptive environment into which the president introduced his pick.

By the time Obama appeared with Kagan at 10 a.m. Monday in the White House East Room, there was a general resignation in Washington that she was a virtual lock for confirmation, created in large part by the convention wisdom, pushed hard by the administration, that Kagan is a smart and moderate jurist, even if liberal.

The White House also went out of its way Monday to neutralize any damage it might incur at the televised daily briefing, holding off-camera question and answer sessions separately with TV reporters and print reporters less than an hour after the announcement.

In the days leading up to the announcement, the White House did its best to gauge reactions from different constituencies: Republicans in the Senate, liberal activists, the press. Obama staff carefully placed bits and pieces of information in the hands of select reporters to signal who the president was going to choose and to test whether or not potential lines of attack would be picked up by conservatives or not.

By floating Kagan’s name days in advance the White House was able to observe the potency of criticisms of Kagan from the left, while reaping the political benefits of having her appear more moderate because of the attacks.

Gibbs, of course, denied that politics played any role whatsoever in the decision and the execution of the announcement.

“The president was focused on picking the very best person to be the Supreme Court nominee,” he said.

Pressed to name a number indicating what percentage of the president’s choice was politically motivated, Gibbs doubled down.

  • elektramourns

    The second largest shareholder of News Corp., parent of Faux News, is a Saudian Arabian with ties to the BinLadens, Palestinians, and the schoolds that teach kids over there to be terrorists.

    Faux News has ties to terrorism.

    • anniebanannie

      I wonder if it’s the same Saudi that Obama bowed to.

      You’re a desperate little Axeltroll. HAHAAH!!

    • adamincalifornia

      Is that what they taught you in “schoold”?

      And I thought the Bin Ladens were good friends of George “chimpyMcHalliburton” Bush. That is what the svelte Michael Moore told us. Where did he go to “schoold”?

      It all gets so confusing sometimes – all those villains. Like keeping track of an astrological calendar while doing Peyote and Jagermeister shots all while chanting “Tea bagger menace! Tea bagger menace!”

      • hurtzallot

        Peyote and Jagermeister…I tried that once, too back sh!t I didn’t steal.

        • hurtzallot

          “took”…see that’s what happens with that combo, kills only the good brain cells.

      • anniebanannie

        “Like keeping track of an astrological calendar while doing Peyote and Jagermeister shots all while chanting “Tea bagger menace! Tea bagger menace!””

        You really ARE from Caleeefornya.

  • adamincalifornia

    Well Obama and Emanuel know that Progre$$ives have programming to hate Republicans which overrides any self interest or principle. Social Conservatives are similarly programmed to hate anyone that defies Leviticus, so Gays rank high on that list. Thus Bush trotted out banning gay marriage when he expanded entitlements and deficits.

    Obama, who is as cynical a politician as they come, found a choice that pits both groups at each other while delivering what he wants.

  • B.O. STINKS

    CRIME INC.’S MR.FIBBS ALWAYS HAS HIS GODDAWGGY’S BACK.
    OBAMA HAS PICKED THE BEST LEFT-WING NUT JOB SOCIALIST FOR HIS REGIME’S,”TURN AMERICA INTO GREECE” AGENDA HE COULD POSSIBLY CHOOSE.
    …………………………………………………………………….
    WITH A D.I.C.K.TATOR LIKE GODDAWGGY OBAMA WHO THE H.ELL NEEDS ENEMIES?

  • MorningStar

    Good Lord!! We are asked to support our troops overseas & then the president nominate a person who successfully to keep military recruiters off the Harvard campus.

  • erick1740

    She is a harvard elitist snob, she has no connection to the typical american.

    • badmotherfarker

      So all of us that either went to Harvard or are associated with Harvard are not “real” americans then??

      • anniebanannie

        He didn’t say “real” he said “typical”. There’s a difference. You changed it to “real” to try and advance the thought erick is questioning somebody’s patriotism or something. Nice trick. Didn’t work.

        Also, if you’re insinuating that you went to Harvard, I would say that is proof erick is correct, because you are certainly not “typical” – be that good or bad.

        • des1

          What? BMF twisted the truth (lied) to try to smear someone he didn’t agree with?

          Just shocking….

          I wonder if they have a special class for that at Harvard?

          • anniebanannie

            Isn’t it funny how they can copy and paste from DU, Kos, or Huffpoop, but they can’t accurately quote from a post directly above them on the same page.

      • adamincalifornia

        If you went to Harvard then you have explained one hell of a lot.

      • erick1740

        No, but I would say that an association with harvard is nothing to brag about. Effite snobs.

    • elektramourns

      your redneck jealousy is showing again

      • anniebanannie

        Your bigotry is showing.

  • matedeirdre

    When is the media going to wake up and DO THEIR JOB, and check the backgrounds of these people and report the facts. It ridiculous that the AP had 11 reporters fact checking Sarah Palin’s book but Obama’s records are sealed up tighter than Fort Knox and nobody questions that. The double
    standard is so glaringly apparent it would be funny if the fate of our country weren’t at stake.

    • badmotherfarker

      Huh?? Palin WROTE a book. Should that NOT be fact checked? Obama’s book has been thoroughly fact checked.

      • misanthropicus

        farky, as fackchecking Obama’s bio:
        1) just a couple of days ago Michelle again confirmed that Obama was born in Kenya -
        2) the issue just can’t be wished away – even an ultraliberal homosexual anchor like Vanderbilt Cooper has began hedging, by having colonel Lakin on his CNN show -

        • badmotherfarker

          If you think Obama was born in Kenya, you’re a moron.

          • misanthropicus

            Farky, but its Michelle herself who said that, buddy – hehehe – so now you call her a liar or that he doesn’t know 20+ years worth of pillow talk?

            Then- hehehe – maybe you’re right when it comes to pillow talk – Michelle might well have less pillow talk hours than Larry Sinclair and other guys -

            Looks like the homosexuals’ love for Obama is general and deep – remember, the tea-bagger en-chief Vanderbilt Cooper put quite a fight for the Kenyan a few days ago -

      • independentvoter

        Shows how much sense you make Palin wrote a book so she should be fact checked but someone ruling on laws or running this country should not be?? WAKE UP

        • badmotherfarker

          I’m not the one that brought up Palin’s book – the original poster did. And Obama has been THOROUGHLY inspected. Go to factcheck.org and take a look.

          • DegenerateEllen

            sure…thoroughly checked….roflmao! and we’re supposed to take factcheck.org’s word for it? Now there’s documentation for you! ROFLMAO!

          • Kerrvillian

            Right. the Annenberg Foundation, who used to give Obama and Bill Ayers money to play around with.

            No doubt they are completely unbiase, according to you?

            What makes their claims of being unbiased of any more value than Fox News’ similar claim? Do you have a bias ruler in your pocket?

            More about Obama, Ayers and the Annenberg Foundation at:
            http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/08/obamas_lost_annenberg_years_co.html

      • tdpwells

        Yeah, they had so many fact checkers on Palin’s book that they had zero time to devote to the health care bill. You know, the one that “new details” are coming from nearly every day that confirm every bad thing the right said about it?

    • doncicciofitipaldi

      What a laughable comment. Obama’s records are sealed? What records the papers he wrote in law school? And what does SP book have to do with anything? Obama has 2 books. You can go pick them up and read them and split them till you’re blue in the face.

      The fact that the announcement was orchestrated only shows competence in today’s media environement where every comedic talk show host like Rush, Beck, and yes John Stewart (at least John knows hes a comedian)tell you the “news” rather than a serious news organization – NO, not Faux who’s only mission is to get Republicans elected, but serious ones like CNN. (this is where you scream..liberal, liberal…but that’s only because your sense of reality is skewed).

      • independentvoter

        CNN is only serious when it comes to smooching the Obama agenda.. I use to be a big fan of CNN for years until they crawled into bed with the current administration.. now they are no better than ABC,CBS,MSNBC ETC.. pure bias..

    • mugwa

      So tired of watching you people hope over nothing. The media has willfull blindness to conservative agendas, its NOT a case of “doing their job”. Its deliberate, and calculated, to continue to try to destroy conservatism by being the progressive mouthpiece of the Obama administration.

      There is not a shred of integrity in most of the main stream media outlets. Its die hard ideology, disguised as reporting. And the sooner you wake up to this and stop thinking of it in terms of people not doing their jobs, we would finish off the dying press. They are doing Obama’s job, and doing it with fervor.

  • hurtzallot

    Just WHAT in my 11:42 post needed to be moderated? Ridiculous…again.

    • badmotherfarker

      I’ve yet to understand how the moderation flag works here. It’s almost like it’s random.

  • hurtzallot

    Modern media manipulation? I thought this goes against Obama’s new theory given at the graduation ceremony on the role technology plays in distorting the truth in communicating? Who won the war on FOX News? Is Kagan too short to be gay? Too many questions and not enough answers.