Topic: Media Research Center
In a May 14 NewsBusters post, Media Research Center vice president Brent Baker dismisses as "sycophantic" at a new book by Jonathan Alter on Barack Obama's first year in office, and goes on to portray an anecdote from the book cited by Alter in an appearance on the "Today" show as "a laudatory anecdote about Obama told to him by self-interested members of Obama's staff," in which "Obama supposedly lectured those who dared criticize him," specifically military generals.
But Baker didn't tell the rest of the story. From a May 3 Associated Press article:
President Barack Obama reprimanded top Pentagon officials last year for pressing publicly for a troop increase in Afghanistan.
That's according to "The Promise," a book on Obama's first year in office by Newsweek writer Jonathan Alter. It goes on sale May 19.
The book says Obama laid into Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen in an Oval Office meeting last October.
Obama was irked by the leak of a confidential report by Gen. Stanley McChrystal calling for an expanded military presence in Afghanistan, and by McChrystal saying he could not support a strategy relying on special forces and unmanned drone attacks.
Obama was conducting a lengthy review of operations in Afghanistan at the time. He largely sided with the generals and agreed to deploy 30,000 more troops.
So Obama wasn't merely "lecturing those who dared criticize him." He was criticizing generals who were trying to influence policy by speaking outside the military chain of command and through strategic leaks to the media.
It seems that Baker is endorsing military subordination against the President of the United States. Does anyone think Baker would encourage this behavior if these generals were doing the same thing to a Republican president?
Also, Baker's knee-jerk description of a book he has clearly not read as "sycophantic" is, unsurprisingly, at odds with the facts. A Washington Post review of the book by Matthew Dallek points out that Alter's book "reveals the gap between Obama's image as a great orator and his flagging efforts to communicate his policies lucidly," and notes that his administration "lost control of the message on bailouts, health care and jobs," and that "He is seen having difficulty escaping 'the bubble' and anticipating how the politics will unfold on a given issue." Some sycophant.