White House gets approval of all quotes for Obama profile in Vanity Fair

Call this a seminal moment in the decline and fall of political journalism … real journalism, not the puff “profiles” in admittedly left- or right-wing publications. “Vanity Fair” has creds: among the best writers and columnists when dealing with politics. So I was very surprised to read the following in this week’s issue of “The Week” magazine.

In order to get extensive access to President Obama for a new book and Vanity Fair profile, author Michael Lewis agreed to give the White House approval over all Obama quotes. Quote approval — once seen by journalists as an unacceptable form of censorship — is often now a prerequisite for interviews of business executives and celebrities.” — The New York Times.

They’re quite right about celebrities and some business leaders. Even the top-level entertainment shows and publications, and many second-tier business pubs, agree to quote approval and even article review. It’s a nasty practice, but deemed necessary to compete in the entertainment news world. But politics used to be on a different ethics standard.

There’s a reason why hard-right sources and far-left sources should be mostly enjoyed by the reader and ignored by others. They are designed to increase a particular bias, not fairly evaluate opinions and observations. “Vanity Fair,” its editor, Graydon Carter, and Michael Lewis have done a huge disservice to real political journalism. They have eliminated real inquiry at the expense of access. Lewis’ “journalism” is one of prior restraint, already vetted to ensure maximum puffery for the president. Neither the profile or the book is worthy of anyone spending a moment reading. Both should be sold in the gift store section of the future Barack Obama Presidential Museum.

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6 Responses to White House gets approval of all quotes for Obama profile in Vanity Fair

  1. Brent Glines says:

    No problem. It’s nice of them to forewarn us that the book will not be worth reading. I already have a stack of unread books as it is. A little triage is helpful.

  2. Preston says:

    Nicely said.

  3. Tom says:

    Interesting that you would label this as a “….seminal moment in the decline and fall of political journalism … real journalism…” in the same piece that you seem to be committing another journalistic no-no, symbolic of that decline and fall, by coming to the illogical conclusion that this is some sort of plot to “ensure maximum puffery for the president”.

    The Times article clearly stated: “In order to get extensive access to President Obama for a new book….” Given this age of extreme political poison and routine misquoting for cheap political purposes, don’t you think the White House required this to keep the President from being misquoted and misconstrued in what he means, especially given that they want “extensive access”.

    Instead you automatically assumed the worse about our President’s motives, which doesn’t seem to me to be the epitome of journalistic integrity.

    Maybe it is your inner Romney polluting your normal fine journalistic skills?

    • Doug says:


      I assure you that I am as harsh to Romney or any other Republican who would agree to that, but more so always to the publication. This post is more a condemnation of Vanity Fair’s decision than the president.

  4. Howard Ratcliffe says:

    My favorite quote is “My father served in WWII” His father was 3 when war broke out. http://theintelhub.com/2012/04/25/obama-claims-his-father-served-in-wwii/

    • Decider says:

      My favorite quote was provided ealier today by the former Republican political Director for the State of Iowa who lamented Paul Ryan’s political future by saying that first “Ryan would need to rid himself of the STENCH of Romney”.
      Yep, the rats have decided that there is a better nautical venue . . .

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