Black Bloggers Get Played By the White House

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon
When the White House wanted to get its latest message out to black communities, it didn't call a press conference. Its spokespeople didn't turn to BET or black radio. They called in black bloggers, most of them not even remotely political, and few if any working journalists. What the White House hoped to accomplish was crystal clear --- to use them the manner corrupt and lazy reporters are used, to seduce them with the illusion of “privileged access” in return for the ability to plant anonymous stories and gossip as “news” items.

Black Bloggers Get Played By the White House

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Real journalists would have laughed those anonymous spokesperson and “off the record” requirements right out of the room. Ethical journalists only grant anonymity to sources like whistle blowers with well-founded fears of retaliation..”

In the words of I.F. Stone, one of the 20th century's great investigative journalists, “Governments lie. All governments lie.” Stone's words are as true now as they were when he uttered them more than half a century ago.

When the White House invited black bloggers in for a Columbus Day meeting, they were told they could print anything they heard in the first half of the meeting, but that they could attribute none of it to any White House spokesperson by name, while the second half of their meeting would be completely “off the record.” Fortunately, or perhaps by design, none of the invited bloggers were actually journalists. They hailed mostly from celebrity gossip sites like ConcreteLoop, and Young, Black and Fabulous, from BET and Essence magazine, from BlackSingles.Com.

Real journalists would have laughed those anonymous spokesperson and “off the record” requirements right out of the room. Ethical journalists only grant anonymity to sources like whistle blowers with well-founded fears of retaliation, not to police to mayors or to prosecutors, not to military or civilian government officials. The only reason for representatives of these powerful institutions to speak to reporters, or bloggers “off the record” is to lie to them with the expectation that they will pass untraceable falsehoods on to the public as news, or in the case of Young, Black and Fabulous, celebrity gossip.

Sure enough, cell phone video of the president dropping in to briefly address the bloggers hit the internet the very next day, prompting the Atlantic's token black commentator Ta Nehisi Coates to grouse about colored folks who didn't understand what “off the record” meant, as if being the covert mouthpieces of the powerful were something they really should strive to be.

Black Agenda Report was not invited to the White House briefing, and that's perfectly OK with us. “

One of the invitees was a friend and colleague of ours, Ms. Leutisha Stills, now at JackAndJillPolitics.Com. Observing that the White House hadn't called black bloggers in since the 2008 presidential campaign, she opined that the bloggers were being, as she put it, “pimped.” We think Ms. Stills was correct, but for the wrong reasons. To be “pimped” is to be manipulated for some underhanded and shameful purpose. Whether bloggers, or journalists are shamefully used once every couple years, or three times every week is a difference only in the frequency of the act, not in the roles of the players or of the played.

Thus when Keli Goff, a Huffington Post and blogger, called the White House briefing “a good first date,” she was publicly signaling her willingness to be used any way, any time by the powerful. There's a word for people who play that role, and that word is not “journalist.”

In his long career, the great investigative reporter I.F. Stone broke scores of original stories about war, peace and corruption. He never asked for, and he never got the privileged and “off the record” access to the powerful, which Ta Nehisi Coates imagines black reporters should aspire to, the private interviews with mayors, admirals and presidents, who would have been much too afraid of his direct and probing questions anyway. Stone got his stories the old fashioned way, with diligent research.

Black Agenda Report was not invited to the White House briefing, and that's perfectly OK with us. We understand that reporters and bloggers too, who subsist on privileged access to the powerful in return for passing their anonymous tidbits to the public as news, that such people are being pimped. Which makes them.... well.... you know....

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web every Wednesday at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and based in Marietta GA.. He can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)


Mr. "Transparency": "rinse and recycle"

"Black Bloggers?"  Who are these people?  A bunch of wannabe "insiders?"  "Embedded House Negroes?"  lol  This is another permutation of "Black Narcissim," most of these bloggers understand that average Black person swoons over access, and they are willing to exploit that for their personal gains and aggrandizement.

The rationale is, "Bruh man/woman got juice, s/he was in the West Wing last week or participated in a conference call last month with the office of the Anointed One."  How pathetic and disingenuous.

Obama is intimidated by the Right Wing so he takes out his aggression on the Left Wing.  His actions have nothing to do wtih being pragmatic, he'd incite his base if he was pragmatic, it has to do with what he believes in and being a cynical bastard too.

This is part of the Obama "rinse and recycle," its a part of his character trait.  Coddle with the Right Wing publicly, but hush, hush with the Left Wing, always privately, always as some phony show of "good faith" when in fact it's a cynical scheme to disempower them.

Obama's pulled the same crap with gay advocates.  After you read the article be sure to read some of the comments.  Obama's scam might be working with Blacks, probably will ALWAYS work with Blacks blinded by Black Narcissism and Tribalism, but increasingly White Liberals are understanding that the only thing that's transparent about Obama is his cowardice and love of "bipartisanship."


"The Obama administration wants to keep the discussion off-the-record, and says it would end the meeting outright if the discussion turns to recent court decisions that found the policy to be "unconstitutional."

Gay publication The Advocate obtained a copy of White House Deputy Director Brian Bond's email with details of the meeting, in which he threatens to end the talks.

"Obviously this meeting has gotten out," Bond wrote. "We are expecting the content of the conversation today to be off the record and to help us figure out how to move forward with the lame duck session."

He continued: "Also as previously mentioned, there can be no discussion of current court cases or legal strategy or Counsel’s Office will end the meeting. The focus is repeal and the lame duck session. This is also a non-partisan meeting where we want everyone’s help."

Get it folks?  "This is ALSO A NON-PARTISAN MEETING......."  Once again the Jelly-Fish-in-Chief is preparing to kow tow to the Rethugs, once again signaling his accomodation.  Once again, "rinse and recycle."  Mitch McConnell came out recently and said that the GOP goal should be to insure that Obama is a one-termer.  Get it, the GOP is still intent on destroying the little punk, and by golly they've succeeded.  And yet President Mealy-mouth stiff arms the gay advocates, stiff arms the Black advocates and others, while signaling to the Right Wing his love, with that most disgusting word that flows from his lying lips:  "Bipartisanship."

Obama has some serious psychological problems, any real Black man who refuses to see that needs his head examined. I'm ashamed of him as a man, doubly ashamed as a (so-called) Black Man. He has not even basic, instinctive fight in him. Bob Woodward describes how the generals punked him. He's been deferential to Whites his entire life, and lacks the discernment to separate enemies from friends.  That, folks, is a serious malady. If this guy was in prison, they'd be trading his behind like cigarettes, passing him from cell to cell, that would be his "bipartisan" gift. 

Good Last Paragraph

I wonder about Obama's psychological make up.  My impression is that the guy's primarily an opportunist and it's worked for him, it got him into the White House. He plays the Left and the Blacks to get votes, while working behind the scenes with the plutocrats to get financing and favorable media coverage. That's been his game all along. The plutocrats ascertained, correctly by my reckoning , that Obama truly believes in their game plan, at least enough to along with it, otherwise you would have never heard of him.