CBS Laments Obama’s ‘Life in the Media Bubble’...of Adoration
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Chris Wragge seemed to feel sorry for Barack Obama having to withstand the media spotlight while vacationing in Hawaii: "Coming up, life in the media bubble. How is Barack Obama adjusting to the press following his every move?" However, as correspondent Ben Tracy later reported, that spotlight is not exactly harsh: "Tours of Obama's childhood stop at the apartment building where he grew up, a favorite lunch hangout, and the ice cream store where he had his first job. Tourist shops are also riding the Obama wave. The soon-to-be president is already a global celebrity."
Tracy began the reported by lamenting: "...the other day, the president-elect just wanted to eat his tuna sandwich. This vacation has been a bit of a reality check as to how little privacy Obama now has...He at times bristles at the constant media coverage...Yet at others, offers to buy reporters dessert." Tracy concluded the report by declaring: "And the media's trying to strike a balance between covering the person who's about to be the most powerful man in the world and also giving him his space to just be himself."
After Tracy’s report, Wragge talked to former Clinton Administration Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers and worried about Obama’s lack of privacy: "...I mean, under the microscope, I'm sure he didn't plan on being photographed with no shirt on in Hawaii...and all these -- kind of these private moments." Earlier, Tracy promoted those same photos as proof of Obama’s celebrity status: "His family's faces sell millions of magazines and the paparazzi are making more than the bare minimum on their vacation photos."
Here is the full transcript of the segment:
CHRIS WRAGGE: Coming up, life in the media bubble. How is Barack Obama adjusting to the press following his every move?
CHRIS WRAGGE: Hawaii is enjoying a moment in the sun as the birthplace of our next president. As Mr. Obama spends time on the golf course, some in Hawaii are cashing in on Obama-mania. CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports.
BEN TRACY: The Obamas can't seem to go anywhere on their Hawaiian vacation without causing a stir. After getting his kids and their friends a treat the other day, the president-elect just wanted to eat his tuna sandwich. This vacation has been a bit of a reality check as to how little privacy Obama now has.
BARACK OBAMA: How many shots of us do you need?
TRACY: He at times bristles at the constant media coverage-
OBAMA: You want one, I know.
TRACY: Yet at others, offers to buy reporters dessert.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Aloha, welcome to the first generational Obama tour.
TRACY: Now even the future president's past is big business here in Honolulu.
MAN: Yes, we're going by the hospital where he was born.
TRACY: Tours of Obama's childhood stop at the apartment building where he grew up, a favorite lunch hangout, and the ice cream store where he had his first job. Tourist shops are also riding the Obama wave. The soon-to-be president is already a global celebrity. His family's faces sell millions of magazines and the paparazzi are making more than the bare minimum on their vacation photos.
MIKE ALLEN: There's an insatiable appetite for anything about Barack Obama. Everyone wants to know about the dog, people in Washington are talking about where they're going to go to church.
TRACY: And the media's trying to strike a balance between covering the person who's about to be the most powerful man in the world and also giving him his space to just be himself. Ben Tracy, CBS News, Honolulu.
WRAGGE: So, how has the president-elect handled his relationship with the press so far? We're joined by Dee Dee Myers a CBS News consultant who was President Clinton's press secretary. Dee Dee, good morning to you.
DEE DEE MYERS: Good morning, Chris.
WRAGGE: Alright, let's talk about this. So, late last week, President-elect Obama took one of his daughters, nice and innocent, just went out for a little ice cream, a little ice, didn't tell the press pool. Now how big an issue is this? If you can, just briefly describe for the people at home the relationship the president-elect -- the obligation he has with the press.
MYERS: Right, well, from the time now President-elect Obama was a serious and likely winner he has had with him a pool of reporters, networks, the wires, some photographers, that go pretty much everywhere he goes when he leaves his home or the office where he works every day. The other day when he was in Hawaii he took his daughters to the water park and he didn't take the pool, they weren't assembled, they weren't expecting him to leave. It's a very big deal, because that pool goes with him in the hope that nothing happens, but in the possibility that something does happen. And so that raises a question: Is this something he's gonna to try to do again, or was it an anomaly? Is he testing the limits as a new president on vacation? Is this something we're gonna see more of? I think it's unlikely that he'll try to slip the pool very often. He may do it once in while. Most presidents don't, because it creates a bad relationship with the press.
WRAGGE: Yeah, but you know, he's got the Blackberry, which he has to give up, I know he's not too pleased about that. In the con -- I mean, under the microscope I'm sure he didn't plan on being photographed with no shirt on in Hawaii-
WRAGGE: -and all these -- kind of these private moments. So if he chooses not to cooperate with the press pool, what ends up happening?
MYERS: Well, then the press will stake him out 24/7. You networks will get together and you'll have a collective effort to make sure that he never leaves the White House without somebody knowing that he's left. That's an uncomfortable situation for everybody. It's exhausting and expensive for the press. It's not very much fun for the Obama family. What's probably more likely is that they'll try to create a relationship, much the way the Clintons did, where, particularly when they're traveling around town for family events, to their children's school or perhaps to church, they'll take a very small group of reporters who will agree to stay back, not take pictures, but be there in case, God forbid, something happens. It is always an adjustment. It's difficult for new presidents and their families to give up their privacy, but it's something that has evolved over many years, given the threats that all presidents face.
WRAGGE: Now you served in the Clinton Administration, you had a pretty good understanding of how the press could deal with Chelsea.
WRAGGE: What do the Obamas need to do? Because there's a very delicate fine line here, how you treat the kids and how much press attention the kids get. What goes on here?
MYERS: Right. Well, in the Clinton Administration, we sat down with the press and worked out an agreement where we'd have again this very limited pool -- we called it 'the family pool.' When the Clintons were traveling, again, to school or to some event involving Chelsea Clinton, it would be a very, very limited situation. They would be allowed to travel with the president while he was moving through the streets of Washington, through public spaces, but they would keep their distance once they were on campus at her school, for example. And I think the Obamas will look for a very similar kind of relationship. And I think that's in everybody's interest. It's -- you the press -- the president honors the press' responsibility to cover his travels, particularly, again, through public streets and public spaces, but it also says to the family, 'Look, we understand that you know, you have young children, that you need some privacy and we're going to do our best to honor that.' I think they can reach some accommodation, but it always takes some time and a building of trust between the new White House press office and the existing press here in our nation's capital.
WRAGGE: Dee Dee, just ten seconds here. I know reporters, no access is enough access-
WRAGGE: What's your quick bit of advice to Robert Gibbs, the incoming press secretary? Ten seconds.
MYERS: I think he needs to listen very carefully to the needs of the press, always be accessible and then set very clear limits and do as best to live up to them. And I think, generally you can have a good relationship that way.
WRAGGE: Alright, Dee Dee Myers, good to talk with you, thanks so much.
MYERS: You bet.