Opinion: How Obama’s team ensures his messages get delivered properly


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Here are a couple of little windows into how the new Barack Obama administration is quietly selling itself in savvy ways:

First, the more obvious e-mail blast: Early today right after the White House announcement of the nomination of Mark Huckabee to the Supreme Court. Oh, no, wait. It’s Mike Huckabee who got Sonia Sotomayor‘s first name wrong online today.


Anyway, right away into millions of e-mail boxes of last yearr’s campaign supporters pinged a personally addressed message from Obama himself. Wow, the president really does multi-task like he promised. How does he have time to announce nominees, face down the grave North Korean threat, play golf and help Harry Reid raise a couple mill at Caesars Palace tonight while writing millions of e-mails?

What an amazing chief executive!

Here’s what his e-mail says:

Judge Sotomayor has lived the America Dream. Born and raised in a South Bronx housing project, she distinguished herself in academia and then as a hard-charging New York District Attorney.

Judge Sotomayor has gone on to....

...earn bipartisan acclaim as one of America’s finest legal minds. As a Supreme Court Justice, she would bring more federal judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any Justice in 100 years. Judge Sotomayor would show fidelity to our Constitution and draw on a common-sense understanding of how the law affects our day-to-day lives. A nomination for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land is one of the most important decisions a President can make. And the discussions that follow will be among the most important we have as a nation.

It seems the president has already made a video about the judge, which you can view here. And when POTUS suggests you send the video on to friends, that’s what we do.

Second and more subtly, White House aides are using the time-honored background sessions in the Big House to ‘explain’ their boss’ thinking and woo writers subject to wooing whose pieces will help shape the opinions of millions across the country.

Thanks to the very keen-eyed Ed Morrissey over at HotAir we get a peek into how that works. Writers are invited in. Nice coffee, cold drinks. Senior aides, under the cover of anonymity, explain some policy, how it evolved and the president’s thinking. They take questions.


And then, suddenly, almost as if it was planned, the president himself makes an unannounced entry. Everybody stands up.

‘Hey, be seated, guys. How everybody doing? All right? Is Robert giving you a hard time? Well, you give him one right back. I know you’re talking about X, let me just share a thought or two.’ And he does.

It’s almost like an exclusive interview with the GCA. It enables the writer to write authoritatively and because of that, virtually ensures that he/she will use those two or three key points, which is precisely what the administration wants.

Very impressive, possibly persuasive. Then POTUS leaves and the group therapy continues.

Here’s the new Obama communications wrinkle, which has former journalist David Axelrod‘s Chicago fingerprints all over it:

Unbeknownst to the invited writers, they’ve been classified politically, say, centrist in one group or more conservative or more liberal in another group. That way the aides’ presentations can be tailored to go down best with each group’s ideological leanings.

Last week, as Ed reports, the Obama communications team had two writer briefings going on in the White House simultaneously. And you’ll be surprised to learn the president managed to make surprise entries at both of them.


Another administration advantage: It’s like a private practice news conference or townhall. They learn what questions jump out of the group to prepare for and what their info gaps are. Oh, look, there’s a town hall meetng n Nevada Wednesday!

Nothing wrong with any of it. Very clever. As an informed news consumer, just keep that in mind next time you read or watch someone tell you what any president’s real objective is. That info didn’t get planted or repeated by accident.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of planted, click here for Twitter alerts on each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot