Barack Obama

All the President's Voxsplainers

Remember when Vox was going to give us all a better way to "understand the news"? What we get instead is a better way to become courtiers to power.

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Back in the days before the site launched, Vox's founder Ezra Klein promised his site would let all of us plebeians "understand the news" in a better, richer way.

If Vox's recent interview—er, "conversation"—with President Barack Obama by Klein and Matthew Yglesias is any indication, the tutorial being offered isn't about explicating difficult or arcance topics so that even dummies (read: you and me, dear readers) can fake our way through a dinner party.

No, what Vox teaches is how to sit on the knee of power and divine what our rulers really mean to say and why it's such a goddanged good and smart and sharp idea.

As Jack Shafer notes at Politico, the presidential Q&A typically results in nothing worth remembering even when done by latter-day Oriana Fallacis, much less two journos who are totally in the tank for Obama:

See for yourself how little meat the hungry press corps was able to scrape from the bones of the Vox interview. CNN: "Obama 'hopeful' about partisanship, race relations"; Bloomberg: "Obama Says Wealth Accumulation Speaks to Need for Tax Shift"; National Journal: "In Vox Interview, Obama Sets Limits on What a President Can Accomplish"; Politico: "Barack Obama: Get rid of 'routine use' of legislative filibuster."…

In the example of Klein and Yglesias, they're less interested in interviewing Obama than they are in explaining his policies. Again and again, they serve him softball—no, make that Nerf ball—questions and then insert infographics and footnotes that help advance White House positions. Vox has lavished such spectacular production values on the video version of the Obama interview—swirling graphics and illustrations, background music (background music!?), aggressive editing, multiple camera angles—that the clips end up looking and sounding like extended commercials for the Obama-in-2016 campaign. I've seen subtler Scientology recruitment films.

Read more here.