President Obama tries to downplay the “cable chatter” of the 24-hour news networks, but his frustration with them is as old as their fascination with him. “I think a lot of this stems from the election,” press secretary Robert Gibbs tells Politico, when some donors “would get fixated by cable and get freaked out and start calling.” It continues today, as the president greets sound bites and snap judgments—rather than his preferred reasoned debate—with “a lot of eye-rolling,” according to one staffer.
Obama may be unique in his fixation on the cable networks—“feels like WWF wrestling,” “day-to-day chatter,” “TV loves a ruckus,” he’s said—but the phenomenon is not new. “There’s always been frustration among presidents about what’s happening in the media,” a scholar says, though cable is “particularly personal, and it’s particularly endless. So there’s some validity to what he says.”