It won't be war until Obama fights back, as he will. Everything the press does makes the job of governing more difficult, Deakin observes, even putatively sympathetic reporting. As Obama faces that reality, he'll become less and less Obama-esque, more vengeful and cloistered, and the press will have a fresh story to pursue: the decline of Obamaism and the triumph of Washington as usual. How much will pent-up antagonism at the overcontrolling Obama campaign contribute to the abrasive reports? You have to ask?
The White House will counter by serving the standard ration of seduction and hostility to the press because, as Deakin explains, it's as much in the press business as the press is. Whenever possible, it seeks to scoop the conventional press. It wants the public lapping up its "reports," not those of the press, and its credibility logically increases whenever the credibility of the conventional press falls.
Being commander in chief of the armed forces is never good enough. Presidents always want to be the nation's editor-in-chief, too. Once they assume that title, total press war is just around the corner.
Deakin's book is such a trove of anecdote and example you'd be a moron if presidential press politics interest you and you don't pick up a used copy of it. I got mine through Amazon for $.01 plus $3.99 handling, but there are a slew of cheap copies there and at AbeBooks. Send your press-book bargain tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)
Track my errors: This hand-built RSS feed will ring every time Slate runs a "Press Box" correction. For e-mail notification of errors in this specific column, type the words Press War in the subject head of an e-mail message, and send it to email@example.com.