Today, Kevin explains how advertising is being forced down your throat at every turn and how the information you are hearing is far from truthful. Plus, find out how international conglomerates & politicians make sure outsiders never get into the White House.
Axelrod On Sanctioning Secretly Funded Groups
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May 9th, 2011
The Huffington Post
By: Sam Stein
David Axelrod, the president’s senior communications adviser, spent much of the 2010 election cycle warning against the rise of anonymously funded, conservative non-government groups, going so far as to frame them as a threat to democracy itself.
On Sunday, he blessed the emergence of those same organizations on the Democratic side of the aisle, calling it a bitter but necessary pill to swallow for both the party and campaign finance reformers.
“Let’s be clear,” Axelrod said on “Meet the Press.” “This independent group that was formed was formed in response to the ones that spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last campaign to defeat Democratic candidates [with] undisclosed, large contributions. And we tried to pass a law [the DISCLOSE Act] through the Congress that would force … all groups to disclose who was giving them the money so the public could see. It got 59 Democratic votes in the United States Senate, 41 Republicans blocked it. And so, of course, now there’s a reaction to what happened, because Democrats are sitting there saying, ‘We can’t play under two sets of rules.’ … We should walk down to Capitol Hill and urge them to pass the law and that will govern both Republicans and Democrats and everybody will be playing under one set of rules.”
“I don’t think this is healthy,” he added. “I don’t think this is good. But it is the system we have. And you can’t expect one side to operate under one set of rules and the other side to operate under another.”
The idea that Democrats are leaning on outside government groups as a response to being flooded by them in 2010 does, in some respect, ignore the massive amounts of money union groups put into those midterm races. For campaign finance reform advocates — chief among them former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) — it also strikes a poor strategic note: forfeiting the political advantages that come with the moral high ground.
But for the White House and allied officials and campaign committees, it’s not all that difficult a decision. The potential to run tens of millions of dollars worth of television ads attacking Republican candidates is obviously alluring. But so is the capacity to sustain a major opposition research operation, which, according to officials familiar with the plans for these outside groups, will be an organizational imperative for the presidential cycle.
September 20, 2010
The NewYork Times
By Jakie Calmes
President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.
White House and Congressional Democratic strategists are trying to energize dispirited Democratic voters over the coming six weeks, in hopes of limiting the party’s losses and keeping control of the House and Senate. The strategists see openings to exploit after a string of Tea Party successes split Republicans in a number of states, culminating last week with developments that scrambled Senate races in Delaware and Alaska.
“We need to get out the message that it’s now really dangerous to re-empower the Republican Party,” said one Democratic strategist who has spoken with White House advisers but requested anonymity to discuss private strategy talks.
Democrats are divided. The party’s House and Senate campaign committees are resistant, not wanting to do anything that smacks of nationalizing the midterm elections when high unemployment and the drop in Mr. Obama’s popularity have made the climate so hostile to Democrats. Endangered Congressional candidates want any available money to go to their localized campaigns.
Late Sunday night, White House advisers denied that a national ad campaign was being planned. “There’s been no discussion of such a thing at the White House” or the Democratic National Committee, said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s senior adviser.
Proponents say a national ad campaign, most likely on cable television, would complement those individual campaigns and give Democrats a chance to redefine the stakes. The Democratic strategist said voters did not now see much threat to them from a Republican takeover of Congress, even though some Tea Party-backed candidates and other Republicans have taken positions that many voters consider extreme, like shutting down the government to get their way, privatizing Social Security and Medicare and ending unemployment insurance.
So far, Mr. Obama has largely limited his campaigning to fundraisers and small events. That will change soon as he plays a bigger role to rally the flagging faithful, officials said.
To mobilize younger voters who supported him in 2008, Mr. Obama will hold four big campaign-style rallies, the first Sept. 28 at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, with satellite transmission to campuses in other states. The later rallies will be in Ohio, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. He also will send e-mail and record robocalls to spur voters, and conduct a national “town hall” Webcast in October.
“These events are about activating the Obama grass roots to help organizationally in terms of volunteers” for get-out-the-vote efforts, said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “We’re not going to get all the 2008 Obama voters out. We may not get most of them. But in close races, it can be decisive.”
Mr. Obama will also step up his efforts to draw contrasts between the parties, in particular by pounding away on his call for extending the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, except for “millionaires and billionaires.” Republicans want the tax cuts extended for people of all income levels, not just incomes below $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families, as the president has proposed.
Republican strategists remain confident of the party’s prospects for big gains in November, even as they acknowledge that they are unlikely to win the Senate race in Delaware after the victory in the Republican primary there of Christine O’Donnell, a Tea Party-backed candidate with a long record of controversial statements, over Representative Michael N. Castle, a moderate and popular former two-term governor.
Also last week, Alaska’s Senate race was upended when Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost the Republican nomination to a Tea Party adherent, Joe Miller, mounted a write-in candidacy against him, saying, “Alaska is not fair game for outside extremists.”
“While we may have a handful of nominees out of the mainstream, the American people have come to the conclusion this administration and this Congress are out of the mainstream,” said John Weaver, a Republican consultant.
In 1994, Democrats were in power and similarly took hope when Republican primaries yielded candidates deemed too far right for the general election. Yet the wave against Democrats that year was strong enough to carry those newcomers into office and put Republicans in control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.
Except for Ms. O’Donnell in Delaware, Republican nominees that Democrats like to showcase as extremists — including in Senate races in Nevada, Colorado, Kentucky and even blue-state Connecticut — are even with their Democratic rivals in polls or ahead.
And even as the White House maps the final campaign push, advisers are distracted by the expected exit of the chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to run for mayor of Chicago. Mr. Emanuel, who as a member of Congress helped engineer the Democratic takeover of the House in 2006, is among his party’s foremost strategists when it comes to Congressional elections.
Peter M. Rouse, one of Mr. Obama’s closest advisers, has assumed additional responsibilities. But Mr. Rouse, who is intensely private, does not want the high-profile job of chief of staff; instead he is helping Mr. Obama vet names. Leading candidates are said to be Thomas E. Donilon, the deputy national security adviser, and Robert Bauer, the White House counsel.
On top of the personnel distractions at the White House, the strategy discussions with Congressional Democrats come after 21 months of legislative and political battles that have strained relations between the two camps.
Democrats on Capitol Hill say that Obama aides, including Mr. Axelrod, and Jim Messina, the deputy chief of staff, do not consult with them enough and are more concerned with positioning Mr. Obama for his 2012 reelection race than with re-electing Democrats now.
At the Democratic National Committee, aides already have started work on a database to link the most controversial statements of the Tea Party-backed candidates to possible Republican presidential aspirants.
The database will point out, for example, that Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney are supporting the Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada, Sharron Angle, who once said that victims of rape should make “what was really a lemon situation into lemonade,” and Ms. O’Donnell, who has said that having women in the service academies “cripples the readiness of our defense.”
The tactic of linking potential Republican rivals to such statements was already in evidence last week. After Ms. O’Donnell’s victory, a party spokesman told reporters, “The fact that Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin would put their name behind a candidate that believes women who serve our country ‘cripple the readiness of our defense’ make them unfit to be commander-in-chief.”
July 20, 2010
By: Phyllis Schlafly
‘Unsustainable” is a scary word that recently entered political discourse, coming authoritatively from Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf. Unsustainability is the operative moniker for Barack Obama’s massive deficit spending, which Elmendorf said “cannot be solved through minor tinkering.”
The CBO predicts an increase in our public debt from $7.5 trillion at the end of 2009 to $20.3 trillion at the end of 2020 if Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget is implemented. As a percentage of gross domestic product, the debt will rise to 90% from 53%.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., sharpened the focus by asking the CBO director: “What’s going to be necessary (is) either a 25% increase in taxes or a 20% reduction in spending, or some combination thereof. Is that correct?” Elmendorf replied “yes.”
Americans are beginning to wonder if Greece is the picture of the U.S.’ future. But we need look no further than the place where Obama and his team were trained in community organizing and bully tactics to redistribute the wealth: Illinois.
Illinois was the stomping ground for years for Obama, his top advisers Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod, and his appointees such as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. After they promoted themselves to Washington to run the country, other Obama associates who didn’t make the cut continued to run Illinois into the ground, as the Illinois unemployment rate jumped from less than 5% to nearly 11%.
For years, we thought California was the most fiscally irresponsible of all 50 states, but Illinois has now taken the lead. A lengthy news article in the New York Times was headlined: “Illinois Stops Paying Its Bills, but Can’t Stop Digging Hole.”
Under years of Democratic leadership, Illinois has refused to honor its obligations, cut spending or trim its shockingly large deficit, which at $12 billion per year approaches nearly half its budget. As a result, Illinois’ credit rating has been downgraded and it pays a massive amount in interest on its loans.
That’s like a family making $50,000 but spending $75,000 each year. Obviously, it won’t take long before such a family would lose everything it has.
The big-majority Democratic state legislature, defying Illinois’ balanced-budget law, has been passing deficit budgets for years. The new definition of a liberal is no longer tax-and-spend; it’s borrow-and-spend.
It’s no surprise that unemployment keeps increasing, and the reason why the rate isn’t higher than we are told is that the government has stopped counting people who have given up looking for a job. Employers are not hiring because taxes and regulations are expected to rise.
Starting Jan. 1, 28 million middle Americans will be socked with a massive Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which Republicans had suspended. That’s a “gotcha” that penalizes taxpayers in ways they never expect, adding big tax penalties based on an “alternative” way of calculating taxes due.
Upper-income Americans will see a big jump in their marginal tax rates. Their accountants are already telling them that the more they work, the less additional money they will take home, so they may be already slowing down, canceling investments or retiring to draw Social Security.
Hardworking parents who are saving for their children’s future will be hit by the reinstatement of the massive “death tax” on Jan. 1. They may wonder why they work hard and save if their money will go to Uncle Sam and to people who choose not to work.
Marriage penalties will hit couples hard, both in the income tax law and in ObamaCare. Obama’s financial favoritism toward unmarried women, his second biggest voting bloc, has become common knowledge.
Those who choose to control their own health care through Health Savings Accounts will be slapped with new taxes. That’s just one more way to promote Obama’s goal of moving all health care to government control.
Employers are not hiring because they know they will soon be paying not only higher taxes but also more health care costs or penalties. Depreciation allowances for investment in equipment will be lowered from $250,000 to $25,000, which means businesses will do less investing.
Our ability to compete in the marketplace, of course, depends on our advanced research and development. New taxes will hit R&D hard, which means more slowdowns and more outsourcing overseas.
The expiration of the GOP tax cuts will impose the largest tax hikes in history, affecting all taxpayers. The nearly 50% who pay no taxes will also be hurt by more loss of jobs.
There is only one antidote for these depressing prognostications. On Nov. 2, American voters will have the chance to choose real change from Obama’s failed Illinois borrow-and-spend policies by electing Republicans who commit to extend the expiring tax cuts.
July 12, 2010
The New York Times
By: Abby Goodnough
In a private meeting with White House officials this weekend, Democratic governors voiced deep anxiety about the Obama administration’s suit against Arizona’s new immigration law, worrying that it could cost a vulnerable Democratic Party in the fall elections.
While the weak economy dominated the official agenda at the summer meeting here of the National Governors Association, concern over immigration policy pervaded the closed-door session between Democratic governors and White House officials and simmered throughout the three-day event.
At the Democrats’ meeting on Saturday, some governors bemoaned the timing of the Justice Department lawsuit, according to two governors who spoke anonymously because the discussion was private.
“Universally the governors are saying, ‘We’ve got to talk about jobs,’ ” Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, said in an interview. “And all of a sudden we have immigration going on.”
He added, “It is such a toxic subject, such an important time for Democrats.”
The administration seemed to be taking a carrot-and-stick approach on Sunday. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in town to give the governors a classified national security briefing, met one-on-one with Jan Brewer, the Republican who succeeded her as governor of Arizona and ardently supports the immigration law.
About the same time as that meeting, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said on a taped Sunday talk show that the Justice Department could bring yet another lawsuit against Arizona if there is evidence that the immigration law leads to racial profiling.
Ms. Brewer said she and Ms. Napolitano did not discuss the current lawsuit. Instead, in a conversation she described as cordial, they discussed Arizona’s request for more National Guard troops along the border with Mexico, as well as other resources.
The Democrats’ meeting provided a window on tensions between the White House and states over the suit, which the Justice Department filed last week in federal court in Phoenix. Nineteen Democratic governors are either leaving office or seeking re-election this year, and Republicans see those seats as crucial to swaying the 2012 presidential race.
The Arizona law — which Ms. Brewer signed in April and which, barring an injunction, takes effect July 29 — makes it a state crime to be an illegal immigrant there. It also requires police officers to determine the immigration status of people they stop for other offenses if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they might be illegal immigrants.
The lawsuit contends that controlling immigration is a federal responsibility, but polls suggest that a majority of Americans support the Arizona law, or at least the concept of a state having a strong role in immigration enforcement.
Republican governors at the Boston meeting were also critical of the lawsuit, saying it infringed on states’ rights and rallying around Ms. Brewer, whose presence spurred a raucous protest around the downtown hotel where the governors gathered.
“I’d be willing to bet a lot of money that almost every state in America next January is going to see a bill similar to Arizona’s,” said Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican seeking re-election.
But the unease of Democratic governors, seven of whom are seeking re-election this year, was more striking.
“I might have chosen both a different tack and a different time,” said Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado, a Democrat who was facing a tough fight for re-election and pulled out of the race earlier this year. “This is an issue that divides us politically, and I’m hopeful that their strategy doesn’t do that in a way that makes it more difficult for candidates to get elected, particularly in the West.”
The White House would not directly respond to reports of complaints from some Democratic governors.
But David Axelrod, the president’s senior adviser, said on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the president remained committed to passing an immigration overhaul, and that addressing the issue did not mean he was ignoring the economy.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t have a good, healthy debate about the economy and other issues,” Mr. Axelrod said.
Mr. Obama addressed the economy last week during stops in Kansas City and Las Vegas, and has been calling on Congress to offer additional tax relief to small businesses.
The nation’s total federal debt next year is expected to exceed $14 trillion, and Mr. Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, and Mr. Bowles, a Democrat and the White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, offered a gloomy assessment if spending is not brought under control even more.
“This debt is like a cancer,” Mr. Bowles said. “It is truly going to destroy the country from within.”
Still, the issue of immigration commanded as much attention as anything here this weekend.
Ms. Brewer, who was trailed by television cameras all weekend, called the lawsuit “outrageous” and said the state was receiving donations from around the country to help fight it.
“I think Arizona will win,” she said, “and we will take a position for all of America.”
Immigration was not the only topic at the Saturday meeting between Democratic governors and two White House officials — Patrick Gaspard, Mr. Obama’s political director, and Cecilia Munoz, director of intergovernmental affairs. But several governors, including Christine Gregoire of Washington, said it was a particularly heated issue.
Ms. Gregoire, who does not face an election this year, said the White House was doing a poor job of showing the American public that it was working on the problem of illegal immigration.
June 21, 2010
by Alex Spillius
Washington insiders say he will quit within six to eight months in frustration at their unwillingness to “bang heads together” to get policy pushed through.
Mr Emanuel, 50, enjoys a good working relationship with Mr Obama but they are understood to have reached an understanding that differences over style mean he will serve only half the full four-year term.
Friends say he is also worried about burnout and losing touch with his young family due to the pressure of one of most high profile jobs in US politics.
“I would bet he will go after the midterms,” said a leading Democratic consultant in Washington. “Nobody thinks it’s working but they can’t get rid of him – that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to but the consensus is he’ll go.”
An official from the Bill Clinton era said that “no one will be surprised” if Mr Emanuel left after the midterm elections in November, when the Democratic party will battle to save its majorities in the house of representatives and the senate.
It is well known in Washington that arguments have developed between pragmatic Mr Emanuel, a veteran in Congress where he was known for driving through compromises, and the idealistic inner circle who followed Mr Obama to the White House.
His abrasive style has rubbed some people the wrong way, while there has been frustration among Mr Obama’s closest advisers that he failed to deliver a smooth ride for the president’s legislative programme that his background promised.
“It might not be his fault, but the perception is there,” said the consultant, who asked not to be named. “Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform.
“Democrats have not stood behind the president in the way Republicans did for George W Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm’s job.”
There were sharp differences over health care reform, with Mr Emanuel arguing that public hostility about cost should have forced them into producing a scaled down package. Mr Obama and advisers including David Axelrod, the chief strategist, and Valerie Jarrett, a businesswoman and mentor from Chicago, decided to push through with grander legislation anyway.
Mr Emanuel has reportedly told friends that his role as White House chief of staff was “only an eighteen month job” because of its intensity.
Regarded as the most demanding after president, it involves controlling the president’s agenda, enforcing White House message discipline as well as liaising with Congress.
His departure would regarded as another sign of how Mr Obama’s presidency has been far more troubled than expected.
Mr Emanuel has privately expressed a readiness to run for mayor of Chicago, which is also his home town though he was never part of the Obama set and did not endorse the then senator in the Democratic primary in 2008.
That would however depend on Mayor Richard Daley stepping down when he is up for re-election in 2011.
The chief obstacle to taking the White House job originally was doubts about moving his three children from Chicago. According to another former Clinton official, he has let friends know that he is “very sensitive to the idea that he is not a good father for having done this”.
One of Washington’s more colourful characters, Mr Emanuel is the son of Jewish immigrants and was an accomplished ballet dancer at school. He served as a civilian volunteer with the Israeli Defence Force in the 1991 Gulf War.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
March 23, 2010
By: Huma Khan
President Obama signed the historic health care bill into law today, but Republicans are still fighting back with promises of lawsuits and heated rhetoric, including a shot from one GOP governor who blasted what he called Obama’s “nanny nation approach” to government.
Republicans across the country are specifically challenging the mandate in the health care bill that requires every individual to have health insurance, charging that it is unconstitutional.
The individual mandate is an “unprecedented overreach by the federal government forcing individual citizens to buy a good or a service for no other reason then they happen to be alive or a person,” Republican governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty said today on “Good Morning America.”
Pawlenty said he sent a letter to Minnesota’s Democratic attorney general arguing against the constitutionality of the mandate.
“They’ve taken it to this big, federalized, bureaucratic, government-run, kind of nanny nation approach,” Pawlenty said. “I don’t think defending the Constitution and individual’s rights under the Constitution, and the relationship between states and the federal government under the Constitution is a frivolous matter.”
Twelve state attorneys general, all of whom are Republican, have already filed suits to block the health care bill on the grounds that its requirement that everyone have health insurance is unconstitutional. Four state legislatures have already passed laws blocking the bill. On Wednesday, Virginia’s GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell will sign the bill into the state’s law, making it illegal for the federal government to require Americans to purchase health insurance.
Senior White House adviser David Axelrod dismissed the lawsuits, saying the Obama administration is very confident the health care bill “will withstand those legal challenges.
“First of all, every single major piece of legislation that’s ever been passed in this country has engendered lawsuits. That’s the nature of our system, and we expected that,” Axelrod said on “GMA.” “We’re not concerned about these lawsuits.”
Watch live coverage of President Obama signing the health care bill at 11:15 a.m. ET on ABC News network or streamed live on ABCNews.com.
Under the health care bill, by 2014 most Americans would be required to have health insurance or pay a fine, with the exception of low-income Americans. Employers would also be required to provide coverage to their workers, or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker. Companies with fewer than 50 employees, however, are exempt from this rule.
Like many of his GOP counterparts, Pawlenty assailed the partisan nature of the health care bill. The legislation did not garner one single Republican “yes” vote in the House, which passed the bill Sunday night.
“There were 10 or 15 really good reforms that both sides could’ve agreed on,” Pawlenty said. “They [Democrats] were more interested in achieving that ideological or political goal rather than working with Republicans to get something done.”
Republicans are regrouping and gearing up to use the health care bill against their Democratic opponents in November’s midterm elections. Ads blasting Democrats who were going to vote “yes” for the health care bill filled the airwaves well before the bill was even passed.
The Obama administration, however, believes the passage of the health care bill will actually help Democrats in the midterm elections.
“I think the heavy political lift would’ve been is if this bill went down,” Axelrod said. “The reality of this bill is so much different than the caricature they’ve [Republicans and insurance companies] painted.”
As the two parties prep for tight races across the country, Democrats are likely to spin the argument in a way that reflects those who voted against the bill are voting against insurance reforms that would benefit Americans, such as the removal of lifetime caps on coverage or denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
“Ultimately this is not about the politics of November. It’s about the security of Americans now and for future generations,” Axelrod said. “But I also think the politics will work out much better because we did the right thing. … Every Democrat who campaigns on this will be able to campaign proudly.”
After signing the bill, the president made remarks at the Department of Interior in what was mainly a celebratory event. In the audience were lawmakers who voted for the bill, and people whose stories the president has used in the long fight to get the bill passed.
President Obama to Sign Health Care Bill
Even after the president signs the sweeping health care legislation into law this morning, the work on health care is not over. Later this week, the president will return to the stump in Iowa to explain to the public how changes in the health care system will affect them.
The White House picked Iowa City because Obama delivered his first major speech on health care reform as a presidential candidate at the University of Iowa May 29, 2007.
The Senate also has to pass “fixes” to the bill, and Democrats are gearing up for a spate of procedural face-offs with Republicans. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, introduced bills Monday to repeal the health care bill, and GOP lawmakers are vowing to fight the bill tooth and nail.
Some Republicans say their party made a mistake by not making more of an effort at bipartisanship, now that the bill is becoming law.
“A lot of the things Republicans said are going to be discredited. It is going to be a very painful and difficult situation for Republicans to work their way out of,” said David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush who is now a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
Frum dubbed the passage of the health care bill as the GOP’s Waterloo.
“If you lose something as important as this, and you pick up some seats in 2010, great, maybe you lose them in 2014,” Frum said. “This bill will still be there. This bill will still be there forever.”
The Congressional Budget Office predicted the bill would cost $938 billion — mainly through a mix of tax increases and reduction in Medicare spending — and would reduce the federal deficit by $142 billion in the first 10 years. The health care bill would extend insurance to 32 million more Americans.
Some components of the health care bill will take effect right away, including helping older Americans pay for prescription drugs and preventing insurance companies from denying coverage to children based on pre-existing conditions. Others, such as the individual mandate and more stringent regulations on insurance companies barring them from placing lifetime caps on coverage, or denying adults based on pre-existing conditions, won’t take effect until 2014.
October 19, 2009
The White House escalated its offensive against Fox News on Sunday by urging other news organizations to stop “following Fox” and instead join the administration’s attempt to marginalize the channel.
White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told CNN that President Obama does not want “the CNNs and the others in the world [to] basically be led in following Fox.”
Obama senior adviser David Axelrod went further by calling on media outlets to join the administration in declaring that Fox is “not a news organization.”
“Other news organizations like yours ought not to treat them that way,” Axelrod counseled ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “We’re not going to treat them that way.”
By urging other news outlets to side with the administration, Obama aides officials dramatically upped the ante in the war of words that began earlier this month, when White House communications director Anita Dunn branded Fox “opinion journalism masquerading as news.”
On Sunday, Fox’s Chris Wallace retorted: “We wanted to ask Dunn about her criticism, but, as they’ve done every week since August, the White House refused to make any administration officials available to ‘FOX News Sunday’ to talk about this or anything else.”
The White House stopped providing guests to ‘Fox News Sunday’ after Wallace fact-checked controversial assertions made by Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in August. Dunn said fact-checking an administration official was “something I’ve never seen a Sunday show do.”
“She criticized ‘FOX News Sunday’ last week for fact-checking — fact-checking — an administration official,” Wallace said Sunday. “They didn’t say that our fact-checking was wrong. They just said that we had dared to fact-check.”
“Let’s fact-check Anita Dunn, because last Sunday she said that Fox ignores Republican scandals, and she specifically mentioned the scandal involving Nevada senator John Ensign,” Wallace added. “A number of Fox News shows have run stories about Senator Ensign. Anita Dunn’s facts were just plain wrong.”
Fox News senior vice president Michael Clemente said: “Surprisingly, the White House continues to declare war on a news organization instead of focusing on the critical issues that Americans are concerned about like jobs, health care and two wars. The door remains open and we welcome a discussion about the facts behind the issues.”
Observers on both sides of the political aisle questioned the White House’s decision to continue waging war on a news organization, saying the move carried significant political risks.
Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said on CNN: “I don’t always agree with the White House. And on this one here I would disagree.”
David Gergen, who has worked for Democratic and Republican presidents, said: “I totally agree with Donna Brazile.” Gergen added that White House officials have “gotten themselves into a fight they don’t necessarily want to be in. I don’t think it’s in their best interest.”
“The faster they can get this behind them, the more they can treat Fox like one other organization, the easier they can get back to governing, and then put some people out on Fox,” Gergen said on CNN. “I mean, for goodness sakes — you know, you engage in the debate.
What Americans want is a robust competition of ideas, and they ought to be willing to go out there and mix it up with some strong conservatives on Fox, just as there are strong conservatives on CNN like Bill Bennett.”
Bennett expressed outrage that Dunn told an audience of high school students this year that Mao Tse-tung, the founder of communist China, was one of “my favorite political philosophers.”
“Having the spokesman do this, attack Fox, who says that Mao Zedong is one of the most influential figures in her life, was not…a small thing; it’s a big thing,” Bennett said on CNN. “When she stands up, in a speech to high school kids, says she’s deeply influenced by Mao Zedong, that — I mean, that is crazy.”
Fox News contributor Karl Rove, who was the top political strategist to former President George W. Bush, said: “This is an administration that’s getting very arrogant and slippery in its dealings with people. And if you dare to oppose them, they’re going to come hard at you and they’re going to cut your legs off.”
“This is a White House engaging in its own version of the media enemies list. And it’s unhelpful for the country and undignified for the president of the United States to so do,” Rove added. “That is over- the-top language. We heard that before from Richard Nixon.”
Media columnist David Carr of the New York Times warned that the White House war on Fox “may present a genuine problem for Mr. Obama, who took great pains during the campaign to depict himself as being above the fray of over-heated partisan squabbling.”
“While there is undoubtedly a visceral thrill in finally setting out after your antagonists, the history of administrations that have successfully taken on the media and won is shorter than this sentence,” Carr wrote over the weekend. “So far, the only winner in this latest dispute seems to be Fox News. Ratings are up 20 percent this year.”
He added: “The administration, by deploying official resources against a troublesome media organization, seems to have brought a knife to a gunfight.”
October 7, 2009
New York Times
By Brian Steltar
Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, met with the White House adviser David Axelrod last month.
And it is a testament to Fox’s influence that that the meeting is newsworthy at all. Politico broke the news Tuesday afternoon, prompting speculation about the nature of the conversation.
A Fox press representative confirmed that the two men met over a cup of coffee last month during Mr. Obama’s visit to the United Nations. The representative called it a “cordial conversation.” Details of the conversation have not dribbled out yet.
“I’ve known Roger for a long time,” Mr. Axelrod told Time magazine in an e-mail message. “We chatted from time to time during the campaign. I was going to be in N.Y., so we got together for a cup of coffee.”
The highly popular Fox News is a perplexing channel for the Obama administration, given its propensity for political commentary by conservatives like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. In June, Mr. Obama said, “I’ve got one television station that is entirely devoted to attacking my administration,” adding, “You’d be hard-pressed if you watched the entire day to find a positive story about me on that front.” The Fox host Bill O’Reilly and others assumed that he was speaking about Fox.
TVNewser notes that Fox News chose not to carry a couple of Mr. Obama’s speeches last month, but that “on the Saturday following the Axelrod-Ailes Manhattan chat,” Fox carried the president’s entire speech at a Congressional Black Caucus event “while MSNBC and CNN did not.”