Ex-Newsweek Editor Howard Fineman Counsels Obama on How to Spin Shooting for Political Gain

Within hours of the mass shooting in Arizona, former Newsweek editor Howard Fineman on Saturday was offering Barack Obama tips on how to manipulate the outburst of violence for his political advantage.

Making comparisons to Bill Clinton's response to the Oklahoma City bombing, he lobbied, "...Obama may be able to remind voters of what they like best about him: his sensible demeanor. Amid the din and ferocity of our political culture, he respectfully keeps his voice down, his emotions in check and his mind open."

The piece, which appeared on the left-wing Huffington Post, featured this coldly calculating follow-up: "That is the pitch, at least. The trick is to make it without seeming to be trying to make it. He will, after all, be speaking at a funeral."

Fineman urged Obama to portray himself and the wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who has a lifetime American Conservative Union score of 14 , as thoughtful centrists. He wrote, "He and Giffords think of themselves as fellow travelers on a middle path of civility and compromise in a dangerous world. The president will likely argue that, implicitly if not explicitly."

Fineman wasn't the only one who began measuring this tragedy for politicl gain. The Wall Street Journal's John Fund wrote:

Politico.com quoted one veteran Democratic operative saying that the Obama White House should use the tragedy to score political points. "They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers," he said. "Just like the Clinton White House deftly pinned the Oklahoma City bombing on the militia and anti-government people." Indeed, at the time of the bombing in 1995, then-Clinton strategist Dick Morris had penned a memo on how the tragedy could lead to a "permanent possible gain" because it "sets up Extremist issue vs. Republicans."

— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org