Chuck Todd Declares ‘This Just Looks Bad’ for Obama, But NBC News Skips Access-Buying at White House

Picking up on a Saturday front page New York Times story on how the Obama campaign is selling access to the White House through its newly formed Organizing for Action group, a revelation ignored all weekend by ABC, CBS and NBC, on Monday’s Daily Rundown on MSNBC, Chuck Todd declared: “This just looks bad. It looks like the White House is selling access.” He pointed out the hypocrisy, recalling: “Offering this kind of access to big donors was precisely what Obama was campaigning against in 2007 and 2008.”

Yet, though Todd is NBC’s chief White House correspndent, nothing about it aired on NBC’s Today, Nightly News nor Meet the Press all weekend, Monday or Tuesday morning.

Monday’s Nightly News had time for Andrea Mitchell’s travelogue with new Secretary of State John Kerry, while the show devoted another panicked sequester story in which Peter Alexander relayed White House propaganda on dire cuts:

In California, 9,600 low income students could lose their financial aide. In Texas, nearly $68 million for teachers and schools could be slashed. And in Virginia, 90,000 civilian Defense Department employees could be furloughed. The President punctuated the urgency...

While ignoring the blatant Obama administration hypocrisy, the networks made time for other noteworthy events. ABC’s World News on Saturday, for instance, dedicated a full story for First Lady Michelle Obama’s “mom dancing” the night before on another network – NBC’s Late Night.

(FNC’s Special Report with Bret Baier on Monday night focused extensively on the Organizing for Action access-buying, yet was ignored by all three broadcast network evening newscasts. It earned one exchange on Tuesday’s CBS This Morning between Norah O’Donnell and John Dickerson, but zilch again on Today and ABC’s Good Morning America.)

Todd, on the Monday, February 25 Daily Rundown on MSNBC:

The New York Times reported over the weekend that donors who contribute and raise $500,000 for President Obama’s Organizing for Action will get special access to the President. That’s right, they’re selling access to the President. The new group has an ambitious goal -- to raise $50 million to convert the President’s re-election campaign into an advocacy network and they’re offering access. The New York Times says quote: “Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the President along with other meetings at the White House.”

Excuse us? This just looks bad. It looks like the White House is selling access. The definition of how you define selling access. If you believe money has a stranglehold over the entire political system, this is ceding the moral high ground. And the President always has, from the moment he first announced his presidential bid in Springfield, six years ago, he stressed the need to curb the influence of special interests in Washington.

OBAMA, February 10, 2007: The cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests who's turnd our government into a game only they can afford to play, they write the checks and you get stuck with the bill. They get the access while you get to write a letter. They think they own this government. But we’re here today to take it back.

OBAMA, February 10, 2007: Even if they're not asking for quid pro quo, it means that the people you’re talking to all the time are folks who they're not struggling.

OBAMA, March 19, 2008: I don’t want somebody else pulling my strings. So everybody said, well, he's not going to be able to compete.

OBAMA, April 11, 2008: This is the major disagreement that I have with Senator Clinton. She’s a smart and capable person but she is of Washington.

OBAMA, March 26, 2008: When she takes more money from lobbyists and special interests than any candidate, including john McCain, that shows that she doesn't have a sense that we've got to change our business is done in Washington.

OBAMA, January 15 2008: Ultimately, what I’d like to see is a system of public financing of campaigns and I'm a co-sponsor of the proposal that's in the senate right now. That's what we have to fight for.

TODD: That was candidate obama during the 2010 campaign. The President railed against super pacs, then made an end justifies the means argument in 2012.

Look, the Obama folks can rationalize this all they want. Yes, they’ll be disclosing the donors. Yes they’ll be accepting small donor money but this is the campaign finance world we live in after Citizens United. But offering this kind of access to big donors was precisely what Obama was campaigning against in 2007 and 2008. Every political strategist involved in the 2012 presidential campaign told us on this show, you’ll recall, that both sides of the aisle, they all believe the campaign finance system is a mess, and yet we continue to see a perpetuation of the so-called flawed system like what we see with what's going on here. This is how a bad system becomes worse. Wonder what candidate obama would say about this.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center