UPDATE (below the fold): Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity referenced the video from this post on his January 20th show.
The Word of the Day is: Context.
First, as to the video at right. Its context is the May 9, 2009 White House Correspondents Association Dinner. At which White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel uttered the following:
"When you think about the First Amendment...you think it's highly overrated."
Emanuel said this to an unidentified entertainment reporter (I did not toil too strenuously to ascertain his identity). But said scribe seemed a little bewildered by Emanuel's assertion, despite the obvious mirth in Rahm's face as he delivers the line - at the Correspondents' Dinner. The irony appears to escape the man with the microphone.
But given how the Administration has gone on to handle all things First Amendment, perhaps this journalist is not humor-addled, but prescient. Let us now place Emanuel's remark into the proper Administrative context.
What politicians say to get elected can come back to haunt them and vilifying the lobbyist profession to score campaign points is going to do that to President Barack Obama, according to MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-anchor Joe Scarborough.
"Listen, the Obama administration is in trouble right now," Scarborough said. "We got a lot of friends in the Obama administration right now and they're in trouble because Barack Obama made promises during the 2008 campaign that he would not allow lobbyists to work in his White House. Well sometimes you want lobbyists working in your White House. You want lobbyists working in Congress. You want lobbyists working for the city of Houston, Texas, because you don't get that job as lobbyist because you got a good smile. You get the job as lobbyist because you understand an issue better than everybody else."
Slam dunk, or nothing-but-net three-pointer? Either way, with a line he got off today, Chuck Todd has surely scored some points in the battle over Pres. Obama's all-male White House basketball games.
The NBC News political director/chief WH correspondent took his shot while discussing the issue with Andrea Mitchell—whose sympathies were clearly with the distaff side—during the 1PM hour slot on MSNBC today.
Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who has covered every president since Jack Kennedy, advised the White House to abandon their attacks on Fox News today. She attributed the administration's visceral reaction to the cable outlet to a naive sense of invincibility generally held by new presidents (video embedded below the fold).
Asked by Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' what "we want our president to know and do," in reference to the title of her new book, Thomas immediately replied "stay out of these fights... They can only take you down. You can't kill the messenger."
Thomas's coauthor, CQ reporter Craig Crawford, added that "presidents are better off, Joe, when they punch up and not down."
Last fall, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel remarked, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before."
That quote has become part of a rallying cry for conservatives, that those currently in power are trying to create the perception of a crisis to force things through the legislative process that couldn't be done otherwise. That has been dismissed by those on the left as fear-mongering and the party in power is acting in good faith based on what their constituents want.
But on MSNBC's Oct. 14 "Countdown," Newsweek senior Washington correspondent Howard Fineman found fault with President Barack Obama's administration for not living up to Emanuel's expectations. On Oct. 14, the Senate Judiciary Committee toyed with the idea of stripping health insurance providers of their antitrust exemption and "Countdown" Keith Olbermann suggested members of Congress hold that exemption over insurance companies' heads to force them to go along with the Senate's idea of health insurance reform.
The progressive mindset is a curious one, as evidenced by New York Times columnist and Nobel Economics Prize recipient Paul Krugman.
Krugman appeared on MSNBC's Sept. 23 "The Rachel Maddow Show" and lamented that the Obama Administration missed the opportunity the recent financial crisis offered to fundamentally change how the American economy operates. Host Rachel Maddow asked Krugman what the Great Depression taught economists when it comes to avoiding a repeat.
"It taught us a lot about how to avoid one, which is that you really have to, have to put some constraints. I mean, it sort of roughly, banking is very useful but extremely dangerous and banks have to have all kinds of - you know, fencing put around them as a protection. They have to have some guarantees so that we don't have bank runs, so people know their money is safe. But then, we also have some regulation so that bankers don't take huge risks with other people's money on a ‘heads I win, tails you lose' basis."
"This whole administration is as radical and far left as any that the country has ever had. What they're trying to do here to communications is simply stifle dissenting voices. They're trying to wipe out any opposition...And the things that he is talking about doing -- and I watched your show for the first half hour today -- and the things he is talking about doing to shut down radio are simply un-American...It is a dangerous time. It is the most dangerous time in my life for freedom and liberty in this country."
So said conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh to Fox News's Glenn Beck Wednesday evening.
What follows are some highlights of this discussion about how the Obama administration is attempting to silence free speech in a country that was founded on such a principle (video embedded below the fold with full transcript):
In this report we get a nice one-two punch. Not only are we seeing Democrats once again refusing even a tiny compromise with Republicans on Obama's takeover of nearly 20% of our economy with his healthcare plans, but we also get to see another example of why Huffington Post is not journalism. I like a nice one-two punch for a Wednesday.
For one thing, the HuffPo article hilariously calls Democrat pitbull Rahm Emanuel a “conservative Democrat.” But let's start with the more important political point and deal with the HuffPo chicanery second.
The Obama White House revised up 2009's budget deficit projections to $1.8 trillion Monday, and the press blamed it on George W. Bush.
Without considering how the current budget passed last year with virtually no Republican support, and that all spending associated with this record-breaking deficit was either approved by Senator Obama or signed into law by President Obama, news outlets echoed what Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag ascribed as the culprit in his blog:
The deficits in these years, now projected to be 12.9 percent and 8.5 percent of GDP, respectively, are driven in large part by the economic crisis inherited by this Administration.
The New York Times accepted this assessment without question in its article on the subject Tuesday:
White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel made the rounds of the TV anchors Wednesday. Though President Obama has exploited the economic problems to push his big spending plans, ABC’s Charles Gibson empathized with how he inherited a bad economy as he ran Emanuel’s explanation about “how the President handles the severe problems he's inherited” and then cued up Emanuel to agree it’s “fair to say though that he ran for one job and got another given the condition of the economy as he takes office?”
Turning to George Stephanopoulos for an assessment of Obama’s first 100 days, Stephanopoulos trumpeted how “his number one accomplishment has been to inspire a sense of confidence in the country,” as evidenced by how the “right direction” polling number as now at “the highest level in six years,” and so that confidence “not only gives President Obama a political cushion, but it could have a real world economic impact.” That spin nearly exactly matched what Emanuel told CBS’s Katie Couric, as both forwarded the “sense of confidence” phrase, when she asked him to name the administration’s “greatest accomplishment?” Emanuel answered:
A renewed sense of hope in America and a sense that we can actually meet these challenges. They weren't so big that we couldn't do 'em. And we've helped give America that sense of confidence again, that we can meet these challenges and this country is headed, finally, in the right direction.
So, did Emanuel channel Stephanopoulos’ advice on how best to tout Obama’s achievements or did Stephanopoulos just repeat Emanuel’s talking point he heard in one of their regular phone conversations? Or is it just a coincidence the press corps and the Obama White House think alike?
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz has let the cat out of the bag in the Post's April 27 issue about a regularly scheduled secret media dinner attended by some of the top left-wing journalists in the country. But it isn't just the lefty scribblers that have attended these secret, off-the-record dinners for these gatherings have each featured a guest. Rahm Emanuel, Sec. of the Treasury Tim Geithner, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke have all recently had their chance to schmooze the press and guide them with the spin desired by the White House.
So, not only does Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel have secret daily phone calls with which to program the media's coverage of the White House, now it is revealed that Emanuel and other Obama staffers have been attending secret dinners to help the press understand what the White House wants reported? As Kurtz says, it all sounds "rather cozy," doesn't it?
Spreading the WordMedia Research Center Founder and President and NewsBusters.org Publisher Brent Bozell issued the following statement on the meteoric rise in the ratings Rush Limbaugh has enjoyed since the inception of the Obama White House and the Democrats' all-out coordinated attack against him.
As announced yesterday, audience numbers surged for Rush-carrying stations across the country, including in several of the nation's largest markets like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston. Since the orchestrated campaign continued into March, ratings could reach even greater heights for this month.
In an appearance on the March 27 Fox & Friends, BMI's Dan Gainor discussed White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's brief, lucrative tenure on the board of Freddie Mac.
New reporting by the Chicago Tribune has updated the story BMI chronicled during the Obama transition of how Emanuel made more than $300,000 advising the Government Sponsored Enterprise at the very time it was engaged in unethical and illegal behavior. The mainstream print and broadcast media have mostly ignored Emanuel’s Freddie Mac history, as well has Barney Frank’s Fannie Mae connections because “very obviously they have an agenda,” Gainor said.
In January, Politico's John F. Harris exposed a liberal cabal involving telephone calls between White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, and CNN's Paul Begala and James Carville.
Since then, Americans on both sides of the aisle have wondered just how far-reaching the political influence of these four is on the mainstream media.
More importantly, just how much is the Obama administration, via its press contacts that worked in the White House before, involved in controlling the message being disseminated?
Consider the following sequence of events involving Stephanopoulos that began with a March 13 press release by the Democratic National Committee:
I met up with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos at the National Capital chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals’ Annual Professional Night this evening and asked if he had strategy session conference calls with aides in the White House as reported by Politico’s John F. Harris.
Politico's Michael Calderone recently reported that Kerry Smith, ABC News Sr.VP for editorial quality, wrote that Stephanopoulos "speaks to Mr. Emanuel, a friend he has known for nearly two decades, as a source, just as he speaks to countless sources across the political spectrum each and every day. That is his job as an anchor and reporter and one that he does according to the highest standards."
Have you wondered why there have been so many hit pieces lately about Rush Limbaugh?
Well, new revelations suggest that Democrats began a smear campaign against the conservative talk radio host last October, and now it's really caught steam.
Apparently, the Left feared its message would be muted without having George W. Bush to blame for all the world's problems, and Limbaugh made a nice substitute as the object of their disaffection to distract the public from real issues.
Given White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's connections to key media figures such as ABC's George Stephanopoulos as well as CNN's Paul Begala and James Carville, disseminating the hate was a piece of cake.
Back on January 29, we discussed the daily strategy phone call engineered by Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for friendly TV commentators and "reporters." Politico reported that Emanuel has a daily phone conference call with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, and CNN's James Carville and Paul Begala. With Rush Limbaugh's raucous CPAC address, as he termed it his "first address to the nation," we can see at least one example of what is likely an attack strategy resulting from the Emanuel phone session with a rush to bash Rush the day after the appearance. [Image credit: politico.com]
As soon as the sun rose on the day after Limbaugh's CPAC appearance, three of the four of the phone call participants attacked Limbaugh with the same talking points. It seems obvious that they coordinated their attack together in the Obama secret strategy session. It is amazing that a president's staff can have such power over major media figures without a peep being heard from those that only months ago bashed former presidents over a perceived undue, even "dangerous," control of the media.
On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, FNC host Bill Hemmer brought up the media’s lack of interest in Barack Obama’s plans to exert control over the 2010 census from the White House, as the show’s panel discussed Republican Senator Judd Gregg’s decision not to accept appointment to the position of Commerce Secretary. Hemmer teased the show: "Is the White House effort to control the census a play to control the vote? And did most of the major media miss this major story?"
Conservative panelist Jim Pinkerton blamed Gregg’s decision on White House Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel’s planned involvement in the census: "What clearly got under his skin was the issue of the census and the clear realization, as Republicans were pointing out to him, that the census, the biggest thing the Commerce Department has to do... And for Gregg to be told that Rahm Emanuel is going to be running that from the White House and changing the numbers around, I think, was too humiliating for him..." On the February 9, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, correspondent Jim Angle had notably related: "Lawmakers such as Representative Barbara Lee reportedly yelled at a White House official until he agreed that Gregg would not be left in charge of [the census]."
The Washington Times and New York Daily News, among other news outlets, have reported that, as a member of Congress, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel received rent-free accommodations from Representative Rosa DeLauro for five years, raising the question of whether Emanuel properly complied with gift rules for House members and whether he should have paid taxes on the imputed income of the gift.
Last summer, liberals went after Republican Senator Norm Coleman for paying an allegedly below-market rate for his Capitol Hill apartment, with the George Soros-funded Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) demanding an ethics committee investigation.
The big media bias question regarding Emanuel is whether his longtime friend, ABC chief Washington correspondent and host of This Week George Stephanopoulos, knew about the arrangement with DeLauro and her husband, pollster Stan Greenberg — who worked alongside Emanuel and Stephanopoulos in the 1992 Clinton campaign.
On Sunday's "Good Morning America," journalist George Stephanopoulos asserted that "some White House officials I've talked to concede" that Barack Obama has placed too much emphasis on gathering Republican support for the stimulus bill now before Congress. Now, considering that the Politico claimed on January 27 that Stephanopoulos has been participating in daily phone calls with White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, one wonders if Emanuel was the aforementioned "White House official." If so, was this a criticism by Emanuel of his boss?
In the original Politico article, John Harris wrote about daily strategy sessions between Stephanopoulos and the White House chief of staff, as well as Democratic pundits/strategists James Carville and Paul Begala. Harris explained, "And in any given news cycle, it is quite likely that Washington’s prevailing political and media interpretation — at least on the Democratic side — is being hatched on these calls."
The Washington Post's Mary Ann Akers, aka "The Sleuth," has (Tom) Delay Derangement Syndrome (DDS), and she's got it bad.
Akers's DDS outbreak occurred as she reported on the plan by the Obama Administration to have the director of the Census Bureau report to the White House instead of the Director of the Commerce Department.
(On Thursday evening, after my original post [at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog], CQpolitics.com separately updated its original coverage by reporting that "the White House but sought to define the relationship as one in which the director would 'work closely with' rather than report to President Obama’s senior staff." Uh huh.)
As if to justify the administration's plan, Akers incoherently compared the Obama White House's attempt to coopt the entire Census Bureau to what Texan Delay and other Republicans did a few years ago to maximize the number of GOP-majority districts in one state.
Here are the opening paragraphs of Akers's Friday evening bellyache (link is in original):
Last week, Media Research Center President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell issued a statement expressing displeasure with "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos, who, reported the January 27 edition of Politico, has daily message and strategy chats with Obama chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel and fellow Clinton administration alumni James Carville and Paul Begala. [click here]
The Media Research Center's MRCAction.org quickly took action, working with its grassroots members to present ABC News with a recusal petition (accessible here) and by informing members how they can call ABC News to complain about Stephanopoulos conflict of interest.
Below is an excerpt of Friday's MRCAction Alert, including information on how to call ABC News:
"What’s worse than the liberal media’s sycophantic coverage of President Barack Obama? ABC’s George Stephanopoulos actively helping design and deliver the Administration’s strategy and message - which he is then charged with reporting."
That was MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell's reaction to Tuesday's report by Politico that the "This Week" anchor has daily strategy and message chats with former Clinton administration alumni: Rahm Emanuel -- Obama's White House chief of staff -- and CNN pundits Paul Begala and James Carville.
“For Stephanopoulos, the line between journalist and liberal strategist would be completely obliterated were it not for the fact that it apparently never existed at all. He didn’t fail in his attempt at transformation from liberal operative to journalist – he never made the effort," Bozell concluded.
Lynn Sweet wants the Obama team to come clean over its contacts with Blago. David Shuster has a different concern. He's hoping the media won't get "adversarial" once the Obama folks get around to releasing their report about who said what to whom.
Shuster made his pre-emptive plea for good media manners on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the MSNBC show Shuster has recently begun hosting now that David Gregory has moved on to Meet The Press.
Sweet, of the Chicago Sun-Times, began with a reasonable reporter's take on the pending release by Team Obama of its accounting of contacts between the President-elect's representatives and Blago and his minions: take your time but be complete. In contrast, Shuster's focus was his demand for media decorum and desire to exculpate Rahm Emanuel before even learning the facts.
What a difference an administration makes. During the Bush years, if a spokesman or the president himself attempted to dodge a tough question, the media would go into their Sam Donaldson impressions and pundits would see a conspiracy of silence.
But now that it's Obama, the dodging that was once denounced is suddenly celebrated. Thus, appearing on today's Morning Joe, Larry O'Donnell declared "impressive" Pres.-elect Obama's stiff-arming yesterday of a reporter who dared asked Blago-related questions.
The video clip also includes a gratuitous bit of nastiness from Obama adviser David Axelrod aimed at Mika Brzezinski.
Which would be the safer place to be for a political figure who's received death threats?:
a. A school concert in a public venue. b. A press conference in the company of the President-elect of the United States of America.
If you answered 'b,' you're thinking like me and presumably most people. If you answered 'a,' you're A.B. Stoddard. The associate editor of "The Hill" offered up the strange excuse that death threats are preventing Rahm Emanuel from attending press conferences in the course of an MSNBC appearance this afternoon during which she also claimed that "President-elect Obama is taking steps to be as forthcoming and as open and as transparent as he promised he would be."
On Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC, during the show’s regular "Miller Time" segment, comedian Dennis Miller used humor to make a serious point about Barack Obama’s connections to corrupt and questionable characters in Illinois, and whether the President-elect was aware of the darker sides of his colleagues. Miller: "It’s just nice to know that my President-elect went through that entire system – all of these guys – Ayers, Blagojevich, Rezko, the Reverend Wright – and he didn’t notice any of them. At his worst, he is oblivious. At his absolute worst, he is disingenuous. He had to know something about some of these guys. ... We’re told that he’s the smartest guy on the planet on one hand. In the other hand, he never noticed any of this stuff. Come on, get the antenna up there, Barack. You got to wake up."
During a report on Thursday’s American Morning, CNN correspondent Alina Cho used personal anecdotes in attempt to show how Barack Obama’s Chief-of-Staff-designate Rahm Emanuel has “softened over the years.” Cho cited the outgoing Illinois congressman’s unnamed rabbi, who said he is “really just a nice guy, intensely spiritual, even polite.” She also stated how despite being labeled a “street fighter with a killer instinct,” Emanuel also has more of sensitive side: “His congressional colleagues say he’s the kind of guy who will chew you out then send you a cheesecake.”
A clip of comedian Andy Samberg doing an impression of Emanuel on Saturday Night Live preceded Cho’s report, which began 18 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of the CNN program. The correspondent began by bringing up Emanuel’s notorious use of “colorful language,” which Samberg parodied in his sketch. She also contrasted the “street fighter with a killer instinct” imagery with his rabbi’s “nice guy” label.
The major broadcast networks have so far lavished praise on President-elect Barack Obama for his Cabinet choices, in contrast to the airing of complaints from liberals over President Bush’s choice of John Ashcroft as Attorney General eight years ago. But an exception came on Sunday as the CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell informed viewers that "not everyone is happy about some of Mr. Obama’s picks." But rather than examining whether conservatives will be unhappy with the liberal views of Obama’s Cabinet members, CBS’s Randall Pinkston instead focused on liberals who believe the President-elect is not delivering on his campaign promise of "change," even playing a clip of political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson claiming that Obama had chosen a number of "Clintonesque, moderate, centrist Democrats."
Remember the years of media flak President George W. Bush received for his alleged use for political gain of first the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and then the related Afghanistan and Iraq Wars?
Will the press be as vociferous now? Incoming Obama Administration Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, speaking on Wednesday on and to the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, stated outright his desire to make political hay with the ongoing travails of the U.S. and global economy:
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."
Wonder why President-elect Obama resigned from the Senate so early (while Vice President-elect Joe Biden remains an active member) and is hanging back, not wading into the debate over bailouts etc, and naming candidates for nearly every Cabinet post save Treasury (the man or woman who will have $350 billion to dispense when he/she walks through the door)?