Michael Barone: If Bush Were a Dictator, New York Times Editor Would Be 'In Chains'

October 30th, 2008 5:18 PM

If President Bush is exhibiting dictatorial behaviors, the editor and publisher of The New York Times would be facing criminal prosecution. That hypothesis come from pundit and "U.S. News" columnist Michael Barone. Appearing on the October 30 edition of "Fox and Friends," Barone laughed off outrageous charges of a Bush dictatorship. He then noted that the true anti-civil libertarian measures are coming from the left, particularly Barack Obama and his supporters.

Barone exemplified such actions by noting Democratic attorneys calling for libel prosecution of Obama’s critics, but not McCain’s. Barone added "that would represent the first time that we have criminalized political speech since the expiration of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1801-1802." Barone also noted Obama’s co-sponsorship of the Fairness Doctrine, a backdoor way to censor conservative talk radio.

Barone of course also alluded to the media’s love affair with Barack Obama and their concern about harming the senator’s "electoral chances."

The transcript follows.

GRETCHEN CARLSON: Sometimes name calling can be downright nasty and some people on the left have talked about President Bush as a "dictator," people in Europe as well. Michael Barone is going to sort this out for us -- he’s a senior writer for U.S. News and World Report -- Because how would this affect whomever is elected as our new president. Good morning to you Michael.

MICHAEL BARONE: Good morning to you Gretchen. Nice to be with you.

CARLSON: So is that label of President Bush accurate? And as we look down the path now in just five days as to who will be our president, will we hear the same thing coming out of those people’s mouths?

BARONE: Well, I suppose you might think that, that label of dictator against President Bush was accurate if we had a picture of the publisher and editor of The New York Times in chains under indictment for printing material uncomplimentary to the administration. We haven’t seen that headline. We haven’t- that hasn’t existed. The New York Times continues to publish in the media- most of the mainstream media presents a unrelenting critique of the Bush administration as is its right under the First Amendment of the Constitution. I think what I find more disturbing on the political landscape is the move to suppress political speech from the left, from Barack Obama’s supporters. During this campaign- this fall campaign and the city circuit attorney of St. Louis County circuit attorney, both Democrats, said that they were going to prosecute -- bring criminal libel prosecution for, quote, "false," unquote, statements about Barack Obama. As I understand, they didn’t mention any other candidates, simply Obama. That would represent the first time that we have criminalized political speech since the expiration of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1801-1802. That’s a pretty chilling -- that is the sort of thing that has what First Amendment scholars call a chilling affect on, on First Amendment protected speech. We haven’t seen this from the right. We have seen it from the left.

BRIAN KILMEADE: Okay let me ask you this.

BARONE: Another doctrine-

KILMEADE: Go ahead. Go ahead.

BARONE: Yeah Brian- Yeah another suppression along those lines I think is the attempt by congressional Democrats, co-sponsored I believe by Barack Obama, to eliminate -- to restore this so called "Fairness Doctrine" in broadcasting. This is a transparent, by imposing an equal time requirement, to eliminate, rub out, abolish the one communications medium that’s been dominated by conservatives, talk radio. This is, this is an a -- this speaks an attitude that says "when I hear speech I don’t like, I want to shut it down." That’s not really consistent with our First Amendment.

KILMEADE: How does this all figure into some of the questions many people still have about Barack Obama and his connections, whether it’s the Columbia professor, or some of these other people, and tapes are suppressed? Does that give you -- does that add to your worry should he become president?

BARONE: Well, obviously, Barack Obama has got some -- a lot of people in the press who, let’s say, have taken a point of view that’s convenient to his campaign. They have been much more curious about the contents in Sarah Palin’s wastebasket in Wasilla, Alaska than they have about Barack Obama’s chairmanship of the board of a $100 million education project that was co-founded by the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers. And now as your previous segment showed, Brian, you’ve got "The Los Angeles Times" refusing to release tape of the celebration of this man, Khalidi, who has supported the PLO and its terrorist period, which Barack Obama and I gather may have spoken at. So what’s the rationale for this? "Well, we promised the source we wouldn’t do it or something." I think the clear rationale is a lot of people at the mainstream media have a very little appetite for advancing stories that might hurt the electoral chances of Barack Obama.

CARLSON: Yeah, it will be interesting to see what kind of stories are written after the fact. Michael Barone always great to see you. Thanks for joining us this morning.