on the white house’s enemies list and the free press

In this June 6, 2008, file photo President Barack Obama huddles with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

In this June 6, 2008, file photo President Barack Obama huddles with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

there is an old adage: never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. this is as true for joe citizen as it is for white house.

the obama administration recently experienced another humiliating, yet little publicized setback stemming from their apparent policy of playing nice only with those organizations they feel support them. the white house recently attempted to make newly appointed ‘pay czar’ kenneth feinberg, who will oversee the obama administration’s efforts to limit the pay of top executives of companies that received federal bailout money, available for interviews to every member of the white house press pool except fox news. bad move. this kind of tit-for-tat access makes president obama look petty, and only reminds the nation of the corrupt, vindictive, and corrosive political environment in chicago that produced the likes of rod blagojevich, richard j. daley, and president obama.

how powerful is the press? and how wrong was it of the obama white house to attempt to grant press access only to those networks they believe provide favorable coverage of them? despite being competitors, the press stuck together!

the Washington bureau chiefs of the five TV networks decided that none of their reporters would interview Feinberg unless Fox News was included.

good for them. and shame on the white house power brokers. whether you love or hate fox news, one simply cannot pick and choose with whom one is going to deal as an elected official. the press in this country are granted nearly unfettered access to all things. anyone remotely appearing to deny access or hide things from the press – especially from the established networks – is just asking for relentless investigations and badgering from the press. this is especially true if you have made a public pledge to run a transparent administration.

and this news of singling out fox news comes at the same time as criticism of the white house mounts for cultivating what many say is an ‘enemies list,’ harkening back to the corrupt days of the nixon white house. and it is not only republicans that are making this claim, but now democrats are beginning to worry about the heavy handed tactics of white house chief of staff rahm emanuel and the obama white house as well. a recent politico piece by jonathan allen states:

“It’s a mistake,” said Rep. Jason Altmire, a moderate Democrat from western Pennsylvania. “I think it’s beneath the White House to get into a tit for tat with news organizations.”

barack obama should know better. and he is learning from these embarrassing setbacks. he first thing he should learn is that experience is king in washington. the should dismiss the young brash advisors, and stick to some experienced folks like savvy genius david axelrod. because, and correct me if i’m mistaken, but i don’t believe a great strategy for a president who promised to bring all sides together is to deny access to those reporters who dare criticize you or attempt to hold you accountable. how’s that strategy working in the health care debate? chicago’s olympic bid? closing guantanamo? perhaps saturday night live said it best.

One Response

  1. Good post, Bob. I agree with you completely, and feel a rare sense of pride in the mainstream media today. I’m hopeful that our President will slow down the blame game, and avoid enemies list politics.

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