President Barack Obama and the White House propaganda machine are working overtime to undermine critics, particularly those on the right or affiliated with the Republican Party.
The systematic attacks against right-wing Fox News is part of a what Politico.Com calls a coordinated campaign to “marginalize the most powerful forces behind the Republican Party, setting loose top White House officials to undermine conservatives in the media, business and lobbying worlds.”
The campaign invokes memory on former President Richard M. Nixon, who compiled an “enemies list” of media organizations and political foes and then set loose the vast resources of the White House to destroy those enemies.
Comparisons with Nixon, who resigned in disgrace during the Watergate scandal, is the last thing the Obama White House wants or needs but such comparisons are inevitable when the administration cranks up a war of words with critics.
Writes Ruth Marcus in The Washington Post:
There’s only one thing dumber than picking a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel — picking a fight with people who don’t even have to buy ink. The Obama administration’s war on Fox News is dumb on multiple levels. It makes the White House look weak, unable to take Harry Truman’s advice and just deal with the heat. It makes the White House look small, dragged down to the level of Glenn Beck. It makes the White House look childish and petty at best, and it has a distinct Nixonian — Agnewesque? — aroma at worst.
Other Presidents have used enemies lists to try and discredit their critics. Bill Clinton used White House resources to discredit former lovers. George W. Bush sent his surrogates out to attack the left.
But the Obama campaign is gathering increasing attention because he is the candidate who promised to “change the way Washington works.” Some now wonder if he is the one who has changed.
The Post’s Marcus also writes:
Where the White House has gone way overboard is in its decision to treat Fox as an outright enemy and to go public with the assault. Imagine the outcry if the Bush administration had pulled a similar hissy fit with MSNBC.
With a series of private meetings and public taunts, the White House has targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest-spending pro-business lobbying group in the country; Rush Limbaugh, the country’s most-listened-to conservative commentator; and now, with a new volley of combative rhetoric in recent days, the insurance industry, Wall Street executives and Fox News.
Obama aides are using their powerful White House platform, combined with techniques honed in the 2008 campaign, to cast some of the most powerful adversaries as out of the mainstream and their criticism as unworthy of serious discussion.
Press secretary Robert Gibbs has mocked Limbaugh from the White House press room podium. White House aides limited access to the Chamber and made top adviser Valerie Jarrett available to reporters to disparage the group. Everyone from White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to White House Communications Director Anita Dunn has piled on Fox News by contending it’s not a legitimate news operation.
All of the techniques are harnessed to a larger purpose: to marginalize not only the individual person or organization but also some of the most important policy and publicity allies of the national Republican Party.
So much for the President who promised to build bridges and reach out to his enemies. Instead, he is giving ammunition to his political opposition.
“This is a White House engaging in its own version of the media enemies list,” says former Bush senior adviser Karl Rove. “It’s unhelpful for the country and undignified for the president of the United States.”