Obama’s plan: Undermine, discredit all critics

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.

Politico weighs in:

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.”


  1. almandine

    Zzzoooooooooommmmmmmmm… right over my noggin.

    legal OR regulatory sanction = penalty.


  2. JerryG

    The author/journalist says “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.”

    Pure poppycock! Demagogery by the source he quotes. Inherent in the quote is that FOX News is a force of a political party. This singular comment makes it fair game!

    What you have in FOX News is the equivalent of shouting fire in a movie theatre day after day, night after night. I applaud the White House for calling out a front organization that has grotesquely distorted one of the historical watchdogs whose rights have been embodied in the Constitution.

  3. griff

    Divide and Conquer…Works every time no matter how intelligent the victims make themselves out to be. Until we not only finally figure that out, but resolve to break the partisan chokehold on political discourse, the government will continue to hold us hostage.

  4. bryan mcclellan

    Hey Al,
    Legal Regulatory Sanction = rescinded Law..

    Twist the dial headlong to collusion, via disillusionment.

  5. almandine

    You mischaracterize the entire proceeding… although they did in fact assert that there was no legal or regulatory sanction that could be brought against them for lying.

  6. CheckerboardStrangler

    Sure, there is indeed a large amount of truth in that statement, particularly the part about Fox yelling “FIRE!” in a theater 24/7, but this is the PRESIDENT we’re talking about and what the PRESIDENT SHOULD do is just let them have enough rope to hang themselves.

    The beauty of that tactic is, not only did it work successfully during the campaign, it even worked during the summer town halls, to the point where most of America finally saw the tea baggers for what they truly are, mindless misinformed rabble rousers, Lenin’s Useful Idiots on the march, to where they know not.

    Obama could easily play Roadrunner to Fox’s Wiley E. Coyote and simply claim plausible deniability in the whole fine mess day and day out, with Gibbs smiling and shrugging his shoulders, saying “I have no idea how Fox could have interpreted “——” to mean
    “@*(@#^#&$)$*@~~~!!!” but that’s what they did, we just gave them the information we thought they wanted!”

    Obama’s staff could have Fox chasing around in endless circles, frantically announcing the end of the world every other day, ramping up their News Alerts, going Code Orange and generally acting like the Boy Who Cried Wolf until even their most loyal viewers would start thinking they had tuned to a Beavis and Butthead episode instead of The Factor.
    After all, Glenn Beck has built a career out of doing just that all along anyhow, so why not feed the beast until it collapses under its own bloated rhetoric?

    And then the damning pronouncement would need no introduction by Obama’s staff because it would be self evident to all.

    He is simply not playing the game the right way.

  7. CheckerboardStrangler

    Nothing wrong with undermining OR discrediting critics IF the facts are used.
    But that’s not what Barack Obama is doing.
    In a move that would elicit admiration from Chavez, Obama is simply limiting access, which only inflates the sense of importance over at Fox because they know that Obama lacks the other tool used by the Chavez regime…they know that Obama cannot force them to shut down.
    So in essence, Obama’s administration is simply behaving like a child who takes his toys and goes home.

    If Obama wanted to discredit or undermine Fox, he could easily do so by airing counterpoint to every attack, or he could go them one better by demanding clarification of their best talking points.

    If he wanted, he could repeatedly push their buttons by tailoring specific material just for them, designed to set off their internal neocon alarms, then sit back as their cigars explode in the faces time and time again.
    And America could derive much more entertainment value watching Obama toy with them but instead he allows them to finger point and play “We told you so!”.

    And it’s his face the exploding cigar is finding, again and again.

    And the funny thing is, I originally expected Obama to rope a dope Fox, because he was doing a rather good job of it during his campaign and even during the town hall summer.