Obama's Sinister Offensive

by Jonathan Chait | October 21, 2009

Last August, when the White House urged the public to share examples of hysterical health care rumors so the administration could help correct them before they spread too widely, Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer compared it to "Chicago thug politics," Big Brother, and Hugo Chavez. This time around, he again sees the dark hand of Chicago politics:

It is one thing for the government, the administration, to attack opponents, institutions, media. It is another to go out and try and delegitimize them and destroy them.

 

I thought it was sort of repulsive audacity on the part of the administration to go out and to declare Fox is not a real news organization, particularly when there might be big companies out there who might think twice about having an ad on Fox or other news media who might think twice about following a Fox story because it might incur the displeasure of the administration.

 

Similarly, to go after the Chamber of Commerce — you can argue against it, defend yourself on the arguments — but to try to induce defections as a way to destroy it is a new level. It's Chicago-level politics.

 

It's worth keeping in mind exactly what sinister acts the White House is committing here. With regard to Fox, the administration is pointing out that the network does not practice anything remotely resembling neutral journalism. It is a 24-hour conservative and Republican propaganda machine. As for the Chamber of Commerce, the White House is not trying to "induce defections," though I'd have no problem if it were. Its crime here is to meet with individual CEOs, rather than letting the Chamber -- which is run by Republican operatives and determined to kill the administration's agenda -- serve as the gatekeeper to corporate America.

 

So, that's the sum total of this dark White House strategy: point out that wildly biased right-wing a network is not a legitimate news organization, and negotiate with executives rather than an implacably hostile lobby. If that's Chicago style politics, then Chicago must not be such a bad place.

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