Ed Driscoll

"A" Equals Not Just Acquiescence, But Activism

As Investor’s Business Daily wrote this week, the “A” that President Obama’s press secretary gave the White House press corps last week stands for acquiescence. (“Imagine the firestorm if Bush press chief Ari Fleischer had decided to present a report card to the press in 2001”, IBD correctly notes.)

Newt Gingrich agrees, Brent Baker writes at Newsbusters:

Reacting to the questions posed during Wednesday’s presidential news conference, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich expressed disappointment with the White House press corps, telling FNC’s Greta Van Susteren the journalists have “taken such a pathetic dive with this President that they ought to be part of his PR firm. I mean it’s embarrassing to watch.”

Indeed. And now it’s time to earn that A — with a little activism, or at least the threat thereof, the Island Turtle blog notes:

Yesterday (May 1) on Detroit’s Frank Beckman’s morning talk show (WJR), bankruptcy attorney Tom Lauria made the incendiary accusation that the members of the White House had threatened to use the “the full force of the White House Press Corps to destroy” his client’s reputation if it didn’t acquiesce to highly unfavorable terms of the government’s proposed Chrysler restructuring plan. Because of the strongarm tactics, Lauria’s client dropped its opposition.

Here is the tape of Beckman’s interview of Lauria. The relevant portions begin at the 1:30 mark. Listen to it.

Lauria: Let me tell you it’s no fun standing on this side of the fence opposing the President of the United States. In fact, let me just say, people have asked me who I represent. That’s a moving target. I can tell you for sure that I represent one less investor today than I represented yesterday. One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under the threat that the full force of the White House Press Corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight. That’s how hard it is to stand on this side of the fence.

Beckman: Was that Perella Weinberg?

Lauria: That was Perella Weinberg.

There is a pattern here. Financial institutions holding billions of Chrysler’s secured debt are being held hostage by the TARP loans they are not permitted to pay back. They are being forced to accept just pennies on the dollar for loans they made in good faith less than two years ago. Just like mob loan sharks, the administration wants them under its thumb so they can extort more and more concessions.

This is an abuse of power that goes beyond Nixon.

(And busses are standing by now!)

Glenn Reynolds asks, “How does the supposedly independent White House Press Corps feel to know that it’s being wielded as a weapon by Obama’s operatives?”

Secretly, they’re probably thrilled. (Maybe even “enchanted”, Ed Morrissey quips, quoting the word of the day at the New York Times).

To the best of my knowledge, he’s not an official member of the White House press corps, but veteran television journalist Tavis Smiley likely summed up their mindset, when he said in early January:

Harry Reid, put down the crack pipe. You don’t work for Barack Obama? We’re all working for Barack Obama.

* * *

I believe that he can be a great president. But only if we help make him a great president. It is not left to his own devices, it’s not going to happen. We have to help make him a great president.

“Barack Obama will require you to work…that you move out of your comfort zone…”

Update: Welcome readers from Michelle Malkin.com (via Michelle’s  rotating “Buzzworthy” sidebar links) and The Sundries Shack, where Jimmie writes that Obama’s tactics are “straight-up brownshirt territory and it worries the hell out of me.” And people thought Newsweek was kidding with this cover.

Related: “Just imagine the outrage if the Bush administration had threatened to sic Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on its political opponents. But the obedient steno clerks in the White House press corps just do as they’re told nowadays. If Robert Gibbs needs a shoe shine, there are at least three network correspondents who’ll be happy to do the job.”