In another video from Talk Radio Network chief investigative reporter Jason Mattera, Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign manager and director of Organizing for Action Jim Messina denies that Obama has ever attacked Fox News or Rush Limbaugh–a funny claim, considering the wealth of evidence to the contrary.
On February 20, 2013, Mattera caught up with Messina in Washington, D.C. “Do you think it’s unbecoming of the president to be constantly attacking Fox News and Rush Limbaugh?” Mattera asks. “I don’t think that’s what he’s doing,” says Messina, as a staffer tries to usher him away from Mattera.
“Don’t you read his interviews?” Mattera replies. “He whines about Fox news and Rush. I mean, don’t you think it’s childish to be going after a news network and a radio host?” The staffer tries to intervene, but Messina answers, “I answered your question. I don’t think that’s what he’s doing…I think he’s answering the question he got asked.”
Obama has routinely attacked both Fox News and Limbaugh, using the power of the bully pulpit to intimidate his perceived political enemies. For example, Obama has attacked Fox News (which he told former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos of ABC News was “entirely devoted to attacking my administration”), the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and Limbaugh on a regular basis.
“Do you still write creepy messages on your hand?” Mattera playfully gibes as Messina climbs into a cab, referencing a picture of Messina holding his hands crossed with the words “Obama” and “Care” emblazoned on them.
The fun video highlights a more important point, however. Obama’s bullying focus on members of the media who do not parrot his administration’s talking points has created a climate of intimidation in media. Modus operandi at the White House has become cutting off all adverse media at the knees, ensuring that they do not gain access to the White House, and whipping up public pressure to silence those outlets.
After a San Francisco Chronicle reporter posted a video of protesters at an Obama fundraiser, the White House threatened to bar the paper from future events. The Boston Herald claimed the Obama campaign would not give it full access to a local fundraiser for the President because the paper featured an op-ed from Mitt Romney on its front page.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh asserted Obama was “part of” a “secondary boycott” against Fox News, a concept credited to Breitbart News editor-at-large Ben Shapiro in response to the President’s remarks that “If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”
CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson said in a radio interview that White House staffers screamed and swore at her while discussing her coverage of the Department of Justice’s “Fast and Furious” scandal. Attkisson claimed the Obama Administration said that more friendly media outlets were “reasonable,” implying she was abnormal.
Attkisson’s account matches veteran reporter Bob Woodward’s interaction with a White House official who reportedly yelled at him for a half hour before sending him an apology email which also said he would “regret” printing a story critical of Obama’s messaging during debate over sequestration cuts. That threat came to fruition as numerous left-wing journalists mocked and belittled Woodward.
In 2009, then-Press Secretary Robert Gibbs summed up the Obama White House’s attitude towards critical media: “The only way to get somebody to stop crowding the plate is to throw a fastball at them. They move.”