Ezra Klein, Chris Hayes Reveal What DC Media Knew: Obama Was Willing to Let Payroll Tax Cut Expire

Larry O’Connor’s well-caught “sound bite for the day” yesterday deserves further elaboration.

Yesterday, on MSNBC, left-wing journalists Chris Hayes of The Nation and Ezra Klein of the Washington Postno strangers to Democrat-media collusion–revealed that they had been part of an off-the-record White House briefing in which it was made clear that President Barack Obama planned all along to let the temporary payroll tax holiday expire, and then blame Republicans.

The meeting may have been the one first revealed on December 19, 2011 by ABC News’s senior White House correspondent, Jake Tapper, who tweeted that day that “a group of progressive media stars” had attended a private meeting at the White House with the President.

However, if Hayes is to be believed, the message of that meeting may have extended far beyond the “progressive” media niche at MSNBC, and reached a broader audience in Washington.

According to Hayes, “everyone in Washington” knew that Obama wanted the payroll tax extension to fail–and yet the same journalists eagerly covered the subsequent payroll tax debate as if Republicans were the only obstacle to an extension. The result of the media’s collusion was a year-end political victory for Obama and the Democrats at the expense of House leaders, the Tea Party, and Republicans in general.

Here is the exchange between Hayes and Klein (0:44 to 1:04), with MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry chiming in encouragingly (transcript follows):

Hayes: You and I went to the White House and, you know–off-the-record conversation, but it was very clear–

Klein: (Laughing) Shhhhh!

Hayes: –it was very, it was very clear–

Harris-Perry: You know, this will be on the record (laughs)–

Hayes: OK. And this was nothing that wasn’t reported.

Klein: That’s right.

Hayes: They [the White House] were willing to let them [payroll tax cuts]. They were willing.

Klein: Yeah.

Hayes: Everyone knew that. Everyone in Washington knew it, [House Speaker] John Boehner knew it–everyone knew they were willing to let them expire. That’s the one confrontation they won.

The fact that even Republicans may have known that Obama did not intend to extend the payroll tax holiday strengthened the White House’s negotiating position.

It is also, however, a glaring indictment of the mainstream media, which knew of Obama’s true plan while encouraging Americans to blame the Tea Party and the Republicans, eagerly echoing Democrats’ accusations that the Tea Party had held the nation “hostage” for political gain.

In fact, as Hayes and Klein admit–laughingly, and why not?–Obama was the one holding a gun to the heads of the American people, knowing that a dutiful Washington press corps would erase his fingerprints.

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