President Obama: Media Critic

By Gorman Gorman

May 14, 2009 3:42pm

Annoy the media, elect Obama?

It hardly seems likely that such a slogan would catch on, as did a version for President George HW Bush in 1992.

Especially so soon after President Obama told attendees of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that they all voted for him.

That said, the president likes to take issue with the media here and there.

"I just want to make a little commentary about the media here, if you don’t mind," Mr. Obama said this afternoon in Rio Rancho, NM, at a town hall meeting on credit card reform.

"When Congress included in last year’s budget a whole bunch of earmarks, you remember there was a week worth of stories about how terrible these earmarks were," the president recounted. "You remember this…a week’s worth of stories: ‘Oh, these earmarks, this is what’s blowing up the deficit, this is terrible,’ blah, blah, blah."

Continued the president: "And yet, as I said before, that was less than 1 percent of that entire budget that had been signed.  When we find $17 billion worth of cuts in programs, what do the same folks say?  They say, ‘Oh, that’s nothing.’…That’s not significant.  That’s not important.’

"Well, you can’t have it both ways," the president said. "If those earmarks were important, then this money is important, too."

It’s an interesting point, the converse of the point many of us in the White House press corps have made about the White House: that when the president and his aides discussed non-stimulative spending in the stimulus bill, or earmarks in the 2009 omnibus spending bill — or when then-candidate Obama discussed Sen. John McCain’s crusade to end earmarks — he belittled the savings, and when he trotted out more than 100 programs he would seek to cut, he made it sound quite important.

"$17 billion is a lot of money," he said at the time.

Of course, it’s probably worth saying that the $17 billion in cuts — assuming they actually go through — is not a cut per se, it’s just a re-allotment of that money to other programs in the $3.55 trillion budget.


At another moment during the town hall meeting, the president was asked by a voter if he could "break those lines of bipartisanship, and get these laws and this help that we need to us, the people?"

The president said that "it’s very important to understand that since I came into office, I have said to my Republican friends in Congress, ‘I want to work with you.’  I’ve had them over to the White House more than they were over in the White House during the Bush administration."

The crowd laughed.

"That’s true!" the president said.

The president then detailed philosophical differences about deficit spending that Republicans had with him on the stimulus bill. 

"I have to say they weren’t as worried when the previous administration was running up and doubling our national debt, but –but having said that, having said that,…that’s part of what our democracy is about, to disagree with us on this," he observed.

The president then accused Republicans of not believing that the US should "reform our health care system in a way that includes more people.  They think that the free market can solve the problem."

The president then noted that "this credit card bill, when it passed in the House, we actually got 100 Republican votes. On our children’s health insurance bill, we got some Republican votes."

Added the president: "The media likes to focus on where we disagree; they don’t tend to focus on the areas where we are actually working together."

– jpt

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus